Team Castrol Pre-Race Package/Ashley
Event: 36th Mac Tools Gatornationals, 3rd of 23 events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade
Site: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla.
Dates: March 17-20, 2005
Track TAD Records: 5.255 seconds, 274.05 mph by Bill Reichert, March 16, 2003.
Ashley Force at Gainesville:
Last year: After qualifying second behind Art Gallant, she beat Don Fiorelli and Rich
McPhillips before losing to Marty Thacker in the semifinals.
Personal Bests at Gainesville: 5.338 seconds, 269.73 mph, both in 2004.
Notable: Ashley's very first NHRA national event victory came in the biggest event in the
sport – the 2004 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., in which she became
just the third female champion in 50 years.
Television (all ESPN2): 7-8 p.m. (ET) on March 26; repeats at 4 a.m. (ET) on April 6; 11
a.m., April 17, on Inside Drag Racing.
John Force Racing
Lori Anne Gola
BP Lubricants/Castrol Racing
For Immediate Release
FUTURE FORCE SEEKS ALKY TITLE
AT MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS
22-Year-Old Following in Dad's Footsteps
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It's a generational anomaly that 22-year-old Ashley Force, one
of the Top Alcohol Dragster favorites in this week's 36th annual Mac Tools
Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, was a three-time NHRA event winner before
she first let out the clutch on a stick shift automobile.
In fact, the daughter of 13-time NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force may never
have learned the technique had she not agreed to provide quarter mile driving
instruction for a Ford Motor Co. "golf and go" function held last month at Homestead-
Miami Speedway in conjunction with the Ford-sponsored Doral Open golf tournament.
Ms. Force, who is in her second season at the wheel of the Castrol /Hot Wheels
dragster owned by Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows, a car that does not employ a
conventional manual transmission, learned to drive with an automatic transmission like
the one in her current street car, a Ford F-150 pickup.
As a result, when she was approached by Ford to serve as the "celebrity instructor"
for the drag racing portion of the Homestead event, she had to get up to speed, so to
speak, on the hows and whys of driving a stick shift car.
"Ford sent me a Focus for about a week," she said. "I drove that around and I'm
sure it was pretty traumatic for anybody that was near me. The following week, they
sent me a new Mustang and that was a lot easier for me to drive, I think because it had
a lot more power and the clutch had more resistence (so it wasn't so prone to stall).
"I still was a little nervous, but I just tried to remember, 'keep the clutch in, bring it
up to about 4,000 rpm and then take off.' It was really fun. I had no mishaps, the car
didn't die and I got to meet a lot of neat people, some PGA golf pros and Dale Jarrett
and some other Ford NASCAR drivers."
Nevertheless, Force, whose first career victory came in the biggest race in the
sport, last year's 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., will be a lot
more comfortable this weekend at 270 miles an hour than she was at Homestead at 80.
In fact, in little more than a season, the former high school cheerleader already
has won more rounds of racing (50 in both POWERade and Lucas Sportsman Series
events) than her father did in his first eight years on the NHRA tour.
After a two-year apprenticeship in Super Comp, she moved up to the Top Alcohol
Dragster class last season and quickly established herself as more than just the
daughter of the sport's biggest winner.
Not only did she win the U.S. Nationals, she won again three weeks later at
Dallas, Texas, and again at the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California
Finals at Pomona, Calif., where she shared the podium with her father, who claimed the
Funny Car championship in the same event. As a result, she finished fourth in the
national driver standings in Top Alcohol.
In addition, she won three regional races en route to the Division 4 points
championship and recognition not only as the divisional Rookie of the Year but also as
the Driver of the Year.
That's a tough act to follow, but the graduate of California State University-
Fullerton took the first step by reaching the semifinals of the season-opening
CARQUEST Winternationals, the same round in which she was eliminated last season
in her first appearance at the Gatornationals.
Although she is committed to at least one more season in Top Alcohol, she has
made no secret of the fact that one day she would like to move up to the Funny Car
division, not to take over the seat of her dad's Castrol GTX Start Up Ford, but to race
against him in a Mustang of her own.