ASHLEY ON FAST TRACK AT BRISTOL DRAGWAY Champ's Daughter Among Funny Car Favorites BRISTOL, Tenn. - For years, Ashley Force Hood couldn't understand why, after such a short time behind the wheel, Funny Car drivers always seemed exhausted...
ASHLEY ON FAST TRACK AT BRISTOL DRAGWAY
Champ's Daughter Among Funny Car Favorites
BRISTOL, Tenn. - For years, Ashley Force Hood couldn't understand why, after such a short time behind the wheel, Funny Car drivers always seemed exhausted when they climbed out of their vehicles at the end of the racetrack.
"I never understood how they could be tired after just four-and-a-half seconds," said the 26-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force.
Well, now that she's a driver herself, one of the Funny Car favorites at this week's NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, she finally understands.
"After a run, I'm sore, achy and feel like I've run a marathon," acknowledged the graduate of Cal State-Fullerton. "The human body is not made to do what we do."
What the former high school cheerleader does is subject herself to pressures equal to five G's whenever her 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX? Ford Mustang launches from the startling line on its way to 300 miles per hour.
"We reach 100 miles per hour in less than a second," she said, "but I really feel the speed about halfway down the track. When the clutch engages, it's like getting the wind knocked out of you."
Despite the apparent contradiction, Force Hood insists that she's having the time of her life as the most successful woman ever to drive in the NHRA Funny Car division.
The 2008 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year on the strength of a 10th place finish in Funny Car points, she trumped that performance with a spectacular sophomore season during which she became the first woman to win a Funny Car race, the first to lead the points and the first to qualify for the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.
Now she has her sights set on an even more ambitious goal: becoming the first woman in the 40-year history of the Funny Car breed to claim the championship.
A winner already this year (at Houston) and the only one of four John Force Racing drivers to have appeared in more than one final round, she is the highest- placed of the Ford drivers (fourth).
After a first round loss two weeks ago at Madison, Ill., she's anxious to get back on the track and make amends.
"It always seems like when you have a bad race, you're off the next weekend," she said. "It's better to go right back to work and not dwell on it.
"It was just one of those weekends," Ashley said of her loss to Tony Pedregon in the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals. "Every run I felt like I was making mistakes (even though) the car went down the track every time.
"Whatever happened, we've just got to forget about it. I think we can get right back where we need to be. I've learned that you're going to have some rough weekends. Hopefully, we got ours out of the way."
Although she likes Bristol, Ashley's Thunder Valley resume is a modest one. She failed to qualify for the race as a rookie and was ousted in the second round a year ago by eventual winner Melanie Troxel.