John And Ashley Force Teleconference

Ashley Force, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car, is in first place in the standings going into this weekend?s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Ashley Force, who has reached the finals in each of the last two events, is the first woman in NHRA history to lead the Funny Car point standings. Her father, John Force, driver of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car, will be participating in his 500th NHRA event this weekend, and also has the opportunity to become the first professional drag racer to win 1,000 competitive rounds. (He is currently at 996.) John Force has won a record 125 events and 14 championships. Both Force drivers participated in an NHRA teleconference Tuesday afternoon.

JOHN FORCE ? Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car ? LESS THAN SIX MONTHS AFTER YOUR CRASH IN DALLAS, YOU?RE BACK IN THE CAR AND ON THE VERGE OF TWO MORE MILESTONES. ?It is satisfying. I just came from the gym here about an hour ago. I?m excited that my therapy and now work in the gym continues on a regular, daily basis. I?m still not back, what?s the percentage, I gave a quote the other day, 75 percent, 80, but I?m able to drive my race car A to B. I?m not the driver I was because I don?t have the strength yet, but I will a time when I continue now to build muscle because I have most of my motion back, and that?s what?s important. But I?m excited that I just got a second chance and I?m allowed to race. I?m out here with my children, with Ashley and watching her evolve as a driver, I?m very proud of her taking the points lead with the NHRA POWERade circuit. But she?s gonna have to fight to keep that lead. Because her dad, starting in Atlanta, I hope I can get back in the game. Ya?ll know I didn?t qualify at Vegas, it moved me down to eighth in the points, or I was eighth in the points, I stayed it. The dream is to win. The dream is to win more championships. Safety has become a big thing in our life. It?s what we do everyday as well, is try to win. To go after 500, hey, I got to show up, I guess I get it. One thousand, that?s something. I was never really much about records. If you think about them, they don?t seem to happen, but I?m excited that I?m just gonna get a chance to continue, to set those records. I like to do that in front of my children to show them the old man?s still got it. At least for a while.?

ASHLEY FORCE ? Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car ? HOW GRATIFYING IS IT TO KNOW THAT YOU?VE REACHED THE TOP OF THE STANDINGS AFTER JUST 26 RACES, QUICKER THAN YOUR FATHER AND FORMER POWERADE CHAMPIONS LIKE TONY AND CRUZ PEDREGON AND GARY SCELZI. ?It?s been a real exciting time for my team and I. They?re the same exact group that I started out with when I first moved into Funny Car. For us, too, we?ve come a long way. We knew at the beginning we struggled and we had ups-and-downs, but we got through that and now we finally have a very consistent car and [I?m} becoming a more consistent driver. We?ve just kind of gotten into the groove of things and it?s showing in that we?re able to keep going rounds each race. But we don?t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because we know that pack we?re competing against. You get thinking about these things and then you?re not thinking about what you need to be thinking about, which is racing, doing everything right with the car and in the car and trying to win. We?re really trying to stay focused on that but it?s tough because we?re all new at this and it?s an excited thing to be leading at the time. So, we just want to keep that lead.?

IN THE LAST TWO RACES, WHEN YOU?VE REACHED THE FINALS, IT LOOKED AS IF THE CAR HAS GOTTEN OUT OF THE GROOVE? ?It?s definitely all about experience. No one is going to climb into one of these cars and be perfect in it. It takes all the mistakes and getting out of the groove and hitting walls and crossing center lines to really realize the boundaries and realize what these cars a capable of. I know that I?ve come a long ways since last year, but I?m sure by next year, the more runs that I make, the more I seem to kind of get the hang of it. And I still have a long way to go, but it seems that the length of time that it takes for your mind to process what?s happening and for your body to react to it, that space is becoming smaller. Where before, when I first started, the car got out of the groove, in my mind you?re thinking, ?the car?s out of the groove, not what do I need to do? or whatever the process is. Where now, your body is already doing it before you mind is even realizing what?s happening. I think that?s the biggest part of it. With experience you know that whole ?I don?t know much about all stuff,? but I know that there?s times I have no memory at all of hitting my parachutes and shutting off my fuel, yet they?re always done at the end of the track. That?s just experience, where last year at this time, I was still really needing to remember when I would come through the lights at the end of the track, ?remember your parachutes, remember your fuel.? Soon your body just kind of naturally remembers those things for you. I?m getting to that point. I still have a long way to go, but it?s seeming to be a little easier that where I want to keep the car, I?m able to keep it at.?

