POMONA, Calif. – She was a college English major trained as a schoolteacher, but as the rookie driver of one of the world’s fastest race cars, one capable of reaching competitive speeds of 330 miles per hour, Brittany Force understands that she’s still just a student.
Although she’s driven nothing but dragsters since she began racing in Super Comp almost seven years ago, Brittany is the first driver ever to compete in a John Force Racing-prepared Top Fuel dragster – and she’s revved up about the opportunity.
“I’m excited to be out there,” she said after completing two months of vigorous pre-season testing. “I’m going to be (racing) against all these guys I grew up watching. A lot (of them came) over during testing, giving me tips and advice, asking me if I had any questions. They’ve all been really great.”
That situation may change this weekend when the 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals signals the start of the NHRA’s 2013 Mello Yello Series. That’s because Brittany already has demonstrated that she plans to be much more than just window dressing for the Top Fuel class.
“I’m anxious to get out there in the other lane next to them,” she said. “I think we have a really strong team with Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane (making the tune-up decisions).”
In fact, the most rebellious of John Force’s four daughters applied an exclamation point when she was clocked at 3.796 seconds on her final test run last month at West Palm Beach, Fla.
“When Ashley (older sister Ashley Force Hood, the former driver of the Castrol GTX Funny Car) came out, she had her own set of goals,” Brittany said. “Same with (younger sister) Courtney. Same with me. I’m going down my own path.
“For me, it’s not about comparisons to Ashley or Courtney. It’s about setting my own goals and achieving them myself in my time.”
That isn’t to say she isn’t ambitious.
“I would love to qualify for every national event. That’s a goal,” she said, “and I would really like to get my first win. I came close in Super Comp and A/Fuel (Top Alcohol Dragster) but never got it.”
Although her dad was not quite sure of her dedication to a racing career, Brittany now says she never doubted that she would wind up working in the sport although she never imagined it would be at the wheel of the fastest accelerating vehicle on the planet.
“I love the sport of drag racing,” Brittany said, “(and) I always thought I’d be involved in it in some way.”
Nevertheless, when funding for the Top Alcohol team evaporated, the second youngest of the Force girls was unsure of her future, especially since she had decided that dragsters, not Funny Cars, were what she wanted to drive.
“My dad threw out the idea of testing in a Top Fuel car with the Ford BOSS 500 motor,” she said. “It was just a big trick because I think he knew once I got in that car, I wouldn’t want to get out of it. The moment I ran 3.96 on my first full pass in Las Vegas, I realized I was hooked. That was the ride I wanted and we just continued from there.”
There was one final hurdle to clear before this week’s race, however.
“I’m a little claustrophobic,” she admitted, “and the full cockpit canopy took a little getting used to. When they told me (they were installing the canopy), I was like, ‘oh, no.’ But now I feel very comfortable.”
John Force Racing