The REAL force behind John Force: wife Laurie receives Pat Garlits Award

(Photo courtesy John Force Racing)

They say behind every man is a good woman. Whoever came up with that saying could very easily have been thinking about Laurie Force, wife of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force.

Laurie Force, who has been by John’s side since the start of his four-plus decade racing career, was awarded the Pat Garlits Memorial Award by Mopar during a banquet last Friday at the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Gainesville, Florida.

Laurie is also mother to drag racing daughters Brittany and Courtney Force and Ashley Force Hood.

The award honors the late wife of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, who passed away in February 2014. Pat and Don had been married for nearly 61 years.

Laurie Force was honored for her dedication, passion and service to not only her husband’s and daughter’s teams, but also to drag racing as a whole.

“In the early days Laurie wrote my first contracts, mixed fuel and backed the race car up,” John Force said of his wife. “She was with me from the beginning and there is no doubt I would not be where I am today without the support and love of Laurie.”

Laurie Force is the third person to win the Pat Garlits Memorial Award. Barbara Hamilton, the first woman licensed to drive supercharged cars (in 1964), won the inaugural award in 2014.

Joan Gwynn, mother of former Top Fuel driver Darrell Gwynn and wife of 57 years to drag racing legend Jerry Gwynn, received the award in 2015 for her contributions to the sport, as well as her work with the Darrell Gwynn Foundation and the Drag Racing Association of Women (D.R.A.W.).

Check out this video, produced by Ashley Force Hood, and which includes interviews with Ashley, Brittany, Courtney and John Force.

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AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”