Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gatornationals: Need for speed is in Brittany Force's genes

TAMPA — The concept of going 265 mph in a car is more than most people can handle. The thought of doing so within a few seconds from a standing start is certainly mind-blowing to nearly everyone.

For Brittany Force, as things turned out, that speed felt like a Sunday drive.

The daughter of NHRA legend John Force cranked it up a notch in 2013 by graduating from the Top Alcohol class to Top Fuel drag racers, and that path led her to her first victory at last year's Gatornationals in Gainesville.

"Everyone said the first win was always the toughest," said Force, 30, who is in her fifth full season of Top Fuel. "It was a big win for not just me but for all of John Force Racing because it was the first Top Fuel win for John Force Racing. Everything about it was just so special."

That breakthrough at Gatornationals led to her best season, with three victories on her way to a career-best sixth in points. This year Force is third in points, trailing leader Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher.

Force's family history in the sport is undeniable. John Force, 67, is a 16-time Funny Car champion; younger sister Courtney has nine career Funny Car victories (and is married to IndyCar star Graham Rahal); and older sister Ashley raced before quitting to marry and start a family.

Brittany Force seemed such a natural in the sport's glamour category that it's hard to imagine her resisting the idea. Yet she did so for years, thinking that she was content in Top Alcohol.

"(I thought) 265 mph was fast enough. I don't need to go any faster. Those people are nuts, my dad's nuts," she said of those who run at 300 mph.

The Cal State Fullerton graduate thought she was going to go into teaching (she has a bachelor of arts degree in English) and race as a hobby. Then five or six years ago, her father's team asked her to do some testing runs in a Top Fuel car as a favor.

"My plan was just to get the info they needed and I'd go back to (Top Alcohol)," Force said. "You could definitely feel the power in the (Top Fuel car). I made my first full pass, I got out at the other end and I said, 'Dad, we just opened a whole new box of worms.' I know I planned to go to school to be a teacher, but that's out the window. This is what I want to do. If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I'd have said no way."

Force likened the sensation of Top Fuel racing to "like being kicked in the chest, like having the wind kicked out of you. You're thrown into the back of your seat so hard, until you hit the (parachutes) and it's like getting the wind knocked out of you again."

But that's life at 330 mph — just Brittany Force's speed.

Gatornationals

When/where: Today-Sunday; Gainesville Raceway, 11211 N County Road 225, Gainesville

Tickets: Start at $20 for single-day junior; see nhra.com/tickets or call 1-800-884-6472

Schedule: Pro classes start qualifying at noon today; eliminations begin 11 a.m. Sunday; see nhra.com or gainesvilleraceway.com for information

Gatornationals

When/where: Today-Sunday; Gainesville Raceway, 11211 N County Road 225, Gainesville

Tickets: Start at $20 for single-day reserved junior (12-under); see nhra.com/tickets or call 1-800-884-6472

Schedule: Pro classes start qualifying at noon today; eliminations begin 11 a.m. Sunday; see nhra.com or gainesvilleraceway.com for information

Gatornationals: Need for speed is in Brittany Force's genes 03/17/17 [Last modified: Friday, March 17, 2017 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  2. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  3. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  4. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. Lightning's Steve Yzerman: Nikita Kucherov 'wants to be great'

    Blogs

    If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Nikita Kucherov joined Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games.