WHAT ARE YOU DOING, IF ANYTHING, THROUGH SIMULATIONS TO IMPROVE YOUR REACTION TIME? ?I?ve really been working and talking a lot with my crew chief, Dean Antonelli, and the other drivers, with Dad and with Robert [Hight] and Mike Neff about reaction times. It?s seems the more experience I get driving the cars, I?m getting better getting from A to B on the track, but now my reactions I?m struggling with. I kind of gotten the same story from everyone ? ?you?re thinking about it.? When you first climbed into the car, you could care less what your reaction was, you wanted to get down the track and not hit anything. Where now, you?re getting the hang of that and now starting to think more competitively of wanting to cut the lights and not lose on holeshots. It seems like you?re adding, from what everyone tells me, adding more steps in mind. So, I think the more I can practice on my practice tree and Robert has actually given me some tape that he uses for focus. Just learning to train, just like you train yourself to do any kind of athletic skill. You need to train your eyes and your body to react to things that you normally wouldn?t react at. I?m not the type, some drivers are, but I?m not the type at the streetlight, as soon as the light?s green, tearin? off through the intersection. I?m the one that always worries about the guy who?s red lighting or who?s going through the red light who?s going to hit me. The only way really to practice that is on the track in testing and also on reaction trees and just when you?re going up to the line being the best you can be; that you?re awake, you?re alert, that you?re focused. That you?re not tired because you didn?t get enough sleep or you ate a big lunch or anything like that. You?re really feeling like an athlete and ready to compete the best you can. I?m working on all those things, but I have a long way to go. You try different things and you see what works for you and what doesn?t. I think every driver is different. I just kind of got to find my groove in it.?

CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THE ROAD COURSE IN UTAH LAST WEEK? ?Robert and Mike and I went to Salt Lake City at Miller Motorsports Park, there?s a Ford Racing course that we took part in. I?ve never done any kind of road course racing of any type; I?ve only done drag racing. I?ve only ever gone straight or wanted to go straight. This was a completely new experience for me and I was truthfully terrified. Robert and Mike, they were just jumping for joy. They could not wait to get on the track in those Mustangs and I was much more nervous. They instructors were real patient with me and they knew a ton about these cars and really taught me a whole other world of racing that I knew nothing about. I came out of it; I?m still not going to make any career changes in anyway. I still like my Funny Car and drag racing, but it was really interesting to see that as different as the two types of racing are, there are a lot of similarities. I think the biggest one I found that I can kind of relate and use in my world of racing is that you?re always kind of looking ahead. When you go into a corner, they taught us don?t be thinking of where you?re at now, be thinking of where you?re going in the next few turns. And that?s where you?re gonna kind of set up where you?re going to be. That?s the same thing with drag racing. You can?t be thinking just where you?re at right then on the track, because it?s only a five-second run. You?ve really got to be ahead of it and ready for whatever happens; the tire shakes, dropped cylinders. Be prepared to react to all that without having to think about. It was similar to when I first moved to Super Comp and it was all just new to me. I only had the experience of others to learn from, I didn?t have my own experience. It was a long couple of days; I was exhausted at the end of it. My body was sore; I was tired. Same as when I first went to Frank Hawley?s [drag racing school], but it was a lot of fun.?

