Daughter of Funny Car Champ Tries to Double Her Fun READING, Pa. (Oct. 8-10) -- While her father is trying to lock up a record 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship during this week's 20th annual Lucas Oil Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, ...
Daughter of Funny Car Champ Tries to Double Her Fun
READING, Pa. (Oct. 8-10) -- While her father is trying to lock up a record 13th NHRA Funny Car Championship during this week's 20th annual Lucas Oil Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, 21-year-old Ashley Force has a formidable challenge of her own.
Because while John Force would be happy with one win this week, his daughter has a chance to win two times in two days at the wheel of the Mattel Toy Store dragster.
A rookie this year in the Top Alcohol Dragster division, Ms. Force will oppose veteran Mike Kosky of Cuddy, Pa., on Saturday in the final round of a Lucas Oil Series regional race that began two months ago at Englishtown, N.J. One day later, she should be among the favorites in the NHRA national event that began life as the NHRA Keystone Nationals.
The former high school cheerleader also is expected to make a run at the No. 1 qualifying position considering the fact that she was the quickest qualifier for this year's 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., an event in which she would earn the first of her two career victories.
Ms. Force's rapid development is equal parts pedigree and preparation.
The second oldest of Force's four daughters, she is driving the Mattel Toy Store dragster for Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows.
Darien, a former schoolteacher, is widely recognized for developing such talented young drivers as Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas. Lucas, in fact, drove for Darien and Meadows a year ago when he won four of the last five races of the season en route to a second place finish in Lucas Series points. He now drives a Top Fuel car for legendary Pennsylvania drag racer Joe Amato.
In fact, Ms. Force is the seventh different driver to win an NHRA national event title in a Darien and Meadows dragster.
Although she is projected as a future driver of one of her father's 330 mile per hour Castrol-backed Funny Cars, she will remain with Darien and Meadows for the foreseeable future, certainly through 2005.
A 2003 graduate of California State University-Fullerton (where she majored in communications), Ms. Force understands the need for more experience. After all, this really is her first full season in competition.
She raced for the first time three years ago in the Super Comp class but her actual track time was limited by her school schedule. She actually got her degree in three-and-a-half years so that she could go racing full-time this season.