NHRA Story
Special: Force earns 100th victory for females in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Sunday, May 25, 2014


Funny Car driver Courtney Force earned the 100th victory for female pro drivers in NHRA history Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.) during the NHRA Kansas Nationals. It was her first win of the season and fourth of her career. She was the event No. 1 qualifier and defeated Dale Creasy Jr., Jeff Arend and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first three rounds before outrunning two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon in the final round to take the win. She drove her Traxxas Ford Mustang to a final round performance of 4.148 seconds at 306.46 mph to take the win.

She is one of 14 female racers who have won NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in the last 38 years, including seven in Top Fuel, four in Funny Car, three in Pro Stock Motorcycle and one in Pro Stock (Melanie Troxel won races in both Top Fuel and Funny Car). Three-time Top Fuel world champion Shirley Muldowney was the first driver to win an NHRA pro race, claiming the national event title at Columbus, Ohio in 1976. Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Angelle Sampey, also a three-time world champion, has earned the most victories among the 14 women, claiming 41 Wally trophies during her distinguished career. Women have won races in each of the four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. There have been 54 women who have competed in the NHRA Mello Yello Series, including 18 in Top Fuel, 14 in Funny Car, six in Pro Stock and 16 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.


COURTNEY FORCE QUOTES:
“It’s huge. You can see the emotions on my face after the loss in the final round last weekend. It’s a big deal. It’s a milestone for women, and every girl out here wanted to get it. Every girl put their heart out into it. I was crushed last weekend, because I thought that opportunity would never come around again. I’m still trying to soak it all in right now.”

“I was thinking about it. That was all that was running through my head. I was thinking about going to another final and thinking about what happened last weekend. That sucked and you don’t want that to happen again. I was telling myself to not lose my focus. Don’t think about the 100th win. So now I was already thinking about it. You try and not screw up. You try and clear your mind. You look at the fans and think I am in the greatest place on earth. I get to be at an NHRA track and I get to drive one of these hot rods and there are little girls coming up to my ropes to wish me luck."

“This is for all the girls out there in any type of sport, any motorsport. It’s an exciting day for us. It’s an honor to be No. 100 on a list of the legends like Shirley Muldowney, Angelle Sampey, Melanie Troxel, Erica Enders-Stevens, Shelly Payne, Ashley [Force Hood, sister], Alexis DeJoria, there are so many great names. My sister Brittany is so close. It’s an honor to be a part of it. We’ve hit 100, but there’s 100 more to go.”

“I almost screwed up on the starting line as a driver. I almost failed in my job. I was so nervous. The pressure was through the roof. I went up there, and all I could think about was how Cruz holeshotted Robert and that I didn’t want to do that in the biggest moment. There was a lot on the line. I wanted to roll in pretty deep on the pre-stage so my stage bulb will be nice and deep. I screwed up and lit both before he was even pre-staged. I thought, ‘Oh, my God. I’m about to screw this up for myself.’ I let off the clutch when he lit the pre-stage bulb. Luckily, I left when I was supposed to. I apologized to him. I sure as heck wasn’t trying to screw him up.”

“I’m so proud of my Traxxas Ford Mustang team. I have to thank all of my sponsors: Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Brand Source, and Mac Tools. When my dad and Robert went out, you could see all the colors from their teams coming over to help us out. My crew chiefs, Ron Douglas and Dan Hood, have given me a good, consistent hot rod all weekend.”