JOHN FORCE, CONTINUED ? RACERS IN OTHER SERIES, WHEN THEY REACH MILESTONES, ALWAYS SEEM TO TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY STRUGGLED EARLY IN THEIR CAREERS. DO YOU HAVE ANY STORIES LIKE THAT? ?It?s funny. We?re working on a book right now. We?ve signed with a book company in New York. And to go back, some of the stuff that we wrote over the years that we kept, it almost makes you want to laugh, how we got here. How we struggled through. We didn?t really realize how pathetic we were as race car drivers ?till I heard Don Prudhomme and McEwen tell the stories of what I actually looked like when I raced, when I showed up at the race track. But we had no money, we hustled everything we could. It wasn?t about trying to win a race; it was trying to do something that we loved. Just to be a part of it. To say I did a burnout next to Prudhomme or Kenny Bernstein and was able to stage and go down the race track. How I survived Australia, when I look back, I?ve seen some of the videos now that have come. I should have lost my life there. Our safety equipment wasn?t good. Our cars, the parts were just junk that we put in them, but we were chasing a dream. I just wrote an article for National Dragster that will come out in a week, that we forget why we came to race because we really loved it. But I had all the struggles of no money, being locked out of the house. Laurie and I came home; they locked our cat inside our house. I kicked the door down to get her Persian cat because we couldn?t pay the rent. We went to Indy and the cops arrested me. They don?t care that your cat was in there, you can?t kick down doors. It was a lifestyle that we lived. It was funny that I never realized, until I started reading this book, how much my wife Laurie was a part of my whole history of racing. When I had met her, it was basically when I was starting. It goes back way before that, but nothing was even close to being professional. And what she brought to the plate, mixing the fuel, packing the parachutes, driving the truck through the night when we had a pickup truck and trailer and then writing the contracts for the sponsors. You get a real wake-up call on how you got here. Maybe I didn?t give you a real cute story, but there?s so much stuff that I?ve learned and it?s waking me up to the mistakes I made in life with my own family. And I?m getting a second chance here to really try to get it right the next 50 years. And about the sports that I love. The fight that we have every day, you go to the race track and it?s like ?I don?t want to go, it?s another meeting, it?s another PRO board, it?s another NHRA? and it?s like this stuff goes on and on. Nobody?s right but nobody?s wrong. They all have their reason. Yet, it?s a battle that you say, ?God, it?s not even fun? but then you get those few moments to see Ashley try to get that final round and that look on her face. And my daughter Brittany that made a run, like I said, she barely qualified for A/Fuel on Friday night. It was a late Friday night under the lights, nitro-methane coming out it. And she said, ?Dad, I?m scared? and I said ?Baby, you?ve got to be scared, if you?re not scared, you won?t respect it.? But watch her go down there in the dark and when I got to her, she had that big smile on her face like her mom and she drove that hotrod and she was just yelling that she did it, and she was still scared. But I felt that feeling that I felt 30 years ago, or maybe in the last 20 years, maybe in the last six months, my whole life kind of just took a mental thing for me like ?why am I doing this.? And the safety issue has become the reasons why. And I want to win and my sponsors get mad sometimes, ?all you talk about is safety, you forgot to think about winning,? oh no, I?m gonna get back to winning when my body?s right. I?m gonna get back where I can do the job. I put out enough bull-jive talk. I don?t want to say that I can go after a championship today, because I?m not physically fit to do it. I don?t have the strength to hold the clutch pedal down. All the things that I took for granted in my young years, I?m fighting to get that back, that strength. But I tell you the love of my family around me, Ashley carrying the ball for me, Robert. To know that our family is in this game, and let me tell you, it?s going to take four good race cars to win this championship, but I think I have three of the best on my side. They?re young, they?re inexperienced but they?ve got a lot of heart. I?m just watching Ashley evolve like Robert did and Mike Neff, he?s gonna step up to the plate here, any day. His car is going to break stride and win a race. I?m excited. New players are coming, Old Spice, sorry I rambled on, I got side tracked.?

