YORBA LINDA, Calif. (January 10, 2012) – Courtney Force, who for the last four seasons learned how to deal with all of the off-track aspects of professional racing, finally will get a chance to show what she can do on the track as driver of an 8,000 horsepower Ford Mustang sponsored by Traxxas, the world leader in ready-to-run radio controlled vehicles.
Already a skilled interviewee, reality TV star, spokesperson for Ford Motor Company's Driving Skills for Life program, national marketing contest winner, and fan favorite, the 23-year-old daughter of 15-time NHRA champion John Force will make her professional driving debut Feb. 9-12 in the 52nd annual Kragen O'Reilly Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
"For Traxxas, Courtney represents more than just a female driver on the track. The family that she comes from has been racing and she's been a part of racing all of her life. She's not just another girl at the racetrack, she's a girl that has John Force DNA embedded in her and it shows," said Mike Jenkins, Traxxas' president. "Take a couple of minutes and talk with Courtney; you'll see the competitiveness that comes out in that girl. She's going to represent our company and our brand. She's been a top pick for us for a very long time--we're proud to have her on."
After winning an NHRA national event in the Top Alcohol Dragster class and earning "Top Agent" honors in the marketing contest that fueled Ford's Fiesta Movement introduction in 2010, the statuesque blonde spent last season testing in a Ford Funny Car after selected Full Throttle tour events.
In anticipation of her pro debut, she will continue to test this month at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida in a Traxxas Ford Mustang prepared by veteran crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Scott Wible. "Courtney proved she has the same competitive drive that's made her father successful, working her way through the Super Comp and Top Alcohol Dragster ranks," said Jamie Allison, Director of Ford Racing. "We've only seen a small portion of what she's capable of achieving," Allison continued, "(and) 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."
Although their personalities are exceedingly different, Courtney followed older sister Ashley Force Hood's lead in developing her current career path. Like Ashley, she took auto shop as one of her high school electives, was a cheerleader at Esperanza High School, graduated from Cal State-Fullerton with a degree in Communications and was a star of the A&E real life series "Driving Force" which last aired in 2007.
Moreover, like her sister, she learned drag racing basics in a Super Comp dragster, honed her skills in a Top Alcohol Dragster and then tested for a full year in a BrandSource Ford Mustang Funny Car. That training complete, she now is focused on making her own way to the top of her chosen sport, especially after being identified as one of the "most promising newcomers" in professional sports by ESPN The Magazine's NEXT poll.
"I'm excited to finally be getting ready for my first professional race," said the woman who hopes to compete for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award which identifies the "Rookie-of-the-Year" on the NHRA's 23-race Full Throttle tour. "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 270 mph dragster and a 315 mph 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."
Courtney acknowledged that she is excited not only about competing against her father and other teammates but also against Alexis DeJoria, another woman driver who made her pro debut late last season. "Watching Alexis last year just made me that much more eager to get out there with her because she's having fun with it and she's done really well. I can't wait to get out on the track and start making laps and promoting my great sponsors Traxxas, Ford Racing, Castrol, Auto Club, Mac Tools and BrandSource."