BRITTANY FORCE LOOKING FORWARD TO LAS VEGAS DEBUT LAS VEGAS --- In the past year 21 year-old Brittany Force has seen her share of personal tragedy at the race track. She has not let that diminish her drive, rather it has emboldened her to...
BRITTANY FORCE LOOKING FORWARD TO LAS VEGAS DEBUT
LAS VEGAS --- In the past year 21 year-old Brittany Force has seen her share of personal tragedy at the race track. She has not let that diminish her drive, rather it has emboldened her to continue to overcome her own fears.
She lost teammate and close friend Eric Medlen in a tragic testing accident last March. In July she witnessed her older sister Ashley Force's survive a harrowing crash in Seattle. Most recently last September her father, 14-time Funny Car World Champion John Force, survived the most serious accident of his 30 year career -- one that left him with a broken left ankle, broken wrist, and multiple abrasions. Still the junior who is majoring in English, with a possible minor in Business Administration, at Cal State Fullerton continued to stay focused on moving her racing career forward.
With a tremendous amount of support from her family and a solid crew behind her Brittany is looking forward to making her first competitive passes in the Brand Source Top Alcohol Dragster class at the 9th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 10-13.
Even with one of the most experienced support teams in the TAD class the rookie driver has the usual butterflies.
"I am nervous because it will be my first race, there will be a lot of people in the stands and it will be the first time I am racing against someone. I just have to focus on the fact that it is going to be like every other testing run when I am just worrying about doing what I am supposed to do; getting down the track safe and shutting the car off."
Brittany completed the necessary licensing runs to move up from the entry level Super Comp class where she competed for two seasons to the quicker and more powerful Top Alcohol Dragster category six weeks ago. She was preceded in this advancement by her younger sister Courtney who earned her license during the pre-season testing session in Phoenix and opened the season as the No. 11 at the CARQUEST Winternationals in Pomona.
Following the Springnationals in Houston Brittany got behind the wheel and made a number of test runs to familiarize herself with the dragster again. A number of tune-up adjustments were made and she experienced a surprisingly quick launch -- the quickest of the season - for the Jerry Darien tuned A/Fueler.
"On my first run we sped up the car and it was the quickest launch of the weekend for the car and I shut it off a little early. On my second run I knew where I was on the track better. I shut off right where I was supposed to," said the star of the A&E reality TV show Driving Force. "After everything that has happened over the past year we know there is stuff out there that can happen. I know it does get a little bit easier. I am excited for Vegas."
Brittany and Courtney will share the seat of the Jerry Darien owned and tuned Brand Source A/Fuel Dragster throughout the 2008 season. This is the same TAD that carried Ashley to five national and divisional event wins prior to her ascension to the Nitro Funny Car ranks at the beginning of the 2007 season. The bond between the sisters goes beyond driving tips and on track experiences.
"If I didn't have my family out here to talk me through everything I would be a mess. They always talk to me and tell me that I've made runs and I've always been racing. Ashley and Courtney have both run this A/Fuel car and they give me advice if I have questions. It definitely makes it a lot easier having them out here. It definitely calms me down. They'll also give me good luck."
Unlike her older sisters, Adria and Ashley, Brittany initially eschewed a job at John Force Racing, Inc., in Yorba Linda, Calif., to work instead at a pizza cafe. An even more obvious manifestation of her rebellious nature was the "I Love N.Y." T-shirt she wore on her father's 56th birthday while every other woman in the team compound was wearing "I Love John Force" apparel.
Like her father and sisters, Brittany is intensely competitive once she gets to the track and climbs into the cockpit. Nevertheless, a career in racing is no certainty. She also loves the glamour of Hollywood and since she is studying to become a teacher, all her options remain open.
"She's tough when she's in the car," her father said, "but she's got to learn to do everything else, like giving enough time to the sponsors and the media and the fans. She's always gone her own way, but if she wants to race, I'll do all I can to give her a chance (to succeed)."