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Force accepts 2008 Female Athlete of the Year award
Ashley Force
Ashley Force accepted the 2008 Female Athlete of the Year award from the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation (JMMF) at its 10th anniversary Tribute to Living Legends of Sports and Media awards dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Oct. 30.

Force, the 25-year-old NHRA Funny Car driver, was introduced by her father, 14-time Funny Car world champion John Force, and spoke emotionally about growing up in a racing family and her journey to the top of her profession.

"Being presented with the Jim Murray Foundation Female Athlete of the Year award means a lot to me and my team. Seeing all the people here at this event and hearing all the great things they have said about Jim Murray just shows me what a great writer and individual he was. The sports media is so important. I just want to continue to showcase all the positive sides of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing, and being presented with this award is just a great honor," said Force during her acceptance speech.

On April 27, 2008, at the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, Force earned her first NHRA Professional victory, defeating her father in the final and becoming the first woman to earn a Funny Car win. Prior to the historic win, Force also etched her name into the NHRA record books when she took the Funny Car points lead with a runner-up finish at the previous national event in Las Vegas.

Last year, Force won the prestigious Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, presented annually to the NHRA Professional rookie of the year after she became the first woman to reach a final in Funny Car competition.

Other honorees included 2008 Great Ones award recipient, Olympic gold medalist and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard; Sportswriter of the Year Award recipient, Los Angeles Times sports columnist Helene Elliott, the first woman to be inducted into the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame (2005); and Howard Bingham, a legendary sports photographer whose works have been published in magazines, books, and periodicals, including Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, People, Ebony, and TASCHEN.

JMMF was established in 1998 by McCoy-Murray. As of 2008, JMMF has awarded 63 journalism scholarships totaling $332,500.

The 2008 scholarship winners are Kyle Austin, Syracuse University; Kyle Goon, University of Maryland; Ryan Haney, Trinity College-Hartford; Alex Herbach, University of Southern California; Bill Oram, University of Montana; Michael Sanserino, Indiana University; and Mark Viera, Penn State University.

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