Auto racing in the 1970s considered trophy girls an integral part of the competition. They were present in the victory lane, in front of pace cars, and interacted with pit crews. Unlike in previous years when trophy girls wore heavy garments and big feather hats, those of the 1970s evolved their dress code to short shorts, often without bras, and grew their hair longer. One trophy girl that stood out during this time was Barbara Roufs.


Barbara Roufs was an iconic figure in the world of drag racing, known for her charm, beauty, and indomitable spirit. As a drag race trophy girl in the 1970s, she brought life to car races and excitement to fans, earning a well-deserved place in the racing community. However, her story is tinged with tragedy, ending in her untimely death in January 1991. In this article, we delve into the life and legacy of Barbara Roufs, exploring the highs and lows of her journey in the drag racing world.

Who was Barbara Roufs?

Barbara Roufs was born in 1944 in California, United States. She grew up surrounded by the vibrant culture of motorsports, with her father, Wayne Eldon, being a motorcycle rider and racer at the Kearney Bowl. Her mother, Thelma Ruby Riley, was a beauty salon owner and an organist at the Church of the Nazarene, Calvary Bible.

Early Life and Background

Barbara’s early life was marked by her family’s strong ties to the racing community. Her father’s involvement in motorsports undoubtedly influenced her fascination with the world of drag racing. Despite her modest beginnings, Barbara’s striking looks and vibrant personality set her apart from a young age.

Career and Achievements

Barbara’s career as a drag race trophy girl began in the early 1970s when she was in her late twenties. Unlike many of her peers, who were typically younger, Barbara’s age of 29 and her outstanding physique distinguished her in the role. She quickly became a fan favorite, known for her long, straightened hair and stylish 60s gogo boots.

Barbara Rouf Quick Bio

  • Full Name: Barbara Roufs
  • Date Of Birth: 1944
  • Gender: Female
  • Age: 47 years (as of 1991)
  • Died: January 1991
  • Place of Birth: California, United States
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
  • Hair & Eye Color: Brown
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Parents: Thelma Ruby Riley & Wayne Eldon Riley
  • Siblings: Vivian Deaton, James, Bruce, Ben Gube
  • Children: Jet Dougherty
  • Profession: Trophy Girl and Model

Personal Life

Barbara was married and had a daughter named Jet Dougherty. Despite her public persona, she kept much of her personal life private, including the identity of her husband. Her daughter, Jet, came into the limelight years later, speaking fondly of her mother and the vibrant life she led.

The Tragic End

In January 1991, Barbara Roufs’ life came to a tragic end when she committed suicide under unclear circumstances. She was only 47 years old. Her death left a void in the drag racing community, with many mourning the loss of a beloved figure who had brought so much joy and excitement to the sport.

Legacy and Impact

Barbara Roufs is remembered not only for her beauty and charm but also for her significant impact on the drag racing community. She inspired many with her confidence and presence, setting a standard for future generations of trophy girls and female participants in the sport.

Siblings and Family

Barbara had three biological siblings: James, Bruce, and Vivian Deaton, and an adopted brother, Ben Gube. Her family, especially her parents, Wayne Eldon and Thelma Ruby Riley, played a crucial role in shaping her early interest in motorsports and supporting her career.

The Rise of Barbara Roufs

Barbara Roufs’ rise to fame in the drag racing world was as swift as it was spectacular. Her journey is a testament to her unique blend of beauty, charisma, and an undeniable passion for the sport.

Early Involvement in Drag Racing

Barbara’s fascination with drag racing began in her youth, influenced by her father’s active participation in motorsports. Growing up in California, she was no stranger to the roar of engines and the thrill of speed. By the early 1970s, Barbara had found her niche as a drag race trophy girl, a role that involved more than just presenting awards. She brought a sense of glamour and excitement to the races, making each event a memorable experience for fans and participants alike.

Distinguishing Herself from Others

At 29, Barbara was older than most trophy girls of her time, but this only added to her allure. Her age, combined with her stunning looks and impeccable style, set her apart. She quickly became known for her long, straightened hair and iconic 60s gogo boots, which made her a standout figure on the drag strip.

Career Highlights

One of Barbara’s most notable achievements was being crowned the queen of the 6th annual US Professional Dragster Championship at Orange County International Raceway. This prestigious title solidified her status as a key figure in the drag racing community. Her role was not just about appearance; it was about embodying the spirit of the sport and engaging with the fans and racers.

Barbara’s presence at drag racing events was magnetic. She had a way of connecting with people, making everyone feel like they were part of something special. This connection was vital in an era when the sport was gaining popularity and needed ambassadors who could draw in crowds and media attention.

Influence on the Drag Racing Community

Barbara’s impact went beyond her role as a trophy girl. She became a symbol of the excitement and allure of drag racing. Her involvement helped to elevate the profile of the sport, attracting more spectators and generating greater media interest. Her influence was felt both on and off the track, inspiring future generations of women in motorsports.

Cause Of Death/The Mystery of Death

In 2016, a photographer named Tom West uploaded photographs of Barbara when she was a trophy girl. Soon after the post, Barbara’s daughter, Jet Dougherty, came online, explaining and paying tribute to her mother, appreciating her for her outstanding contribution and thanking her fans for their love.

Barbara’s daughter also expressed surprise about the pictures posted online but marked it as a proud moment for her mother. It was confirmed that Barbara died in January 1991. Her cause of death was suicide, which shocked many fans and those around her. The exact reason behind her suicide remains unclear, but at the time of her death, Barbara was 47 years old and living with her family in Fresno, California.

Barbara Roufs Net Worth

During her time, Barbara Roufs was a prominent figure in drag racing and modeling. Although she never disclosed her earnings as a trophy girl, it is estimated that she made a considerable amount of money through her work. Some of her iconic 1970s pictures are now sold online for significant amounts, indicating her enduring legacy.

Final Thoughts

Barbara Roufs was born in California and became a prominent drag racing trophy girl in the 1970s, setting new trends in the sport. Her unique appeal and style made her a standout figure. Despite her untimely death, Barbara Roufs’ story remains a blend of glamour, excitement, and tragedy, continuing to inspire and captivate enthusiasts and fans around the world.


Where did Barbara Roufs live?

Before her death in 1991, Barbara Roufs lived with her family in Fresno, California, USA.

What was the height of Barbara Roufs?

Barbara Roufs was 5 feet 5 inches tall (more than 165 cm) and weighed 55 kg.

Who was the photographer who took Barbara Roufs’ pictures?

The photographer who published Barbara’s pictures in 2016 was Tom West.

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