Brittany Force talks about brutal crash, TBA if she races this weekend in Phoenix


Will she or won’t she? Only Brittany Force knows for sure – and we should know Thursday or Friday whether she’ll race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals in suburban Phoenix.

The 31-year-old daughter of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force is still recovering from the worst crash of her own six-year drag racing career nearly two weeks ago in the season-opening race at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

Taking the green “go” light in the right-hand lane and in the first round of eliminations on Sunday, Feb. 11, Brittany’s Top Fuel dragster lost traction shortly after the start, made a hard left across the left lane in front of competitor Terry Haddock’s dragster (he was not involved in the crash) and the left side of her car slammed hard in a lateral crash with the concrete barrier.

Force’s car then shot back across back to the right-hand lane, spun, fell on its side, and then a brief fire ensued as the dragster came to rest wheels-up after sliding through the finish line.

She was taken to a local hospital with a concussion and severe bruising, was kept overnight for observation and more tests, and was released Monday, Feb. 12. She has been recuperating at her parents house in suburban Los Angeles ever since, but is reportedly still bruised and in pain.

The team said it will issue an update on whether Brittany will or won’t be able to race this weekend either Thursday or Friday. The key is how she is able to sit in her dragster, and whether doctors feel her still-bruised body can withstand the G-forces produced by the 11,000 horsepower dragster.

John Force Racing released a Q&A with Brittany late Wednesday afternoon. Here is the full interview:

How are you feeling and what has your recovery been like?

I got banged up pretty good but I’m getting better each day. I’m anxious to get back in my race car. I’ve been taking it easy and resting up at home. There’s not much else for me to do. It’s all just a matter of time.

Your family is very close knit, can you talk about the support you have gotten from them?

My family has been really supportive through this whole process. They were right there with me in the hospital. I’ve had a full house for the past week being checked up on by my parents, my sisters, my nephews, my niece, my friends and my boyfriend. My team has been calling and texting around the clock making sure I’m okay. Really, all the people close to me have been there for me.

Would like to say anything to your fans?

Thank you to all my fans and NHRA family for sending thoughts and prayers. I received all of your flowers and cards and I appreciate all your support on social media. I’m so blessed to be in a sport where fans are so loyal. Thank you again to the greatest fans on Earth.

Have you also heard from your competitors?

I’ve always said drag racing truly is the greatest sport. For the past week I’ve had so many of my competitors reach out to me as well. Thank you to all of them. I look forward to getting back out there with you.

Just an hour before making the run where you had the accident, you received your 2017 Top Fuel championship ring and jacket. What does that mean to you?

Honestly that whole day is kind of a blur. But standing on that stage at driver introductions and receiving my championship ring and jacket was something that I had been looking forward to. Seeing that championship ring only gives me and my team more motivation going into the rest of the season. It proves that we did it once and we’re going to fight to do it again.

What do you remember about that run?

I don’t remember any of the crash. The last thing I remember is staging the car. The next piece I remember is the Safety Safari helping me out of the car. I remember looking down at this mangled mess and thinking someone had wrecked. Then I realized the mess was my car. After that I remember bits and pieces but I do remember my whole family in the hospital with me. My first question was what happened. My next question was what about Terry Haddock in the lane next to me.

Have you watched the incident?

I watched part of the crash on my sister’s phone and it was much worse than I expected. My biggest concern is being trapped in the car while it’s on fire. So, after seeing in the video that the car tipped over and caught on fire, I made the decision not to watch it again until getting back in the car and making some runs. I don’t need those images in my head before making another pass.

After just escaping with minor injuries, talk about the safety of your dragster.

For how horrific that crash was, the fact that I came out of it just a little banged up is incredible. That just shows the safety that we put in these cars. I have to thank Don Schumacher Racing for the design of the canopy and thank you Simpson for all your gear that kept me safe.

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Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.