YOU MENTIONED SAFETY A COUPLE OF TIMES. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS YOU?RE DOING NOW? ?From Eric?s crash, the first thing we did was, why did this happened? Why did he have head injuries only seen in helicopters and high-speed vibrations? It was a whole new thing that was taking place in our sport that we?ve seen over a period of time in the last four or five years, but we couldn?t really pin it down until Eric?s crash. So, we went after the roll cage and we went after the neck restraints. Our restraints were only made for impact, forward and backwards, there was no side-to-side. It was like, my God, Eric?s head had the damage from side-to-side. Catastrophic what took place, the doctor?s said, ?my God, what does this guy do?? They had only seen this in stuff, in military air force type, pilots that were injured through the vibration in the air. We talked about all that before, but out of that came the roll cage. And it was just a simple thing; we can?t put padding in there to protect the driver if we don?t widen the roll cage. Well, why did the roll cage get so narrow? If you look back, it?s because we streamlined the cars over the years. If we streamlined them, we made the bodies narrower, so we made the roll cages narrower. And we forgot about the driver?s safety. And that?s what we?re trying to get back to open our eyes. Out of that crash, that I crashed, then Ashley crashed it at Seattle, hit the wall a number of times. Robert crashed at Topeka, none of them had head injuries, they didn?t even have headaches. I know that big Jim Dunn, and I love him dearly, when his car crashed, hit the wall three times that he came back yelling at me, ?I don?t have a spare car. This is your fault.? Because we?re all trying to get new cars built. And I thought to myself, ?yeah, but you?re driver?s doing an interview.? And that was a terrible crash, nothing like Eric or mine, because ours was more harmonics than isolation but the impact of totaling a car, bending it in half, the guy walked away without a headache. So, that came out of that. And then of course, for my crash, we woke up again. The car broke in half and hung the driver?s legs and arms out. So, we went after that. We looked at F1. We hired people. We worked with NHRA. We worked with SFI, with Murph McKinney, the chassis, all the people that we created the Eric Medlen project, that we build and we continue every day. We put tubs in these cars. We?re out of pocket a lot, but it doesn?t matter. Every day I look at the safety of these cars that my children have in their A/Fuel cars, what we have in these Funny Cars, I feel like we?ve done everything we can for now, but the process continues. At Ford Motor Company, God bless them, it was their technicians and their laboratories that they put our cars in. They shipped them, they broke them, they sawed them up and they gave back to us how to build a stronger car. And the new six-wheeled car is probably seven times stronger. We may never know how much better this car is. But we know it?s cost efficient, it wasn?t that much more. It cost a lot to build it, but not hardly any for the other teams to order them. And they?re all ordering these cars now. Number two ? it?s 100 pounds heavier with the new safety rules, but guys are still there running and it?s mixed the pot up a little bit. A lot of the guys like Wilkerson and Jim Dunn and Gary Densham and Worsham, they always had heavy cars. So it?s put them right up in the ball game on winning races. In the big picture, the safety?s there. There?s been change, like the Car of Tomorrow with NASCAR, it?s a shame that we have to lose, give someone?s life to give us a wake-up call. So, so much change has come out it, the little black boxes that Ford?s put on all the cars on dragsters and Funny Cars at their expense, so we know what happens when they just have simple tire shake.?

