Hillary becomes first lady

The most successful female racer in the US this past year was Hillary Will, who finished fourth in the NHRA’s Top Fuel championship. Will, 28, started drag racing in 2005 and moved into KB Racing’s Top Fuel car in ’06. A former gymnast and collegiate springboard diver, Will earned a degree in economics before launching her racing career. Will is just 5ft 4ins tall and weighs a mere 50 kilos, but has no problem handling an 8000bhp Top Fuel dragster. She made the final round three times in 2008 and won at Topeka in June on her way to fourth in the points, beating former motorcycle racer Antron Brown but narrowly losing out to ex-champions Larry Dixon and Cory McClenathan.

Will likes to say that it’s nothing special to be a woman in drag racing, pointing to Melanie Troxel and Ashley Force, who race Funny Cars, and Angelle Sampey, a three-time NHRA motorcycle champion. And of course, Shirley Muldowney won three Top Fuel titles back in 1977, ’80 and ’82, establishing herself as the most successful woman racer the sport has seen.