Last week in the MyRide parking lot we had a Dodge Viper. Its 600 horsepower engine made it one of the most powerful cars we’ve driven all year. NHRA Funny Car pro Ashley Force’s Castrol GTX Ford has 8,000 horsepower. If her car could theoretically maintain its top speed of 330 mph over an extended period of time, Ashley Force could make it from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just over an hour. That said, her actual races rarely last more than 4.9 seconds; take that Michael Phelps. Not only has Ashley become quite accomplished racing for her father’s team, John Force Racing, but she has also gained much attention off the drag strip after two seasons starring on A&E Network’s Driving Force. Last year AOL even crowned her the “Hottest Athlete in Sports” (and yes that list included Amanda Beard, Maria Sharapova, and Danica Patrick). With that, another MyRide With.
MyRide: What was your very first car, and what’s in your garage now?
Ashley Force: My first car, I actually still own it and am driving it around today. It’s a white 1999 Ford F-150 4x4. I’ve had it since I turned 16, that’s my truck I got from my parents, and I still have it to this day. I love it and it still works perfectly, and everyone else around me has gotten new cars since then. I also now actually drive a 2007 Ford Mustang GT, I kind of switch back between the two.
MyRide: What’s a memory of your first car you’ve never told anyone until today?
Ashley Force: I have a memory from back when I first got my truck. I was on the young side of my grade in high school, so everyone else was older than me and they were all able to drive a year before me. So I finally got my truck, and I remember that movie Varsity Blues came out, and me and the other cheerleaders (I was cheerleading at the time) and all the football players were going on the same night to see it. On our way up to the theater, I had a bunch of the girls in my truck with me, and we stopped in some fast food place to get dinner. When I backed up, I backed right up into this trash dumpster. It was my first accident, it wasn’t that bad at all, but I never really tell too many people that because, well, I’m a professional racer. It’s kind of a funny story now to look back at, because I thought my life had come to an end at that moment, and now I’ve had way bigger wrecks than that in my race car.
MyRide: What advice do you have for those looking to get into racing?
Ashley Force: Be around it, spend time around it, and know that the part you see on TV is the glamorous side of it, race day. There is this whole other world that it entails to be a race car driver, not just that glamorous part of it. It was a wake up call for me, and I’ve grown up around racing—my father’s raced my whole entire life. You need to be able to get up in front of big groups of people, you need to be able to speak on stage, you need to work on that end of it; it’s not just racing the car. It was a surprise to me, so I would assume it would be a surprise to people who think your job is just racing the car or race related things. There’s also a fun side to it as well, so I would just give advice to be around it and ask questions. The more time you spend around racing, the more time you get the real side of it, instead of just the glamorous side you see on ESPN2 on Sundays.
MyRide: What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement to date?
Ashley Force: The thing I’m proudest of is my first season in Funny Car; I’d already raced for six years, but it was just a whole different beast. It was just a real tough year, I felt like I wasn’t a good driver even though it was the learning process that everyone goes through. My dad went through that many, many years ago. I wasn’t around for it, so I felt that I was just not doing a good job because the people around me had done so well. It was tough to get over that and realize that you have to go through those struggles in order to get better. Fortunately, my team, we went through that struggle together; they were a new team, my crew chief it was his first year running a car, so we kind of went through that rough rookie season together—and we still did well. I mean I had some crashes, but I also got to the finals and did well in the points league, and made the Top 10 at the end of the year. To go through that and to not get too down on ourselves, and to be able to come back this year and do a lot better, it’s a big sigh of relief. I mean the learning curve is way better than it was last year, I don’t even think I’ve had any accidents this year, no big fires, or explosions, no big mess-ups. We’re currently #5 in the points, we were #1 for a couple months, and we’ve won a race. There were definitely some times when you think, “maybe I’m not cut out for this, this is real tough”, but you kind of keep going, and you look back and say, “now I see the reason for all that, it really did teach me a lot.”
MyRide: Are there any cars you have your eye on next?
Ashley Force: No, I really love my Mustang. It’s a convertible, and I wasn’t sure I would like it because I’ve only ever driven my truck. I was a little worried living in Southern California with the freeways and all the traffic, I thought I wasn’t going to like being lower to the ground and not feeling as protected, but I really have a lot of fun with it, especially with the convertible down. It’s just a fun car to drive, so I think for my next car I would stick with the Mustang for a while.
The MyRide Last Word
We asked Ashley Force if she had a preference for the new Chevrolet Camaro or the new Dodge Challenger; we then realized it was a pretty dumb question considering she is an obvious Ford girl. We’re most impressed with the nerve it takes to get behind the wheel of a Funny Car, and we were happy to hear that Ashley and John Force Racing are doing a lot behind the scenes to promote safe racing as well. Finally, if you want to see Ashley Force in action, tune in this weekend to the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the biggest and most prestigious drag race in the world. Best of luck Ashley, keep it locked on MyRide.
And for those of you that have never checked out Driving Force on A&E, here is an awesome trailer for the show:
By Elliot Darvick
Photos courtesy of Ford, John Force Racing
Video courtesy of YouTube<