Courtney Force has been confirmed as one of the drivers at her father's legendary NHRA Funny Car team. Force, 23, joins John Force Racing in a Traxxas-sponsored Ford Mustang.
She spent much of 2011 testing and will make her professional driving debut Feb. 9-12 in the 52nd annual Kragen O'Reilly Winternationals at Pomona's Auto Club Raceway. Her background includes racing a Super Comp dragster, a Top Alcohol Dragster and then testing a full year in a BrandSource Ford Mustang Funny Car.
“I'm excited to finally be getting ready for my first professional race,” she said. “This is what I've always wanted to do and to have had my sister Ashley, my dad, brother-in-law Robert Hight and Mike Neff teach me makes it that much better. I have had the best teachers. I'm just going to learn all I can and see where it takes me.”
Although she was successful in the NHRA's Lucas Oil Sportsman Series, winning the Northwest Nationals at Seattle, Wash., on July 19, 2009, she admitted to some trepidation after her initial laps in her BrandSource Funny Car.
“Steering the car was one of the biggest changes for me,” she said of the differences between a 270mph dragster and a 315mph Funny Car. “You don't want to over-steer in a dragster (but) then you get in a Funny Car and you almost have to over-steer to keep the car going straight. There's just a lot more manhandling of the Funny Car than there used to be in the dragster, but it's definitely been fun.”
The black, red and white Traxxas Ford enters the equation as the ready-to-run R/C vehicle producer adds the NHRA to its motorsports platform. In anticipation of her pro debut, she will continue to test this month at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida in the car prepared by veteran crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Scott Wible.
“We've only seen a small portion of what she's capable of achieving,” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. “We're happy to welcome her officially as a member of the One Ford Funny Car team in 2012. It's something we've all anticipated and we are very excited and happy to have her on the Ford team.”
Her teammates in 2012 will be the returning trio of John Force, Robert Hight and Mike Neff. JFR's crew chief changes were announced in early December.