ASHLEY FORCE STUCK IN SEMIS AT HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK Points Leader Tries to Pad Advantage HOUSTON, Texas -- Ashley Force, the 22-year-old daughter of drag racing's biggest winner, can't wait for the day she can line up alongside her famous ...
ASHLEY FORCE STUCK IN SEMIS AT HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK
Points Leader Tries to Pad Advantage
HOUSTON, Texas -- Ashley Force, the 22-year-old daughter of drag racing's biggest winner, can't wait for the day she can line up alongside her famous father and engage in a little 300 mile-an-hour family feuding.
"I think he intimidates a lot of drivers," she said of the 13-time NHRA Funny Car Champion, "but to me, he's just Dad.
"I'm going to mess with him on the starting line," she joked. "He'll be worrying about whether I'm okay and by the time he reacts, I'll be gone. At least that's the way it is in my dreams.
"And if he fires me? Well, I know my Mom will just hire me back again."
Until that day, the 2003 graduate of California State University-Fullerton is happy to be driving one of the premier cars in the Lucas Sportsman Series, the Castrol/Hot Wheels dragster owned by Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows.
It's the car in which Ms. Force finished fourth in the world last year thanks to a late surge that delivered victories in the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Dallas, Texas and the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California Finals at Pomona, Calif.
It's also the car in which she hopes to win this week's 18th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals and thereby end a frustrating series of near misses at Houston Raceway Park, the track on which she has been a Top Alcohol Dragster semifinalist three times in as many previous appearances; once in last year's Spring Nationals and twice in Lucas Sportsman Series events.
The current national points leader, Ashley is coming off a runner-up finish in the most recent event in the primary NHRA series the March 20th Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., in which she dropped a final round decision by a mere .001 of a second.
As a result, she returns to HRP (where she was a semifinalist just last month) with renewed confidence in herself and her race car.
In just her second full year of competition, she already has gone to the final round six times in 16 national starts; five times in the last seven races dating back to September of 2004.
However, her ultimate goal is to drive one of her father's 300 mile-an-hour Ford Mustang Funny Cars although a Top Fuel dragster also is a possibility.
Either way, she would wind up racing against some of those who have been most influential in her development.
In Top Fuel, that would include two of the drivers who preceded her in the cockpit of the Darien and Meadows dragster: fellow "Gen 2 Cru" members Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas.
In Funny Car, in addition to her father, she would no doubt wind up competing against her brother-in-law, Robert Hight, rookie driver of the Auto Club Ford, and another member of the "Gen 2 Cru" Eric Medlen, second year driver of the Castrol SYNTEC® Mustang.
One day, she might even be part of the first sister-sister final round now that siblings Brittany (18) and Courtney (16) have gone through Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School and now are licensed to compete in Super Comp, the category in which Ashley began her career four years ago.
Even Mom has gotten into the act. Laurie Force, who took on the responsibility of raising the kids while her husband pursued his drag racing dream, recently earned her Super Comp license, as well.
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Did You Know? While attending Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda, Calif., Ashley took, as electives, auto shop and welding, the first solid indication of her desire to follow her father into racing....Ashley not only won last year's Division 4 championship (for racers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi), she also was named Driver of the Year and Rookie of the Year....Mattel, which last year introduced a Barbie-like Ashley Force doll, is reportedly planning a new version that will reflect sponsorship from Castrol as well as from its own Hot Wheels franchise, one that dates to the glory days of Don "the Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen....by an on-line vote of the readers of Hot Rod Magazine, Ashley recently was named the favorite "Real Woman of Hot Rodding," the result of a special issue of the magazine devoted to 10 women in motor racing, most of them drivers. Among them was Houston's Eric Enders, who'll drive a Pro Stock car in this week's Spring Nationals.