In 2007, Ashley Force-Hood won the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as NHRA Rookie of the Year. In 2012, her sister Courtney followed suit, also in the Funny Car ranks. In 2012, middle sister Brittany Force tries to make her mark on the Rookie of the Year award, but she’ll be doing it in the Top Fuel division.
“I'm excited to be out there. I'm going to be running against these guys I grew up watching,” said Force in a recent NHRA teleconference. “A lot have come over during testing, given me tips, advice, asked if I had any questions about things. They've all been really great. I'm anxious to get out there and be in the other lane next to them. I also have a lot of goals coming into the next season. I'm working with Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane. I think we have a really strong team. I would love to qualify at every national event. I would really like to go after my first win. I'm really going to go after it this week.”
The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season starts February 14th through 17th at the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California, and Force will join Courtney, her father John Force and brother-in-law Robert Hight in the pro categories for the first time after competing in Super Comp and Alcohol Fuel dragster.
“I know my dad has put together a great team behind me,” said Force. “The same with Robert and Courtney and all of us. We have a great team behind us. I know they all support us. I know that they're a really strong team and are going to build a fast car but a safe car to take us down the track in.”
In spite of her rookie status, Force has already been impressive in pre-season testing. “I'm shocked,” said Force of her test sessions. “When I was in West Palm running the Castrol edge Top Fuel car, we made about 10 or 11 runs that week. I don't remember what run it was, but I ended up running a 3.79, at 324 miles per hour which was my best ever. I mean it felt a lot faster, going from a 3.85 to a 3.79, I definitely felt how much faster it was. When they told me, I couldn't believe that I had ran that. I know I have an awesome team behind me. I know we're only going to make changes to the car, speed it up, and it's only going to get faster. I'm looking forward to it all.”
One thing Force will need to get used to is the canopy she’ll be running in 2013 – her testing dragster didn’t have one. “For me, I am a little claustrophobic, depending on the situation,” confessed Force. “In that car, it's already so tight with the gear you're wearing, the helmet, all that extra padding, the seat that's formed right for your body, it's already so tight in there. It was nice having that open cockpit. When they told me they were putting that on, I was like, oh, no. I was a little worried about it. Like I said earlier, I was worried about it. I did lose a little of my side vision. I talked to some of the drivers out there. Tony Schumacher told me, it's good not having that side vision, because when you have that vision, you end up driving towards that car. So it's good I don't have as much side vision as I used to have.”
Force, who has a BA in English and her teaching credential, was happy in A/Fuel, but there was no sponsorship to be found – even for a Force. “My dad threw out the idea of testing in a Top Fuel car, maybe gaining exposure that way, which was a big trick,” said Force. “He knew once I got in that car, I wouldn't want to get out of it. Like I said, my plan was I wanted to run the A Fuel, I didn't know if I wanted to do teaching or what I wanted to do…when I made my first pass in my Top Fuel car (in Las Vegas), it was my first full pass, I ran a 3.96, and that's when I realized that I was hooked. I was not going to hop out of that seat anytime soon, that was the ride I wanted to go, and we just continued from there.”
Get ready for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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