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Kitty O'Neil (born March 24, 1946 in Corpus Christi, Texas) is an American former stuntwoman and racer noted for a handful of exceptional accomplishments, despite becoming deaf when she was four months old. However she did not let this disability become an obstacle to achievement. She became a stunt woman at Hollywood because she was married to a stunt man, Duffy Hambleton.
In 1977 in the Mojave Desert, she piloted a hydrogen peroxide powered rocket dragster built by Ky Michaelson to the quickest quarter mile elapsed time in auto history, with a timed run of 3.22 seconds at 396 mph (637 km/h) with an average speed of 279.5 mph (449.8 km/h). During the same time, she also made a quarter mile run with a top speed of 412 mph (663 km/h). The NHRA contends that Top Fuel dragsters hold the fastest quarter mile times in the 4.4x seconds and 330 mph (530 km/h) range as of 2005. But NHRA rules state that any run that sets a record on a drag strip must be backed up within one percent during the same meet. FIA rules on land speed records require any run to set a record must be based on the average of two runs, each way, within one hour. Because the quarter mile elapsed time was not set under these conditions, neither the NHRA nor the FIA recognize this achievement as an official record.
In drag racing, hydrogen peroxide "rocket cars" were relegated to exhibition only, and have not been allowed in the United States since the 1980s, although they continue to be run in other parts of the world.
- The Drag Racing List: All-Time Quickest Rocket-Powered Dragsters (AlphabetilolList by Driver and Year)
- Space Age Racing: Article mentioning Kitty's world record
- Ky Michaelson's first hand account of the record-setting attempts
- Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story at the Internet Movie Database
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