Brittany Force Still Making Strides
LAS VEGAS — After a successful rookie season ended with a flourish, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force appears to have taken the next step in 2014.
A season after winning the 2013 Auto Club Road to the Future Award, which goes to the top performing rookie driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Force continues to make strides, advancing to her first career final round early in 2014.
The next step is winning her first career race and Force will get her next opportunity at the 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race takes place March 28-30 at one of the world’s most state-of-the-art dragstrips and is the fourth of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in the 2014 season.
In 2013, Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) won the event. This year Force, the daughter of legendary Funny Car driver John Force, hopes to send her 8,000-horsepower Castrol EDGE dragster to the winner’s circle for the first time in her young career as her comfort level continues to grow in the world of 320 mph dragsters.
“Heading into the 2014 season the Castrol EDGE team now has a year of experience to work from,” Force said. “We are starting to come together and jell, we just need a few races to keep figuring it out. I believe we can continue to improve our starting positions and continue to go rounds. I think we’re heading in the right direction. Our car has been running extremely consistent especially with new crew chief Todd Smith on board.
“I have lots of great memories in Vegas as I remember watching my dad race here when I was younger. Between racing Sportsman cars and my Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster, I’ve been down that drag strip so many times.”
While learning the nuances of her powerful Top Fuel dragster in 2013, Force went through all of the expected ups and downs in a rookie season that ended on a high note. Her first semifinal appearance came in the final race of the season in Pomona and she carried that momentum into the first three races of 2014.
She set a career-best E.T. and speed at the season-opening Winternationals, with a performance of 3.778 seconds at 326.24 mph to qualify eighth. A race later, Force and her team demonstrated what they are capable of when things come together. She knocked out heavyweights Tony Schumacher, David Grubnic and Steve Torrence to reach the final round, where she went 3.793 in a narrow loss to 2012 world champion Antron Brown.
It’s a sign that Force, whose sister Courtney won the Auto Club Road to the Future Award in 2012, is on the right path. But seeing the success of her John Force Racing teammates simply pushes her that much more.
“Reaction times are still the toughest part,” said Force, who is currently sixth in points. “You can practice all you want, but it’s completely different when someone’s in the next lane and you’re strapped in with a helmet on and the engine making all that noise behind you. I’m still learning, and I’ll be learning for a while.”