Barbara Roufs: From Drag Racing Queen in the 1970s to a Mysterious Suicide

by Rosemarie Hardison
Barbara Roufs

Young, beautiful women called trophy girls often crowd racing competitions in the ‘70s. But among hundreds of them, nothing brought life and excitement more than Barbara Roufs.

Renowned for her beauty and phenomenal physique, Barbara Roufs was a prominent figure inside race tracks. She was crowned queen of the Professional Dragster Association in 1973.

From an outsider’s perspective, all appears well for Barabara Roufs. That’s until she vanished in the early ‘90s. So, what happened?

Let me take you on a tour of Barbara Roufs’ story.

Barbara Roufs Quick Profile

Barbara Roufs

Image source: Pinterest

Here’s a glance at Barbara Roufs’ information:

  • Full Name: Barbara Riley Roufs
  • Gender: Female
  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: 1944
  • Parents: Wayne Eldon Riley, Thelma Ruby Riley
  • Place of Birth: Southern California, United States
  • Occupation: Model and drag race trophy girl
  • Religion: Christianity
  • Spouse: Unknown
  • Children: Jet Dougherty
  • Died: January 1991

Who was Barbara Roufs?

Regarded as one of the most beautiful faces on the race track, Barbara Rouf was the ideal face of sports in her time. But she’s also a daughter and a mother to one child.

Early Life

Barbara Roufs was born in Southern California, U.S.A., in 1944. Her parents were Wayne Eldon Riley, a motorcyclist racer, and Thelma Ruby Riley, a beauty salon owner.

The young Roufs grew up in a large Christian family. She had four siblings—two brothers, one sister, and one adoptive brother. Her siblings’ names are James, Bruce, Ben, and Vivian.

Roufs spent her formative years in Southern California. After completing her education, she immediately pursued a career on the race track.


Barbara Roufs

Image source: Google

Barbara Roufs entered the race track in its golden age in the 1960s, but not as a trophy girl. Likely inspired by her father, she started her career as a drag racer.

She even won several awards for her commanding presence on the race track.

Later, Roufs switched gears and changed careers from one behind the wheels to a trophy girl. Flaunting her stunning looks, charming personality, and her iconic go-go boots, she quickly rose to popularity.

Roufs stayed a trophy girl from the late ‘60s to the early ‘70s. 

In 1793, the Professional Dragster Association (PDA) granted her queen owing to her hammering success. Immediately after, she snatched the diva title for the 6th Annual US Professional Championship at Orange County.

Barbara Roufs became a frequent face in large drag race competitions. She became a favorite among fans and racers, often chosen to award trophies to victorious competitors.

She also modeled for manufacturers and brands promoting their products. Seeing her face in sports magazines and t-shirts was a common sight.


Barbara Roufs got married sometime between the ‘60s and ‘70s. However, she never revealed any information about her husband or details of their relationship.

That said, we know that the diva had a child in 1973 when she was 29. She named her son Jet Doughtery.

Tragic Death

Barbara Roufs

Image source: Google

After leaving her trophy girl career, Barbara Roufs slowly disappeared into obscurity. There’d be no relevant news about the race track diva until decades later.

In 2016, a famous photographer, Tom West, posted snaps of the Southern California race queen for commemoration. To the surprise of many, Rouf’s son came out to comment.

Giving tribute to his late mother, Jet Dougherty revealed Barbara Roufs’s tragic death. According to Dougherty, his mother committed suicide sometime in 1991.

After learning what happened, Tom West voiced his sorrow in a Facebook post. He recalled her time working with Roufs and regretted he didn’t keep in touch.

Dougherty expressed his gratitude to the internet. He noted that his mother would have been proud to be remembered and, although short-lived, his mum’s life was happy and fulfilling.

Rouf’s granddaughter, Crystal Dougherty, left fond comments as well. She conveyed how proud she is of the life and beauty of her late grandmother.

The late diva was 47 years old when she took her own life. Unfortunately, the cause of her suicide remains unknown to the public.

Thelma Ruby Riley, Barbara Roufs’s mother, passed away in 2005, 14 years after her daughter’s death.


Barbara Roufs

Image source: Pinterest

What Was the Net Worth of Barbara Roufs?

Barbara Roufs worked as a model and drag race trophy girl for more than ten years. Owing to her success, those became her primary sources of income.

While the exact money trophy girls made in the ‘60s and ‘70s is unclear, experts estimate Barbara Roufs’s net worth to be around $1 to $1.5 million.

What was Barbara Roufs known for?

Barbara Roufs was a prominent trophy girl in the drag racing industry. She rose to prominence because of her stunning physique and charming personality.

Barbara Roufs became an iconic face in drag racing competitions in the 1970s. She garnered several titles as one of the best trophy girls of her time.

Final Thoughts

Barbara Roufs’s life is a poignant tale of hard-earned triumph ending with a tragic conclusion. Nonetheless, there’s no question that the late diva was instrumental at a time when the racing industry was still evolving. 

Her brave hairstyle, gorgeous appearance, and lovely character made a tremendous impression on the race track. As such, she remains a queen to those who remember.

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