While the sport of racing cars in various fashions has been around for nearly as long as automobiles have existed. There has been a surprising lack of females in the sport over the years in relation to men. Still, there have been a few notable female figures that have entered into the world of sports racing in one way or another. Whether as trophy girls or as racers themselves. As one might imagine, these girls had to be exceptionally beautiful in order to stand out on the racing scene. And many of them were also exceptionally talented! Join Facts Verse as we take a look at vintage photos of racing trophy girls not suitable for all ages.
The first figure we’ll be taking a look at is Linda Vaughn. Linda isn’t a racecar driver herself, but she certainly made a name for herself on the racecar scene thanks to her immense beauty. Vaughn has often dubbed the “First Lady of Motorsports”, with Linda Vaughn: The First Lady of Motorsports being the name of her 2016 autobiography.
Linda entered the racecar scene as a beauty queen during her teenage years. At the age of only 18, she named Queen of Speed at Atlanta International Raceway. Following the racecar beauty queen’s victory at the age of 18. She went on to win numerous other victories, including being named the Queen of Dixie 400. However, Linda’s most well-known title she’s won remains that of Miss Hurst Golden Shifter.
As a result of her success as a racecar beauty queen, Linda Vaughn managed to make a few notable appearances on the big screen. In 1976, Linda could seen in the film The Gumball Rally. Less than a decade later, she could seen starring alongside Burt Reynolds in the 1983 film Stroker Ace. Sadly, the latter film wasn’t a big success and Linda exited Hollywood shortly afterwards.
Although Linda’s career as a Hollywood movie star didn’t turn out. She’s sill a notable figure in the world of motorsports today thanks to her history as a racecar beauty queen. She continues to make appearances at fan events today at the age of 78. She has only married once in her lifetime. With her only husband having been a man by the name of Billy Tidwell. However, she also notably romantically involved with baseball player Jimmy Newberry.
The next figure we’ll be taking a look at is trophy girl Barbara Roufs, who broke out onto the California drag racing scene during the 1970s. Unlike many other trophy girls of the era, Barbara was already in her late 20s when she found her greatest success in the business. And was a mother of two. Barbara was a favorite subject of famed racing photographer Tom West, who was also as a marketing director at General Mills. Because of this, Tom got Barbara a side career modeling in advertisements for various products.
Despite the success that Barbara found in her life when it came to being both a trophy girl and an advertising model. And she sadly decided to take her life at the age of 47. Barbara’s suicide occurred in 1991, and she is still fondly remembered in the drag racing scene today for her spectacular beauty.
“Jungle Pam” Hardy
The next figure we’ll be taking a look at is “Jungle Pam” Hardy, who broke out into prominence during the 1970s in the Funny Car racing scene thanks to her work on the team of racer “Jungle Jim” Lieberman. Pam was still in high school and was planning her college career when Jim drove up to her on the street and offered to take her out on a date. When Pam asked Jim what he did for a living. It was her first time hearing about the world of Funny Car racing. She became interested in the sport, and was soon accompanying Jim to the track. Pam quickly became just as interested in the sport as Jim was. And the racer made a place for her on his team.
At first, Jungle Pam’s duties were simply to place Jim’s Funny Car on the track before each race. However, as she became more experienced in the world of racing. And she was able to handle more and more duties as a part of Jim’s racing team. However, changing regulations later in the 1970s made it so that Pam could no longer be on Jim’s team. Prior to that point, Jungle Pam had helped the sport of Funny Car racing become more popular than ever before. Sadly, many fans of the sport felt that Pam was drawing people to Funny Cars for the wrong reason. Namely, they felt that Pam cared more about her looks than racing.
Soon after Pam kicked off the team, tragedy struck when Jungle Jim killed in a car accident unrelated to racing. Jim died in 1977, after which point Jungle Pam left the Funny Car racing scene for good and has lived a relatively normal life since. Despite the fact that Jungle Pam is no longer involved with the racing scene in any official capacity and hasn’t been for decades. She continues to appear at fan events and keep the memory of Jim alive.
If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney
The next figure we’ll be taking a look at wasn’t a trophy girl, but an actual racer! Linda Vaughn may have known as the First Lady of Motorsports. But Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney known as the First Lady of Drag Racing. The title may have more appropriately applied to Shirley, as Shirley actually had what it took to get out on the track! Shirley was born in 1940, and got into cars when she met a local mechanic named Jack Muldowney. Of course, the two would go on to marry, with Shirley taking his name.
With Jack’s help, Shirley ended up getting into the world of drag racing. She won three NHRA world titles over the course of her career, with wins occurring in 1977, 1980, and 1988. Shirley continued drag racing even after a near-fatal crash that broke her pelvis. She ended up retiring in 2003, though she’s still around today at the age of 81. In addition to her contributions to the world of drag racing, Shirley also founded the charitable organization Shirley’s Kids.
In 1974, Shirley immortalized in the biopic Heart Like a Wheel, which featured actress Bonnie Bedelia playing her. The film featured a titular theme song by artist Linda Ronstadt. And stands as a glowing tribute to a woman who carved an unlikely path for herself in drag racing.
Carol “Bunny” Burkett
Finally, let’s take a look at another female drag racer, this time by the name of Carol “Bunny” Burkett. Carol was born in Franklin, West Virginia, on May 29, 1945. Her and her mother ended up being abandoned by Carol’s father, who had been away serving in World War Ii at the time of her birth. As a result of the abandonment, Carol grew up in a life of poverty. During her teenage years, Carol met a man by the name of Murium Burkett, who went by the nickname “Mo”. It Mo who first got Carol interested in the world of drag racing. Apparently, the young man took Carol to Old Dominion Dragway during one of their first dates.
Upon seeing what drag racing was for herself, Carol told Mo that she wanted to be a driver. Mo laughed at the idea, as the notion of there being a female drag racer was considered absurd at the time. In addition to the fact that there simply weren’t any female drag racers. There was also the fact that Carol didn’t even know how to drive at the time. Despite the world seeming to be against her in these aspects, Carol managed to convince Mo to teach her how to drag race.
When it became apparent that Carol was taking her dream of drag racing seriously, Mo decided to support her in her quest. The two tied the knot, and Mo took out a loan shortly afterwards to buy Carol a racecar. The two married when Carol was only 16 years old. She had her first child at the age of 17, and her second at the age of 18. Through all of this, she continued pursuing her passion of becoming a drag racer, and to gradual success! A brief tenure working as a hostess at the Playboy Club so that she could replace her car after it got totaled in an accident led to Carol adopting the nickname of “Bunny”. Carol entered into the 1970s with her new name and a good deal of racing experience behind her.
Over the course of the 1970s, Carol made the transition from drag racing to Funny Car racing. It was in the world of Funny Car racing that the female race car driver went on to find the majority of her career success. She became a superstar all over North America, with a particular following in Canada.
In 1995, Carol got into a near-fatal accident that many thought she was never going to recover from. However, she ended up proving them wrong and getting back out on the track the next year. Following this, Carol continued racing up until just before her death in April of 2020, at the age of 74.
While many might think that racing cars is all about the men, there have been several notable female figures in the world of racecars since the sport’s inception, both in the form of drivers and trophy girls. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Carol “Bunny” Burkett made a name for herself as one of the first women in drag racing. And that Jungle Pam Hardy made the sport of Funny Car racing more popular than ever before with her striking bust? As always, like this video to show your support. And subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!