NHRA Mello Yello Series victories by female drivers:
1. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 13, 1976, Columbus, Ohio
2. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 10, 1976, Ontario, Calif.
3. Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 12, 1977, Columbus, Ohio
4. Muldowney, Top Fuel, July 16, 1977, Englishtown, N.J.
5. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Aug. 7, 1977, Montreal
6. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Feb. 3, 1980, Pomona, Calif.
7. Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 8, 1980, Columbus, Ohio
8. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Sept. 21, 1980, Seattle
9. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 19, 1980, Ontario, Calif.
10. Muldowney, Top Fuel, March 15, 1981, Gainesville, Fla.
11. Muldowney, Top Fuel, April 26, 1981, Atlanta
12. Muldowney, Top Fuel, March 14, 1982, Gainesville, Fla.
13. Lucille Lee, Top Fuel, April 25, 1982, Atlanta
14. Muldowney, Top Fuel, June 13, 1982, Columbus, Ohio
15. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Aug. 22, 1982, Brainerd, Minn.
16. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Sept. 6, 1982, Indianapolis
17. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Feb. 13, 1983, Pomona, Calif.
18. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 16, 1983, Irvine, Calif.
19. Muldowney, Top Fuel, Oct. 15, 1989, Phoenix
20. Lori Johns, Top Fuel, Feb. 4, 1990, Pomona, Calif.
21. Johns, Top Fuel, April 22, 1990, Atlanta
22. Johns, Top Fuel, May 6, 1990, Memphis
23. Johns, Top Fuel, May 5, 1991, Memphis
24. Shelly Anderson, Top Fuel, Sept. 19, 1993, Reading, Pa.
25. Anderson, Top Fuel, Feb. 6, 1994, Pomona, Calif.
26. Anderson, Top Fuel, May 5, 1996, Richmond, Va.
27. Anderson, Top Fuel, Aug. 4, 1996, Seattle
28. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 15, 1996, Reading, Pa.
29. Cristen Powell, Top Fuel, May 18, 1997, Englishtown, N.J.
30. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 28, 1997, Topeka, Kan.
31. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 17, 1998, Englishtown, N.J.
32. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 20, 1998, Reading, Pa.
33. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 11, 1998, Memphis
34. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 21, 1999, Gainesville, Fla.
35. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 16, 1999, Atlanta
36. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 25, 1999, Englishtown, N.J.
37. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 27, 1999, St. Louis
38. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 10, 1999, Memphis
39. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 9, 2000, Las Vegas
40. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 7, 2000, Atlanta
41. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 18, 2000, Columbus, Ohio
42. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 16, 2000, Denver
43. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 9, 2000, Englishtown, N.J.
44. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 25, 2001, Houston
45. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 17, 2001, Columbus, Ohio
46. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 8, 2001, Pomona, Calif.
47. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 22, 2001, Denver
48. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 3, 2001, Indianapolis
49. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 7, 2001, Reading, Pa.
50. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Nov. 11, 2001, Pomona, Calif.
51. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 5, 2002, Atlanta
52. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 2, 2002, Chicago
53. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 30, 2002, St. Louis
54. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 2, 2002, Indianapolis
55. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 16, 2002, Reading, Pa.
56. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 27, 2002, Las Vegas
57. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 16, 2003, Gainesville, Fla.
58. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 13, 2003, Houston
59. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 1, 2003, Chicago
60. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 18, 2004, Houston
61. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 16, 2004, Atlanta
62. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Aug. 1, 2004, Sonoma, Calif.
63. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 10, 2004, Reading, Pa.
64. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Nov. 14, 2004, Pomona, Calif.
65. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 10, 2005, Houston
66. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, June 26, 2005, St. Louis
67. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 18, 2005, Reading, Pa.
68. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, Feb. 12, 2006, Pomona, Calif.
69. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 19, 2006, Gainesville, Fla.
70. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 2, 2006, Houston
71. Troxel, Top Fuel, April 9, 2006, Las Vegas
72. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, May 21, 2006, Columbus, Ohio
73. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Oct. 1, 2006, Richmond, Va.
74. Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, March 18, 2007, Gainesville, Fla.
75. Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 1, 2007, Houston
76. Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, April 29, 2007, Atlanta
77. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel, May 6, 2007, St. Louis
78. Troxel, Top Fuel, Sept. 16, 2007, Memphis
79. Peggy Llewellyn, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Sept. 23, 2007, Dallas
80. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, April 27, 2008, Atlanta
81. Troxel, Funny Car, May 18, 2008, Bristol, Tenn.
82. Hillary Will, Top Fuel, June 1, 2008, Topeka, Kan.
83. Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car, March 29, 2009, Houston
84. Force Hood, Funny Car, Sept. 7, 2009, Indianapolis
85. Force Hood, Funny Car, Sept. 6, 2010, Indianapolis
86. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle, July 24, 2011, Denver
87. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, July 1, 2012, Chicago
88. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Aug. 5, 2012, Seattle
89. Courtney Force, Funny Car, Aug. 5, 2012, Seattle
90. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Aug. 19, 2012, Brainerd, Minn.
91. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Sept. 30, 2012, St. Louis
92. Force, Funny Car, Feb. 17, 2013, Pomona, Calif.
93. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Feb. 24, 2013, Phoenix
94. Force, Funny Car, June 23, 2013, Epping, N.H.
95. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, Sept. 29, 2013, St. Louis
96. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car, Feb. 23, 2014, Phoenix
97. DeJoria, Funny Car, March 30, 2014, Las Vegas
98. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, March 30, 2014, Las Vegas
99. Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock, April 27, 2014, Las Vegas
100. Courtney Force, Funny Car, May 25, 2014, Topeka


