As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series kicks off the 2013 season at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with the 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Feb. 14-17, rookie driver Brittany Force is ready to hit the dragstrip for the first time in a Top Fuel dragster in front of her hometown crowd.
A native of nearby Yorba Linda, she is the first member of the Force family to compete in the Top Fuel category. Force will be racing against many of NHRA’s best drivers following what was one of the most competitive Top Fuel seasons in the sport’s history. She will face 2012 world champion Antron Brown, seven-time champion Tony Schumacher, national record speed holder and defending Winternationals winner Spencer Massey, and reaction time expert Shawn Langdon, among many others.
“I’m excited to be out there,” Force said. “I’m going to be running against these guys I grew up watching. A lot have come over during testing, given me tips, advice, asked if I had any questions about things. They’ve all been really great. I’m anxious to get out there and be in the other lane next to them. I also have a lot of goals coming into the next season. I’m working with [crew chiefs] Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane. I think we have a really strong team. I would love to qualify at every national event. I would really like to go after my first win. I’m really going to go after it this week.”
With the support of a great team, put together and owned by her father, 15-time Funny Car champion John Force, Brittany feels confident making strong runs and feels safe in the equipment in which she will be competing.
“For me, I know my dad has put together a great team behind me,” said the 26-year-old. “It is the same with Robert [Hight] and Courtney [Force] and all of us. We have great teams behind us. I know they all support us. I know that they’re a really strong team and are going to build a fast car, but also a safe car, to take us down the track.”
In racing, not everyone has the same goals. Brittany’s older sister Ashley Force Hood had her own goals when she raced on the NHRA circuit, as does younger sister Courtney in Funny Car. Brittany feels she doesn’t need to compare herself to others because everyone is different.
John and Brittany Force
“For me, all my sisters, yeah, we’re all involved in the sport,” Force said. “We all love it. But when Ashley came out, she had her own set of goals, things she wanted to achieve. It was the same with Courtney. And it is the same with me. I’m going down my own path. I’m still involved in racing; it’s a Top Fuel car, a little different. For me, I have my own goals set. I don’t need to compare them to Courtney and try to beat her, her first win, whatever it is. For me, it’s about setting my own goals and achieving them myself in my time.”
In Funny Car, 2012 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Courtney will be looking to continue her momentum in her Traxxas Ford Mustang while father and defending race winner John will try to claim his seventh title at the tradition-rich event. Defending world champ Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals winner Cruz Pedregon, Hight, Alexis DeJoria, and Matt Hagan will be in the mix to win the Funny Car title in Pomona.
In Pro Stock, defending world champ Allen Johnson will try to pick up where he left off last season at the controls of his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger. His new teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., who was runner-up here one year ago, is looking to end his winless skid, and four-time winner Erica Enders-Stevens looks for continued success in her GK Motorsports Chevy.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful motorsports attraction on the planet. While visiting the pits, interactive NHRA Nitro Alley, and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway, fans will also want to check out NHRA’s popular Hot Rod Junction presented by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum that offers a spectacular display of many nostalgic dragsters, race cars, and hot rods.
Fans also will want to take advantage of the popular Championship Sunday Track Walk, which is free to all Sunday ticket holders. This popular event gives fans the opportunity to walk down the legendary dragstrip alongside some of the NHRA’s biggest stars.
Also, on Thursday at the track, fans will have the rare opportunity to attend a special Nitro Pit Party and Press Conference to kick off the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season in the Pro pits prior to the first qualifying session of the season. Many of the top stars in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be featured during the press conference, which starts at 11 a.m., including Brown, Courtney Force, Schumacher, Brittany Force, Beckman, Capps, Johnson, John Force, and Del Worsham.
As NHRA continues its Nitro Generation celebration, NHRA is offering free general admission for children 12 and younger with a paying adult. For tickets, log on to NHRATix.com or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center, 800-884-NHRA (6472).
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, and noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.
• TICKETS: For tickets, log on to NHRATix.com or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center, 800-884-NHRA (6472).
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 16, and on Sunday, Feb. 17, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. ET.