Since the year 1980, the NTPA has inducted 44 men into its Hall of Fame. Ten years after NTPA’s first Hall of Fame members were being introduced, this gal embarked on her rookie journey in NTPA Grand National competition. Many remember her as the “Country Girl,” while others simply knew her as Rodalyn - Rodalyn Knox, the first female Hall of Fame inductee.
It was Knox’s 12-years’ worth of experience in drag racing, the final two years behind the wheel of a 230 mile-per-hour, nitro funny car, that gave her the confidence needed to accept son Brian’s request in 1989 to become the driver of the MF Industrial sponsored “Sassy Massey” Modified.
With her drag racing experience, Knox understood speed, horsepower and the thrill of competition and its demands. But pulling was a different animal, as it took place on dirt, not asphalt. With multiple, supercharged JP-1 Hemis on board, Knox had greater power at her disposal. But Brian and husband John knew that Rodalyn was more than just a female participant and temporary driver. They knew that they were putting someone special behind the wheel.
1990 was a magical summer as Rodalyn Knox began her initial journey on the NTPA Grand National tour in the Modified and Unlimited categories. Rodalyn racked up 21 top-five finishes over 33 hooks, including four wins and five runner-up finishes. Knox was the first woman ever to qualify for the Enderle Pull-Off. At season’s end, Knox was third place in the final point tally behind two veterans, Gardner Stone and the Banter Brothers. As the cover of the October 1990 Pullermagazine stated, it was a “Rookie Season To Remember” for Rodalyn, and at the NTPA Awards Banquet, she took home the coveted Rookie of the Year award while Brian earned Mechanic of the Year honors, confirming his engine building and fuel system prowess.
Knox began the year 1991 by becoming the first woman ever to win any class at the famed “Indy Super Pull”. She followed up her rookie campaign by once again finishing third in the Grand National Unlimited point tally.
Over the next few seasons, Knox finished runner-up in the points in 1992, and then fourth place in 1993. Then in 1995, Rodalyn took home her first NTPA Grand National point’s title in the Unlimited category. She overcame the Walsh Brothers during the month of August to do so, winning three out of four events. The championship was yet another historic feat, as Knox became the first ever female to hold an NTPA Grand National title.
Unfortunately, health reasons forced the Knoxes to miss 1996, but they returned to the NTPA circuit with a vengeance in 1997. It was Weare, New Hampshire’s Knox out dueling Middlebury, Vermont’s Gardner Stone near their respective homesteads on Labor Day 1997 in Essex Junction, Vermont that gave Knox her second NTPA title in the Unlimited division by four points. Also earlier in the season, Knox won the first ever live, prime time, televised “Motor Madness” show on The Nashville Network that was held in Tomah, Wisconsin.
In what turned out to be Rodalyn’s final season of competition in 1998, she took the Mopar Performance Parts sponsored “Sassy Massey” to a third and final NTPA Grand National Unlimited championship, with another slim, four point margin over Gardner Stone. Ten years later, Knox is still the only woman to ever win an NTPA Grand National title.
The Knoxes retirement from competition resulted from the fact that their on track successes cultivated a booming business for their Sassy Racing Engines endeavors. The business has allowed them to stay very much behind the scenes of the sport to this day.
In retrospect, during eight active seasons, Rodalyn accomplished many firsts in her career. She won many pulling events and many fans’ hearts and makes NTPA history again by being the first female inductee into its Hall of Fame.