WHICH GIVES YOU MORE PRIDE: YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO WIN 1,000 ROUNDS OR ASHLEY LEADING THE POINTS? ?Her leading the points. But I told her, I said, ?Baby, don?t get caught up in the points deal. They?ll take it away from you next week, and you?ll try to get it back, or maybe you?ll keep it a week or two. This is going to be a slugfest, is what it?s going to be. And you?re a woman in the middle of this. And that?s why I?m excited. I like to see Melanie Troxel go out there in the Funny Car because it kind of gives Ashley somebody to know that she ain?t all on her own. It?s not a man?s world. There?s two of these young gals fighting it out. But, it?s going to be tough. I know I?m supposed to be hyping records, I come in my building and I see all these trophies, and I want to win again, but none of it is no good to me if I can?t win again. But right now I?m excited the way Ashley has been learning, and I don?t mean just driving the race car. I stand behind it in the lights, her car, and I watch it and I watch it run after run, so many runs, hundreds of them, and I watch her go in the last couple of years and it?s like it?s out of the groove and it doesn?t come back. But now I?m starting to see it suck back into the groove. I worry about her body strength because I?m in the gym every day doing weights, I build my right arm for my push brake, I build my left hand to steer it with one hand. I?m doing a lot of exercises just to drive my race car. Heck, I have people come in and say, ?I?ve never seen anybody do that kind of an exercise.? Why? Because my trainer has taught me what I need to do in the gym to get certain things to handle my race car. You know, I?ve got a big old ego and I love the pat on the back ? what I want to do is I want to go to Atlanta and I want to win a drag race, even if it takes beating this girl ? you know what I?m saying? ? My own child. I want to get back in the game, I want to be a part of it; I love it. I can?t tell you how I love it. I was taken out for six months and it broke my heart when doctors said, ?You may never drive again.? I?m like, ?What are you saying here?? It gets a man. I want that feeling back. I want it to be fun. You know how you write some stories; it?s just another story? Some days you write a story and get all caught up in it? Well, that?s why I got caught up in the gym. The gym is my only chance of getting back, to be with my kid, to grow the technology, and to win again. So, I?m coming to Atlanta. I joked yesterday ? they said, ?Schumacher?s going after number 500. He?s coming after you.? And I love ol? Schu, and I told him, ?Well, he ain?t going to catch me until I drop dead, because I?m going to drive this old thing until I drop. So, that means I?m going to keep showing up at the races, as long as I can halfway do the job. Because I?m just falling in love with it all over again, and that?s why the politics are political. Some days I want to just puke. I want to get so mad at people, but you have to look at everybody. I saw a movie the other night called The Boxer and it was about Ireland and it was about the Catholics and the Protestants and they were all fighting each other and killing each other and burning their houses down, and yet they were all right. Both sides; the wives, the children, and I said, ?Why can?t they get it together?? And they?re still fighting. When I look at our lifestyle, it?s a continual battle. Maybe that?s what it takes to grow this sport. So, I?m just going to stay in the fight and suck it up, and have the good moments that I have when I see Ashley out there doing what her old man fell in love with his whole life, 30 years, and that she?s getting that opportunity and she?s got a dang good team behind her, and she ain?t too bad herself. She won?t blow her horn, but let me tell you, in two years, she ain?t doing too bad.?

ASHLEY FORCE, CONTINUED — WITH THE ATTENTION THAT DANICA PATRICK IS GETTING AFTER HER VICTORY, HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE IRONY THAT IT HAPPENED AHEAD OF YOU TAKING THE POINTS LEAD INTO ATLANTA? AND, WHAT KIND OF BUMP DO YOU THINK THAT WILL GIVE WOMEN IN RACING? ?I think it?s a really great time right now in all kinds of racing, that women, we?ve been involved in it for many years, but now we?re really starting to show and prove what we can do in it. And I think any for driver, male or female, it takes years to kind of get into the groove of things to succeed. So, it?s fun that I?m in a time when there?s so many women that are successful in it, and I?m very proud to be a part of that. Because there?s still people, and I don?t hear it very often, you know there?s people who wonder, can girls do it? This is a male-dominated sport. And it?s fortunate that I?m in the drag racing side of things. I think women are very much welcomed in drag racing. The fans are excited to have them. The male competitors are excited to have them. I don?t know if I could take the criticism and the things that Shirley Muldowney went through when she raced. I don?t know if I could?ve handled it through that. But thankfully we?ve come to a time where the men are happy to have the women there, they still want to beat them, but equally as much as the women want to take everyone else that they compete against. When I race, I don?t care if it?s a male or a female in the lane next to me, I just want to win that round and go on to the next round. And I feel that probably every driver feels the same way.?

