Force Plans For Next Generation
YORBA, LINDA, Calif. — John Force’s Castrol/Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car fleet, the machine shop, the transporters, The Eric Medlen Project all sit in cold Brownsburg, Ind., awaiting the start of the National Hot Rod Ass’n season.
However, all the hot news from John Force Racing came Jan. 25 from his Yorba Linda, Calif., facility. A testimony to Force’s penchant for drama, he used his preseason press conference to fire a barrage of blockbuster news. Any one item would have packed a powerful punch by itself.
But Force’’s salvo included daughter Ashley Force Hood’s pregnancy and her new job as President of the newly established John Force Entertainment subsidiary, driving teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight’s promotion to president of JFR, Mike Neff’s return to the driver’s seat but this time in the 15-time Funny Car champion’s Castrol GTX Mustang, longtime employee and crew chief Dean Antonelli’s elevation to General Manager of the John Force Racing Brownsburg facility, youngest daughter Courtney’s progress report, and a traveling road show designed to promote drag racing.
In addition to Force Hood’s impending motherhood and new role at JFR that will engage her Cal State Fullerton communications degree to its full potential, the rising Funny Car star will continue to tutor sister Courtney as she takes the next steps toward driving the BrandSource Ford Funny Car in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Courtney Force will not compete in the Funny Car class this season but might enter a couple of races toward the end of the schedule. She will test on Mondays following selected races for most of the year.
For the past three seasons, she has developed as a driver behind the wheel of a Jerry Darien-tuned Top Alcohol Dragster. It is the same path her sister and Top Fuel drivers Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas followed. In 2009, Courtney Force won at Seattle and reached the final round at Pomona, Calif., in the season-closer. Last year, with her sister and Hight coaching her, she began learning every facet of her new ride.
“I am getting familiar with the feel of the brake, the steering, and the levers, since they are all different from my dragster,” Courtney Force said. “”Hitting the throttle was a huge rush, and I am excited to start testing in February.”
She recently was graduated from Cal State Fullerton, with a degree similar to her sister Ashley’s, and she said, “I know I have a lot to learn, but I have the best teachers in the world. Between teammate Robert Hight and my dad, they know everything about racing Funny Cars. Add in the fact that my sister Ashley came up through the sportsman series, just like I did. Those three drivers will give me a big advantage. They will have all the answers. It is up to me to learn as much as I can.”
Quipped Force Hood, “I am excited to help my sister Courtney as she begins testing in fuel Funny Car. And I am very interested in seeing how she deals with Dad. Handling 8,000 horsepower will be the easy part.”
Force will be one of the first drivers to take advantage of the revised NHRA testing policy for new drivers. Under certain conditions, testing can be conducted for the purpose of new driver training and licensing as long as the race car utilizes a supercharger air intake restriction (restrictor plate) on all training runs. Dan Olson, NHRA’s director of Top Fuel and Funny Car racing, and Graham Light, NHRA senior vice-president of racing operations, gave JFR prior approval for the exemption.
Courtney Force and her BrandSource Mustang will join the JFR contingent in preseason testing Feb. 5-9 at Palm Beach In’l Raceway at Jupiter, Fla.
John Force also announced that daughter Brittany Force, who teaches middle school in the suburban Los Angeles area, has plans to get back into the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks mid-season in 2011 in her BrandSource Dragster.
Neff, top-10 driver in 2008 and 2009, sat his helmet on the shelf last year when budget cuts obliged Force to park the fourth Mustang in his operation. With Force Hood’s pregnancy bumping her from the driver’s seat, Neff will slide behind the wheel again.