Women in NHRA Drag Racing, a brief history:
The following women (listed in alphabetical order by category) have competed in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel (18): Vivica Averstedt, Dannielle DePorter, Vicky Fanning, Gina Ferraro, Brittany Force, Rhonda Hartman-Smith, Lori Johns, Kim LaHaie, Lucille Lee, Shirley Muldowney, Shelly Payne (Anderson), Cristen Powell, Leah Pritchett, Sue Ransom, Joanne Reynolds, Rachelle Splatt,
Melanie Troxel, Hillary Will

Funny Car (14): Alexis DeJoria, Vicky Fanning, Courtney Force, Ashley Force Hood, Rodalyn Knox, Paula Martin, Shirley Muldowney, Paula Murphy, Cristen Powell, Leah Pritchett, Susie Spencer, Melanie Troxel, Della Woods, Carol Yenter

Pro Stock (6): Erica Enders-Stevens, Grace Howell, Judy Lilly, Lucinda McFarlin, Shay Nicols, Shirley Shahan

Pro Stock Motorcycle (16): Dawn Matthews Baugues, Connie Cohen, Vicki Farr, Lori Francis, Linda Jackson, Anne Hansen, Elvira Karlsson, Peggy Lewellyn, Dawn Minturn, Stephanie Reaves, Angelle Sampey, Angie Smith (McBride), Karen Stoffer, Katie Sullivan, Valerie Thompson, Holly Wallace

Female leaders in victories:
1. Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle 41 (first at Reading 1996, last at Houston 2007)
2. Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel 18 (first at Columbus 1976, last at Phoenix 1989)
3. Erica Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock 8 (first at Chicago 2012, last at Houston 2014)
4. Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle 6 (first at Houston 2004, last at Denver 2011)
5. Melanie Troxel, Top Fuel-Funny Car 5 (first at Pomona 1 2006, TF, last at Bristol 2008, FC)
6. Shelly Payne, Top Fuel 4 (first at Reading 1993, last at Seattle 1996)
    Lori Johns, Top Fuel 4 (first at Pomona 1 1990, last at Memphis 1991)
    Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car 4 (first at Atlanta 2008, last at Indianapolis 2010)
    Courtney Force, Funny Car 4 (first at Seattle 2012, last at Topeka 2014)
10. Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car 2 (first at Phoenix 2014, last at Las Vegas 1 2014)
11. Lucille Lee, Top Fuel 1 (Atlanta 1982)
Cristen Powell, Top Fuel 1 (Englishtown 1997)
Peggy Llewellyn, Pro Stock Motorcycle 1 (Dallas 2007)
Hillary Will, Top Fuel 1 (Topeka 2008)

Female pro series world champions:
Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel -- 3 (1977, 1980, 1982)
Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 3 (2000, 2001, 2002)