Q and A with Ashley Force Like father, like daughter. Ashley Force made her NHRA POWERade Funny Car debut earlier this season, following in the tire tracks of her father, 14-time champion John Force. Ashley, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, qualified in each of the first two races of the season, which resumes next weekend in Gainesville, Fla. She met with the NASCAR media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this morning.
ASHLEY FORCE – Castrol GTX Ford Mustang – LAS VEGAS MUST BE A SPECIAL PLACE FOR YOU. YOU QUALIFIED FOR YOUR FUNNY CAR LICENSE HERE. “Vegas has a special meaning to me. We did a lot of testing here in the past year, to get into the Funny Car, and it’s actually where I finally got my license. It’s a great track and a fun town, of course. Actually, about a year and a half ago during our testing, Gary Scelzi, one of our competitors, took me over here to the NASCAR track because they were testing, and got to kind of see another side of motorsports. I’m glad to be back here. I’m on the wrong side of the road, I’m over in the wrong track, but I’m excited to see this place and how they do their thing.”
IS IT HARDER TO HANDLE A 330-MILE-PER-HOUR FUNNY CAR OR YOUR FATHER? “Depends on how much coffee he had that day. The good thing about a Funny Car is that it’s very consistent, and the team, they prepare me for it. With Dad, he’s a little off the wall, when he walks into the offices in the morning we kind of take a moment to see what mood he is in: Happy Day or Upset Dad, and then we all either run or work with him. It’s strange, because working with Dad is like working with a Funny Car. That’s the best way to describe him, he goes 300 miles an hour in his normal life – how he talks, how he acts, how runs around and makes decisions, and it’s up to the rest of us, like the team, to calm down all that power so we can all do our jobs.”
IS IT TRUE YOUR FATHER CAN SURF? “Yes. I’m going to warn people, when the episode comes out about our camping trip, I’m surprised that I’m even able to get up here and talk normally because I was traumatized Thursday night when we went camping and Dad brought out this long board surfboard that a fan had made for him. Went down to the beach and we have our friends there, and my little two-year-old niece, my Mom, the campfire and all the reality film crew filming. He goes down to the beach and skinny-dips into the ocean with the surfboard, and all of us were screaming and my niece was crying just because we were all yelling. The camera crew thought it was the funniest thing in the world and they put up spotlights, and all the campers around were, like, ‘Who’s in the water?’ And there was my Dad, without a tan at all. Thankfully, he was at a distance and he had that surfboard with him, and we all kind of hid in the bus. And then the producer of the show ran down and stole his bathing suit off the beach, so he was stuck in the water for a while. That’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to pick on Dad.”
THERE ARE DEBATES, SOMETIMES, THAT NASCAR RACES ARE TOO LONG. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY SOMEBODY MIGHT WANT TO BE INTERESTED IN A RACE THAT SEEMS SO SHORT? “The exciting thing about drag racing that I’ve known only because I grew up with it, so I played that part of being a fan way before I ever raced, is that you can involved in the sport, you don’t just sit in the stands and watch. You can down there, just like here, seeing all of pit row and the fans taking the pictures and meeting the drivers. In drag racing, as well, you can go down and meet the drivers and see the team tear down the car. My favorite thing when I bring new friends to the races is, ‘You have to stand behind the cars when they warm up.’ Once you’ve been to a drag race and smelled nitro, your eyes are pouring water and you can’t breathe. There’s a lot of ways to get involved in it, as well as getting to watch the race. And that’s the exciting part. A lot of kids that we get in drag racing is because they can get involved in the race-car simulators and different activities that they have at the track.”