JOHN FORCE, CONTINUED — WHEN YOU SEE THE TYPE OF CRASH THAT NASCAR DRIVER MICHAEL MCDOWELL HAD AT TEXAS, AND HOW HE BASICALLY WALKED AWAY WITHOUT A SCRATCH, DO YOU THINK ABOUT HOW FAR RACING SAFETY HAS COME? AND, HOW FORTUNATE DO YOU FEEL AS A DRIVER TO BE A PART OF THAT AND TRY TO MAKE IT SAFER? ?A lot of people, and I want to say this, that it looked like I was on a campaign that race cars were not safe. They kept me alive for 30 years ? on fire, rolling end over end. That isn?t what I was saying. It was time for change. The horsepower, the speeds that we?re running, NASCAR and IndyCar, F1, everywhere, you have to have change. And it?s sad that we?re so quick to get an ET slip that we just crash car and drag another one out and stuff our driver back in it. And when I lost Eric [Medlen], it was a heartbreak and it made me realize something?s got to change here. We?ve got to open our eyes and get our heads out of just trying to win. But win is what you sell a sponsor. Ford doesn?t want to hear, ?I want to build a better car, then I?m going to try to win.? They want it all at one time. And they understand the business. But when you look around, look back when [Ayrton Senna] was killed in F1, it took that to make a statement to make people go to work. It took Dale Earnhardt, he was old-school like me. I?ve got to be honest, it was one of you media people, I?m not going to embarrass you, but it was one of your media people that came to me and said, ?You?re as stubborn as Earnhardt.? Well, what are you talking about? ?You won?t wear a neck brace.? No, I don?t like a neck brace, I can?t turn my head, I can?t see the Christmas tree. ?Yeah. Isn?t it enough that we lost Earnhardt? But what?s making me mad at you is that you are showing your drivers that they don?t have to wear head restraints, and somebody?s going to get hurt.? And I said, well, that?s the way I am. So he said, ?That?s the way I am. I?m going to write a story about you that you ain?t going to like if you don?t get the neck restraint on. I went home, madder than hell, and ended up later, about a week later, I said, you know, he?s right. Because there is safety in it; that?s why they make it. And I put that restraint on and I made my other drivers and we all got used to it. And we?ve all grown from there. So I thank that guy. I don?t want to embarrass you, Jeff Wolf, but it was you that did that to me that made me so mad. Like, what does a media guy have the nerve to tell me to wear a head brace. But he did and he was totally right. So I thank you from that and we evolve from there now with multiple restraints to protect us because we haven?t even touched the iceberg, we haven?t even started to where we?re going in the future.?

ASHLEY FORCE, CONTINUED ? WOMEN IN NHRA HAVE HAD A FAIR AMOUNT OF SUCCESS OVER THE YEARS. DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON WHY WOMEN HAVE BEEN MORE SUCCESSFUL IN NHRA AS OPPOSED TO OTHER SERIES? ?I believe there?s just more opportunity in NHRA drag racing. There?s so many different categories, there?s so many different levels of categories that you don?t have to just jump into a professional team with big-time sponsorships. You can start with street cars. You can race Sportsmen, Super Comps, Comps. You can do that with your family on the weekends. I think that?s where a lot of the female, and male drivers came from ? they started in those lower ranks, junior drag racing, they offer that for kids seven to 16, I think. And that?s where that love of the sport starts. And then as you grow and you learn and the more you?re growing up in racing, as I did, and a lot of the other females in drag racing did, you move through the ranks and then you end up in the professional categories. So, I think that you?ll just see more and more women as the years go by. It?s just taken this amount of time to get all of us up into the professional ranks, but I know there are a lot of girls who are in the junior dragsters who they will show at the races, they?ll show pictures of the cars that have won races, that have just done amazing things and they?re eight, nine years old. It?s awesome. They?ll be the ones down the road that?ll be competing against us in the pro ranks. I really think that?s why. It?s just opportunity. And that the people involved in racing, sponsors, NHRA, the other competitors, they welcome the women, they want us there, and it makes us want to be a part of it.?

