Team Castrol Pre-Race Package/Ashley
Contact: Mandie Yorio
John Force Racing, Inc.
For Immediate Release
LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER:
ASHLEY A FAVORITE AT VEGAS
Points Leader Following a Force-ful Path
LAS VEGAS, Nevada â€“ It took Ashley Force half a season to get really
comfortable in the cockpit of the 275 mile-an-hour Castrol/Hot Wheels dragster she
began driving last season for Jerry Darien and Ken Meadows, the driver development
specialists whose alumni include current NHRA professionals Gary Scelzi, Brandon
Bernstein, Frank Pedregon and Morgan Lucas.
Once she achieved a comfort level, however, the 22-year-old daughter of drag racing legend John Force began winning with her father's documented precision.
The upshot is that the former high school cheerleader no longer can sign her autograph cards, "Ashley Force, zero wins," a takeoff on her dad's habit of
personalizing his own cards with the number of current victories in his record-breaking resume.
In fact, at her present pace, she might one day eclipse the elder Force's imposing records for tour victories (115) and series championships (13 and counting).
After all, Force didn't win his first race until he was 37. His daughter rolls into The
Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this week's sixth annual SummitRacing.com
Nationals having already won three NHRA national events, albeit it in the Top Alcohol
Dragster division, the drag racing equivalent of NASCAR's Busch Series.
Like her father, she comes into the race as the national points leader in her class.
Nevertheless, despite her expanding performance portfolio (she has gone to the finals in five of the last eight POWERade tour events she has run), the future Force is in no hurry to move up in classification; nor is her dad anxious for her to do so.
"She still needs seat time," Force said. "Anybody can drive a car from A to B
when everything's perfect. The key is to be able to drive in trouble and that's what she's
learning with Darien and Meadows. She's learning how to pedal (feather the throttle to
regain traction) and how far she can drive it without getting in trouble.
"(The Castrol/Hot Wheels dragster) is a serious race car," he continued. "They're
going faster than I was when I won my first Funny Car race (at Montreal, Canada in
1987). So I want her to get all the experience she can."
Nevertheless, there likely will come a day when the college graduate with the
Barbie doll good looks climbs into the seat of one of her father's 300 mile-an-hour
Castrol Funny Cars.
While her father is somewhat apprehensive about that transition, his daughter is
looking forward to it.
"Dad always says that to be the best you have to beat the best," Ashley said, "so I think it would be a shame if I didn't get to race a against him in a Funny Car. He has
the advantage of experience, but I know he'd be so worried about his little girl that he
probably wouldn't pay enough attention to what he needed to do and I'd be gone."
And if her father were incensed enough by such a victory to order her out of
"I know my mom would just hire me back," she laughed.
Indeed, racing has come full circle for the Forces. What began as a family effort in
the 1980s when John and wife Laurie toured together with a series of largely
unremarkable Funny Cars, has become even more so with Ashley's rapid development
in Top Alcohol and the interest shown by younger daughters Brittany (18) and Courtney
(16), who both now are licensed in Super Comp.
Even mom can talk from a driver's standpoint now that she has completed her
licensing runs through Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School.
"Drag racing took my kids away from me," said the family patriarch, "because I
was never home. I was always chasing my dream. But now it's given them back to me."
* * * *
Did You Know? By an on-line vote of the readers of Hot Rod Magazine, Ashley was
named the favorite "Real Woman of Hot Rodding," the result of a special issue of the
magazine devoted to 10 women in motor racing, most of them drivers. Among them
was Erica Enders, a rookie who's driving a Pro Stock car at Las Vegas...while attending
Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda, Calif., Ashley took, as electives, auto shop and
welding, the first solid indication of her desire to follow her father into racing....Ashley not only won last year's Division 4 championship (for racers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi), she also was named Driver of the Year and Rookie of the Year....Mattel, which last year introduced an Ashley Force doll, is reportedly planning a new version that will reflect sponsorship from Castrol as well as from its own Hot Wheels franchise.