The L.A. Times just broke the story about Ashley Force joining the ranks of her father, John Force, in the professional Funny Car world.
The speeches had been made, the sponsors introduced, the one-on-one interviews completed. When the conference call was finally over, John Force, a 14-time funny car champion in National Hot Rod Assn. drag racing, could take a deep breath. And then came a casual question: "Is today your proudest day?"
Yes, he said, because Daddy's little girl was following in his tire tracks as a professional funny car driver.
Today, four weeks after that announcement, Ashley Force makes her debut at Pomona Raceway in the 47th annual Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.
According to many in drag racing, it may be the dawn of a new era.
"She's going to make this sport much, much better," said Tony Schumacher, three-time defending top-fuel champion. "The only thing that would concern me is if anything happened. If she got hurt, it would be hard on the sport."
When the announcement was made, John Force, at 57, drag racing's winningest driver, got choked up.
"This is bigger to me than when I won my first championship," he said. "This is bigger to me than when I won [the nationals] at Indy because it's my child that's driving a fuel funny car."
Ashley, 24, had three partial seasons in a super comp dragster while earning her bachelor's degree in communications at Cal State Fullerton and raced the last three seasons in a top-alcohol dragster, winning in that division in the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis in 2004.
Those were development classes, though, and for the last 18 months, she has also tested a funny car — funny cars rank second only to top-fuel dragsters on drag racing's speed chart — in anticipation of this day.
Go here for the rest of the L.A. Times article.