Her name, Courtney Force, truly fits the drag racer since she is a force to be reckon with on and off the track.
Courtney, who lost to her father, John, in the Funny Car finals of last fall’s Las Vegas Strip event, is reversing an early season slump with a strong showing this weekend. Courtney Force set a Funny Car track record in qualifying Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and seeks to hold the No. 1 position through Saturday’s sessions ahead of the NHRA Nationals, the fourth round of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Force – in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS – turned in a time of 3.867 seconds at 327.66 mph in the opening round of qualifying and held the top spot through two rounds, as others took turns – unsuccessfully – trying to knock her out of the No. 1 spot.
“We’re starting the weekend out on the right note,” said Force, who qualified No. 1 at the Las Vegas spring race in 2014. “To go to the top spot and set the track record definitely feels good. I’m proud of my guys – (crew chief) Danny Hood and (co-chief) Ronnie Thompson and all the guys. Feels good to get the car down there.”
The youngest daughter of 16-time NHRA World Funny Car Champion John Force and his wife Laurie, she also has two sisters, Brittany Force and Ashley Force Hood, as well as half-sister Adria Hight. She is married to IndyCar racer Graham Rahal, who is the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. Brittany currently races in the top field dragster category. Ashley had raced a fuel funny car for Four Seasons with great success and Adria works for the John Force Racing company. Ashley’s husband is Courtney’s crew chief, her niece Autumn drives a junior dragster and her nephews are anxious to being racing.
“One of the greatest things for me is to be in a 330-mile funny car in a male dominated sport,” Courtney told Las Vegas Woman magazine. “I want to inspire other women to follow their dreams and do the same.”
Many people have questioned her about her love of racing and being one of the few females racing. “I think one of the best part is that I have seen other women break down barriers. Shirley Muldowney, Shelly Anderson, my sister Ashley, all inspired me. It is really cool to continue this and inspire others,” she explained.
Force is thrilled when young girls come up to her ropes at the racetrack, and tell her how they want to enter racing because of her. “When I sign their tiny gloves and helmets, it is so amazing to meet them. They see racing as a dream job and something they want to get into.”
On July 19, 2009, Courtney won her first national event in the Top Alcohol Dragster category at the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle. After her sister Ashley announced her retirement from competitive racing, Courtney became the fourth driver for John Force Racing. On July 27, 2014 Courtney passed her sister for the record of most Funny Car wins by a female driver in NHRA history. Off the racetrack, she is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton having majored in Communications.
More qualifying sessions and elimination rounds follow on Saturday, with final eliminations and divisional championships being determined on Sunday.
All children 12 and under get a free General Admission ticket when accompanied by a ticketed adult, and every ticket is a pit pass at the NHRA event. For tickets or more information, log on to www.LVMS.com or call the LVMS Ticket Office at 800-644-4444.