Another Force to make Funny Car debut

Another Force to make Funny Car debut

Published Jan. 10, 2012 6:42 p.m. ET

Funny Car legend John Force is the first to admit he's not
too in touch with what's going on with his daughters these days.

"They are on computers and Twitter and do apps and that stuff," Force
said. "I can't even figure out my telephone. Racing is something I know.
This is something I can teach because I understand it. It gives me a chance to
do something for my kids."

He'll have a chance to play teacher again as his youngest daughter Courtney
announced on Tuesday that she will race this season in the NHRA Funny Car class
alongside her father. Courtney Force, 23, will drive the Traxxas-sponsored Ford
Mustang, making her debut Feb. 9 at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals at
Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

Courtney Force spent all of last season testing for the jump to the Funny Car
class. Now she'll do so as a member of John Force Racing.

"I'm a little nervous but if you're nervous, you're not ready to reach
when you need to," Courtney Force said Tuesday. "You need to be
confident when you drive the race car. That definitely helps a lot. Stepping up
into the professional ranks is exciting. It's something I wanted ever since I
was a little kid."

John Force likes to joke that if he had sons, the racing path would have been a
lot easier for them. His daughters are showing that talent knows no gender.

Ashley Force Hood was a star in the Funny Car class before taking off the 2011
season to have a baby. She won't race this year, either, but Courtney will fill
that Force void in the Funny Cars. Brittany Force, another of John Force's four
daughters, will test-drive a Top Fuel dragster this year.

However Courtney Force fares this year, she knows she'll have the support of
her family. Her father knew she was ready for the jump, but finding a sponsor
was the chief concern. Now the team has one in the Dallas-based remote-controlled
car company.

And now she's ready for the next phase of her career.

"It's all been a little bit overwhelming," said Courtney Force, who
will have Ashley's former crew chief in Ron Douglas. "To be in the Funny
Car, I really can't believe it. To be able to compete with my father is very
exciting. I thrilled and everything. I'm ready to make the transition."

Courtney Force isn't ready to make any predictions about what 2012 will bring. First,
she wants to be competitive with a brand-new team.

Her father has no idea what to expect out of her on the track, either. But the
teacher did stress several points to her.

"I gave her like five things," said the always-talkative 15-time Funny
Car champ. "Love her sponsor. Love the NHRA. Love the fans. Love driving
these hot rods. But at the end of the day, be safe. That's all I can give you.
If you think you can drive over your head because you've got magic, I don't
know what's going to happen. I don't know what to expect out of her. I've seen
guys that were good in testing, good in qualifying and freeze up when it
counted. I'm not going to do that to my kid."

As for the expectations that come with being a Force, Courtney isn't racing on
name only. She won in top alcohol dragsters at the Northwest Nationals in
Seattle in 2009. She also has the backing of one of the best teams in the sport
in JFR.

How that translates onto the strip remains to be seen, but Courtney is eager to

"Sure there's a lot of pressure being my father's daughter," Courtney
said. "I have to fill the shoes of him and Ashley. Ashley went out there
and won races. I'm hoping to one day be as successful as them. But it's about
learning form my dad and (JFR teammates) Mike Neff and Robert Hight. I hope I
learn fast and can be competitive. I'd like to beat up on all of them."

She's certainly got the name for it.