Barbara Roufs Tragedy: What Really Happened To The Drag Race Trophy Girl

Zehra Kabak

Born in 1944 into a family familiar with racing, with her father’s involvement at the Kearny Bowl, Barbara Roufs got into the drag racing scene of the ’60s as a trophy girl after finishing her studies. Despite being one of the oldest girls at 29, she made a name for herself as the competition started to change in the ’70s.

Around that time, while newer models replaced old cars and fuelers with driver seats behind the motor replaced the old dragsters, ladies of the race grew their hair longer, wore shorter shorts, and left bras behind. In that environment, with her broad straightened hair and old ’60s gogo boots, Roufs became a common choice for companies wanting to promote their products.

Her photographs appeared in branded t-shirts and ad magazines in those years, and many people claimed Roufs brought life to the drag race. She held titles like the queen of the 6th annual US Professional Dragster Championship at Orange County International Raceway and the 1973 Professional Dragster Association queen.

In her personal life, Roufs welcomed a child named Jet Dougherty with an unknown husband when she was 29. Her daughter came out years later on social media when photographer Tom West uploaded the trophy girl’s early photos on Facebook in 2016.

With a comment paying tribute to her mother, Jet explained that Roufs would be proud to see her pictures on the internet and let people know that she died in January 1991. She said the cause of death was suicide but didn’t reveal the reason behind it.

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