Show of Force: Courtney trumps father John in inaugural New England NHRA race


One week after Father’s Day, Courtney Force proved that father doesn’t always know best.

In the first final round matchup with her father and legendary 15-time Funny Car champion John Force, Courtney celebrated her 25th birthday by winning the inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

Courtney’s Ford Mustang bested her father’s Mustang, 4.301 seconds at 261.67 mph to 4.367 seconds at 262.28 mph.

It was Courtney Force’s second win of 2013 and the third of her career. She defeated Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson and defending Funny Car champ Jack Beckman earlier Sunday en route to meeting her father for the deciding matchup.

In addition, she’s now 4-2 in all-time round wins against dear old dad, but Sunday was the first time they had ever met in the final round of an NHRA national event. It also allowed Courtney to avenge a first round loss to John last week at Bristol Dragway.

“I definitely told him I was going to get some revenge and we were able to do it. It was a lot of fun,” Courtney Force told “We got down there, and our car got in a little bit of trouble, but I had my foot on the throttle hoping he wouldn’t catch up. After the win, he came over and hugged me and congratulated me. We were both really excited, and it was great for our team.”

Courtney Force moved up to fourth in the series standings, while John Force is right behind in fifth place.

As for the other three pro classes in the 11th of 24 races in this season’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Spencer Massey won in Top Fuel, Allen Johnson in Pro Stock and John Hall in Pro Stock Motorcyle.

The NHRA now moves on to its third race in a grueling four-week period with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in suburban Chicago, June 27-30.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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