Courtney and Brittany Force follow dad’s footsteps

By Judy Colman:                   

If you spent every summer on the road with your famous, race car driving Dad, what would you want to do when you grew up? For Courtney and Brittany Force, and their older sister Ashley before them, the answer would be: Drive a race car.  But not just any race car.  A really fast drag racing car.

John Force will have a legacy greater than just his current 15 World Championships in the National Hot Rod Associations Funny Car class.  He will leave three daughters vying for top spots in a male dominated sport.  Ashley, who temporarily stepped away from nitromethane fuel Funny Cars to start a family, was the first to join the John Force Funny Car team in 2007.  Today Courtney, 25, the youngest Force daughter, is in her sophomore year with John Force Racing, and middle sister, Brittany, 27, found her way to Top Fuel dragsters for her rookie season.

All three girls made their way through the amateur ranks of drag racing in the same manner.  Each spent three years in the Super Comp class followed by three years in Top Alcohol Dragster.  Only then did they start testing the big girl cars.  Courtney’s testing began in 2011 when the team would often stay at the track after an event to test on Monday.  Courtney had to run the car with a restrictor plate, similar to the ones used in NASCAR, or her tests would count against her dad’s testing limits.  Since she was testing her dad’s car with her dad’s team, using the restrictor plate was the only way for Courtney to practice and not jeopardize her dad.  Even then, she was going 300 miles per hour on a full run.

Brittany graduated from Cal State Fullerton and spent an extra year there obtaining her teaching credential.  After her tenure in Top Alcohol Dragster, Brittany headed to Top Fuel dragsters rather than Fuel Funny Cars.  Racing the Castrol Edge Top Fuel Dragster in her rookie season, she has posted a best qualifying position of third in Denver and has five round wins to her credit.  Her crew chief, Dean Antonelli, is well known to Brittany.  He directed Ashley to her two U.S. Nationals wins and her third place Funny Car points finish in 2010.

Brittany and Courtney agree that travelling with their dad every week is difficult.  Not only is he involved to a large extent in their everyday lives, he is also their boss.  Courtney has the added benefit, or burden, of being John’s competitor.  The first time she faced her father at the start line in 2012 she admitted to being excited, not scared.  Her whole life she dreamed about racing with him.  So far this year John beat her on Father’s Day but she came back to win the final eliminations and championships in Epping, New Hampshire on her birthday one week later.

These days, a daughter going into her father’s business is not too unusual. But three daughters choosing drag racing as their career certainly is.  John taught his children well and gave them a whole arsenal of tools to achieve the coveted “Wally” trophy at the end of the day.  He gave them his time, his experience, and top-notch equipment.  The results are educated, funny, and talented drivers who energetically promote their sport.

Brittany and Courtney Force took time from their very busy schedules to attend a media luncheon for local journalists in San Francisco a few days prior to the NHRA event in Sonoma.  At that event, Brittany lost to Doug Kalitta in the first round of Sunday’s final eliminations, and Courtney made it to the semi-final round before being defeated by Ron Capps.