Ashley Force Bradenton preview

POINTS LEADER ASHLEY FORCE AIMS FOR FOLLOW-UP WIN AT BRADENTON Castrol Driver Among Top Alcohol Dragster Favorites BRADENTON, Fla. -- Fresh off a victory in last Sunday's ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, NHRA national points...

POINTS LEADER ASHLEY FORCE AIMS FOR FOLLOW-UP WIN AT BRADENTON
Castrol Driver Among Top Alcohol Dragster Favorites

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Fresh off a victory in last Sunday's ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, NHRA national points leader Ashley Force will make her first ever appearance at Bradenton Motor Sports Park this week in a Lucas Oil Sportsman Series event crowning champions in Top Alcohol Dragster and eight other categories.

     It will be the third Florida race in five weeks  for Ms. Force, the
23-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force, whose  Castrol-backed Funny
Car team has dominated the NHRA series for more than 15  seasons.

Not surprisingly, the 270 mile-an-hour dragster Ashley drives for California car owners Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows also flies the red-and-green so closely associated with Team Castrol, whose drivers have won 313 NHRA national events since the team was formed in 1984.

With her win last week, Ashley became the 15th different driver -- and first woman -- to contribute to that total.

     "I feel good about our team right now," Ashley  said.  "I don't know why
we're suddenly doing so well.  I think it's  the combination of the car and
the team and everything else just kind of falling  into place."
     A graduate of California State  University-Fullerton, Ashley has put her
B.A in communications to good use at  John Force Racing, Inc., where she
produces marketing and promotional videos as  well as an annual spoof that has
become the video highlight of the JFR Christmas  party.

A former cheerleader at Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda, Calif., Ashley grew up around racing and actually considered pursuing a job as a race car mechanic because of her fascination with the expertise of the crew members on her dad's team.

Toward that end, she took courses in auto shop and welding while at Esperanza. However, it took just one trip to Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School, a present from her father on her 16th birthday, to change her focus.

Nevertheless, she didn't start driving  competitively until she was into her
second year at Cal State.  For two  seasons, she balanced a full academic load
while driving a  Super Comp  dragster on selected weekends.
     Once she graduated, she moved up to the Top  Alcohol category with
Darien and Meadows, car owners known for developing young  drivers like Melanie
Troxel, Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Gary Scelzi and  Frank Pedregon.
     In her rookie season in Top Alcohol, she won three  NHRA national
events, including the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis,  Ind., won the South
Central division championship and finished fourth in  national points.
     Last year, the first in which NHRA imposed  sanctions restricting the
percentage of volatile nitromethane in the fuel mix,  she struggled, finishing
third in division points and seventh nationally.   Her only victory came in a
Lucas Series points meet like the one in which she is  competing this week.

Still, it wasn't a lost season for the aspiring Funny Car driver.

"I learned so much more last year than I did my first year," she said. "In 2004, everything went right and I guess I thought 'this isn't so hard.' Then last year came along and everything changed. I was used to the car going A to B, every run, but last year it never just went A to B. It shook the tires. It smoked the tires. It dropped cylinders. It ran to the center line. It ran to the wall.

"Dad told me that anyone can drive a car when everything's perfect," she concluded. "It's what you do when things aren't perfect that separates the drivers."

* * * *

Quotable:
"I've spent so much time in Florida this year that I probably could vote." -- ASHLEY FORCE, who is making her third competitive appearance in the state in the last five weeks.

-www.johnforceracing.com-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Ashley Force , Brandon Bernstein , Morgan Lucas , Frank Hawley