ASHLEY A STEP AWAY FROM MORE HISTORY Champ's Daughter Leads Funny Car Class ATLANTA, Ga. -- One by one, Ashley Force is breaking down the stereotypical barriers that helped create the erroneous perception of Funny Car drag racing as...
ASHLEY A STEP AWAY
FROM MORE HISTORY
Champ's Daughter Leads Funny Car Class
ATLANTA, Ga. -- One by one, Ashley Force is breaking down the stereotypical barriers that helped create the erroneous perception of Funny Car drag racing as exclusively a men's club; the last bastion of male dominance in a sport that today is becoming known as much for its diversity as for its raw power.
The 25-year-old daughter of 14-time Funny Car Champion John Force rolls into Atlanta Dragway for this week's 28th annual Summit Racing Southern Nationals in a position never before occupied by a woman driver -- as the Funny Car points leader.
Coming off consecutive runner-up finishes, the second oldest of Force's four daughters has two more milestones in sight this week.
One, she would like to earn a breakthrough first tour victory in a Castrol GTX Mustang that has led the Ford contingent at each of the last three events. Two, she'd like to become the first female Funny Car driver in the 39-year history of the category to start a race from the No. 1 qualifying position.
She has both the credentials and the resources needed to transform what once was merely female fantasy into 8,000 horsepower reality.
Nevertheless, the most appealing aspect of Ashley's run at her own measure of racing history has been how she has managed to remain largely unaffected by the media storm that has swirled around her ever since she announced last year that she was moving up in classification to compete against -- and with -- her father.
After leap-frogging the boys to get to the top of the Funny Car standings, she refused to read too much into the accomplishment.
"The thing about drag racing that we all know is you can go from hero to zero very quickly," said the 2007 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year. "We are enjoying (success) now, while we have it, but we know there are three other teams in our camp alone who are gunning for that number one spot.
"I still want that first win (but) we're trying not to get anxious about it," said the former high school cheerleader. "Seeing so many of these other teams out here and how good they are and how long they have waited to win, including my father, I would really be a real snot if I got bratty about it.
"So, I am just being patient and as long as I don't start thinking too much about it and just continue to come out to the races and enjoy racing and being with my team, eventually we'll get (that first win)."
Ashley particularly is looking forward to returning to Atlanta Dragway, the track on which she beat her father in last year's first round and the track that two years ago yielded a Top Alcohol Dragster victory, one of five native wins she earned at that level.
"Dad and I are 1-1 against each other," she said. "I beat him at Atlanta and he beat me at Sonoma (Calif., in the first round of last July's FRAM/Autolite Nationals). Maybe we'll break the tie this week. All I know is he wouldn't want me to go up there with anything but winning on my mind -- even if it meant keeping him from winning his thousandth round. He wants me to do my job and my job is to win for Castrol, for Ford, the Auto Club and all our other sponsors."