Switching gears for a bit (see what I did there?), I thought I'd post something I found while getting all the pictures I intend on hanging on the wall in my new 'man cave' together.
I used to watch the movie 'Heart Like a Wheel' every chance I could get when I was little. The movie came out when I was 3 and it was the only drag racing movie I had ever heard of, so it worked for me on a few levels. Since my dad drag raced, I was around it my whole life. I became a HUGE Shirley Muldowney fan because of the movie. Being the first woman to ascend the professional ranks in drag racing was a tremendous feat, and she was the perfect woman to do it. She has always had the type of 'Take no Sh*t off of anyone' attitude that served her well in being able to send the boys home on raceday.
Something else about Shirley is that she has always been very accommodating to her many fans around the world. When I was 10 years old, having seen the movie probably a billion times, my mom found me a way that I could write Shirley a letter. I wish I could remember what I said in the letter. Probably that my dad also drag raced, I loved the movie, etc. I also included my 5th grade school picture and a card of my dad's racecar.
Shirley was racing exclusively on the NHRA circuit at that time, so I didn't have a chance to see her race in person, since we were in IHRA territory. I had always longed to go to a race and watch her, but at that time, I didn't have the chance.
Fast forward 5 years (1995), I'm walking along the pits at Bristol Dragway for the 1995 Spring Nationals with my cousin's girlfriend. As we are walking, a top fuel dragster was being rolled out of its transporter. As the car rolls out and I see the name on the car, I flip out and run straight back to our pits and scream at my mom 'MOM OH MY GOD SHIRLEY IS HERE SHES HERE SHES HERE...' (Yeah Im a dork). She had decided to try the IHRA tour that year, so made a (then) rare trip out east.
Later on that day when I calmed down, I went up to Shirley to meet her in person. She was sitting at the end of her transporter signing autographs for the people who came by and I was the last one there for that moment. This meant I didn't have anyone waiting behind me so I could talk as long as she allowed. So, I nervously approached the woman I had only read about and seen on TV and told her 'Hello, Ms. Muldowney, I'm a big fan, I loved your movie and I wrote you a letter when I was 10...' She stopped me right there and said 'Your name is William and you sent me a school picture.' I was floored. This awesome lady REMEMBERED me! She REMEMBERED MY NAME! How awesome is that? I will never forget that as long as I live. She is and will always be one of my sports heroes.
I hope you all enjoyed this story, as I enjoyed re-telling it. Please leave me some comments and let me know what you think.