- Courtney Force, Contributor, espnW.com
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We just finished up racing in Bristol, Tenn., this past weekend at the beautiful Thunder Valley race track. The entire weekend had been hyped up for Father’s Day and it was also the race that my dad John Force and Robert Hight would unveil their specialty Elvis Presley race car bodies, which they ran for The King of Rock N' Roll's 35th Anniversary. It was definitely a unique race and it was great to be out there with my entire family to help celebrate Father's Day with our dad. I had many interviews with local TV news as well as with the local newspaper journalists to get the fans ready for the upcoming race weekend.
We started off the weekend pretty well by getting all four of our team cars qualified for the event. However, the race didn't go exactly how we had hoped. All four of our teams lost in the opening round, which hasn't happened all year, but this is NHRA Drag Racing, and anything can happen. Throughout qualifying I had a great race car and even earned a couple bonus points for being the second quickest car of the session. It was a hot race track, but we were able to get our car to go down it in both lanes, which was really important. We did well in qualifying, but the track and my Traxxas Ford Mustang had a mind of their own when eliminations rolled around on Sunday. First round I was paired up against Ron Capps. When we left I got my car off the starting line first, trying any way I could to get an advantage over a guy who has one of the quickest race cars out here. My Traxxas Ford was out ahead of his and was pulling away until about 500 feet when it dropped a cylinder and banged the blower, allowing him to drive around me and take the win. It's always a little frustrating when you know you have a race car that's capable of winning, but everything happens for a reason. Capps had a great car and had run the quickest of the weekend against me in the first round and even went on to win the entire race. I was really hoping to win that round so I could move on into the second round and face my dad because it was Father's Day.
The bad luck continued with the rest of my teammates as my dad, Hight and Mike Neff were all defeated and we were sent packing.
The positive thing coming out of Bristol is that it really put everything into perspective for us. We all stayed safe, learned something from our losses and I was even able to retain my 9th position in the overall points, so it really wasn’t that bad of a weekend. After all, it really gave me the motivation and drive to try even harder at the next race, since all of my competitors are only getting tougher.
The day after the event my older sister Brittany spent the day testing in her BrandSource Top Fuel Dragster. Brittany raced with me for the last six years in the Super Comp ranks as well as the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks. We both continued to finish college and get our degree in the meantime. When I finished with my BA, I decided to make the transition into testing in a Fuel Funny Car to prepare for my jump into the category full time this last year. During this time, Brittany was getting her teaching credentials and temporarily stepped out of the seat. When she completed the training before this season started, she decided it was the perfect time to get back in the car and prepare for her transition in the Top Fuel Dragster. Our entire family was out there supporting her and watching her progression in one of the fastest cars on the circuit.
She has made some great runs and is learning with every pass down the race track. It's so cool that I now have two sisters (and my dad), that have officially experienced the feeling of driving a race car at over 300 miles per hour in under four seconds. This sport is such an adrenaline rush and you really need to have a passion for it in order to get into one of these beasts, but they're so much fun to drive and they can throw a curve ball at you on every pass. I couldn't imagine having any other job. They're pretty extreme since they have the tendency to blow up in your face, catch on fire, smoke the tires, or crash, so you really need to be on top of your game and ready for anything!
When we leave Bristol we will be heading back home to California and enjoying an off-weekend, before heading to the Chicago race. This upcoming week I'll be celebrating my 24th birthday and I’m looking forward to some fun in the sun before the next race! In Chicago, I'll be busy with a couple local media tours and am even getting the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Cubs game on June 27th so I'm really looking forward to that as well as making a comeback at the race in my Traxxas Ford Mustang!