Courtney Force and legendary dad make more drag-racing history

 John Force
John Force celebrates a victory with his daughter Courtney at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
(Associated Press via NHRA)

Lots of kids follow in their parents’ footsteps career-wise: Cops, lawyers, grocery store owners, ballplayers.

But few do so driving 300-mph dragsters, and even fewer do it successfully while their parents are still racing.

That’s one reason why Courtney Force’s win at the National Hot Rod Assn.'s New England Nationals on Sunday was notable and historic.

Like her legendary father, John Force, the 25-year-old Courtney races 7,000-horsepower funny cars, one of two elite classes of dragsters in the NHRA’s premier Mello Yello Series. The other is top fuel.


Courtney Force won the funny car event in Epping, N.H., by defeating her 64-year-old father in the final round of eliminations.

Her victory came one week after John Force -- the record 15-time funny car champion -- earned the 135th win of his storied career in Bristol, Tenn., making him the oldest driver ever to win a funny car event.

And with Courtney’s win, it was only the second time in NHRA history that a father and child won back-to-back funny car events. The others were Jim Dunn and his son Mike in 1981.

It’s only happened once in top fuel: Connie Kalitta and his son Scott accomplished the feat in 1994. (Scott Kalitta later switched to funny cars and was killed in a racing crash in 2008.)


This is Courtney Force’s second year in NHRA funny cars, and Sunday’s win was her second this year and the third of her young career. This year she also won the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona in February.

On Sunday’s final run, Courtney said her car “got in a little bit of trouble” with handling as it raced down the 1,000-foot dragstrip at New England Dragway, “but I had my foot on the throttle hoping [John] wouldn’t catch up.”

“After the win, he came over and hugged me and congratulated me,” Courtney said of her dad. “We were both really excited.”


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