Sixteen time NHRA Funny Car world champion John Force has always been a fiery, emotional competitor, but for the first time that I personally remember, emotions got the better of the likable driver, team owner and father when he stood on the starting line at the Auto Club NHRA Finals and watched as his daughter Brittany became only the second woman in the history of the sport to claim the Top Fuel world championship.
Joined by his wife Laurie and nearly all of the John Force Racing crew, John was simply overcome with pride as soon as his daughter’s win light came on at the end her second round match up with Richie Crampton. He knelt on the starting line and openly cried tears of joy as the team members and crew celebrated the culmination of Brittany’s historic title run. Having been a fan of John Force for as long as I can remember watching drag racing, never do I remember John walking away from an interview, whether it be after wins, losses, crashes or controversy. He’s been fired up and pissed off, but never at a loss for words until watching his daughter race her way into the annals of drag racing history.
Joining trailblazing pioneer and legend Shirley Muldowney, Brittany is now only the second female driver to claim the season title in the sport’s penultimate class. While the landscape of the sport has certainly evolved to be more than welcoming to ladies behind the wheel compared to Muldowney’s era, the world of NHRA drag racing is still a male-dominated sport, so Force’s win is assuredly relevant, though most of the talented female drivers will hardly discuss gender as a factor when it comes to their ability to get the job done. Joining the company of Muldowney in any respect, gender be damned, is something to be proud of, as Shirley will forever be known as one of the fiercest competitors the sport has ever known.
As John walked away from the interview, he left his wife and Brittany’s mother Laurie to do the interview. The matriarch of the Force family, who has done her share of interviews over the years, jumped in and took over, though her emotions were showing as well as she tried to find the words to sum up the moment. Congratulations to Brittany and her Monster Energy team with their awesome partners like Adavance Auto for earning the hard-fought victory and claiming the 2017 NHRA Top Fuel world championship.