JOHN FORCE, CONTINUED ? ?There?s something I can add to that, and Ashley knows this because she has love for a lady that helped open ? there?s been a lot of women over the years that have been in the sport. But as I was coming up through the ranks, and I?m going back 25 years ago, a lady named Shirley Muldowney, you all know, they tried to shove her out. I was there. I watched it. And I watched her stand her ground and fight like nothing I?d ever seen in my life. And I?m telling you, she?d fistfight with anybody that tried to get in her way. You know the movie Heart Like a Wheel? And I ain?t trying to refer to the movie, but this woman was not taking ?No,? for an answer, and that?s what I tell Ashley. When the guys get on you and try to make it like you don?t belong, then stand up like Shirley. And let me tell you something: Shirley would punch it out with them. I was there. I saw it. That?s why I love her to this day.?

HAVE YOU EVER LOST TO A WOMAN IN A RACE? DOES IT FEEL ANY DIFFERENT? ?The only woman I ever raced was my daughter, I think. I don?t think I ever raced Shirley, not even in a match race. But I lost to Ashley, but, of course, she was my child, so I was excited to see her evolve and go to the next round. But, I tell you, I?ve seen a lot of drivers over the years, I won?t name names, but they used to say, ?He?s going to get beat. He?s got to race a woman.? A lot of men got mental over women. They just didn?t believe they could beat them. And I just turned that switch off. I wouldn?t want to know who?s over there. If I get a driver that?s a killer on the lights, I don?t want to know it. I want to play my game, drive A to B and do what I do. So, if I?m going to race against Melanie or Ashley or anybody, I?m just going to do what I always do. I just keep doing the same thing.?

ASHLEY FORCE, CONTINUED ? WITH WHAT?S BEEN SAID ABOUT WHAT SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY WENT THROUGH, IS IT BETTER THAT YOU DON?T HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL THE COLORFUL CHARACTERS FROM THE OLD DAYS? YOUR EXPERIENCES ARE GOING TO BE SO DIFFERENT. IS THAT GOOD OR BAD? ?I think, just as far as being a gal racing and having to go through that, there?s enough you?re focusing on already as far as just getting the car down the track, the craziness of the schedules you get at each track. I couldn?t imagine throwing in people not wanting me there and being vocal about it. On a personal level, I?m thankful that I?m able to go out ? I raced against Tim Wilkerson in the final last week and him and I just had a blast, going up next to each other, and I?m glad that that?s the situation that I?m at, just because of the type of person that I am. I like people to be happy with me. I don?t like when people don?t want me around, so I?m glad the group that I?m with ? especially the Funny Car class ? they seem real close. They?ve all been racing for many years, and I?m fortunate that I?ve grown up around them so I?ve known most of them since I was in diapers, a lot of them. The stories, though, that I remember from Dad racing against [Al] Hofmann, I remember, I?m sure, completely different than Dad, but I have great stories. I loved it. I loved the excitement, and the two of them against each other. It?s fun memories that I have, being young, when I first got into racing and loved being there, and I always remember the two of them. That was the big story from weekend to weekend.?

JOHN FORCE, CONTINUED ? ?We?ve lost so many people ? Pat Foster ? just a list lately, but Al Hofmann, he was something. I can remember when Ashley was like three, four years old, and how Hofmann came by the trailer, because he got mad at me, and I want to say this to Ashley, right now they all love you and you?re John Force?s little girl and a woman out there in a race car, but when it gets down to the crunch for this championship, a lot of the personalities are good people, but they?re going to fight the fight. And they?re going to use the head games, everything they can to beat you. That?s what it takes. And that?s what you?re going to see as you stay in this game. But Al Hofmann, I remember one day he was so mad he got out of the car and punched a hole in the side of my race car. I went over and said, ?Are you nuts?? And he was nuts, but he had that drive to win. I remember him looking at Ashley, sitting in the dirt, playing with her toys, and he goes, ?Hey, I heard that?s your kid.? And I said, ?That?s Ashley, Al.? And he goes, ?She?s too cute. I?d bet anything she?s not your kid.? Just always throwing the mud at me. That?s what he was. It was a fight from the beginning to the end. And, yet, later in years after he quit, I would get calls

Share Button