Force family ready to compete on Father’s Day in Bristol

Photo: John Force Racing
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Father’s Day weekend is always a special occasion for John Force and his family, perhaps most notably because it involves the family competing together on the same weekend, and sometimes against each other. John Force Racing features 16-time Funny Car champion John Force competing against his youngest daughter, Courtney, in the Funny Car division. John’s middle daughter, Brittany, is also an NHRA star in her own right, but as a Top Fuel competitor, she does not compete against her father.

Of course, given that Courtney is often in direct competition with her father in the Funny Car division, there is a peculiar dynamic that exists within the team.

“Being able to race against my dad on Father’s Day weekend is something that I really look forward to. Hopefully, we can give him Sunday off – that’s always the goal coming out to Bristol, to give dad the day off for Father’s Day. We’ll see what we can do,” Courtney quipped.

Of course, she is obviously joking, as the youngest of Force’s daughters relishes the chance to compete against her father, and enjoys the fun atmosphere it creates, an atmosphere that is especially noteworthy as Father’s Day approaches.

“Honestly, he’s taught me everything I know in a Funny Car, and I have fun when I’m in the lane next to him competing against him,” Courtney added. “I try to mess with him, but literally nothing breaks that guy down. I can’t screw him up, even if I try. We have fun with it.”

Brittany, the middle of John Force’s daughters, who competes in the Top Fuel division, does not compete against her father, but that not have make Father’s Day weekend any less poignant.

She highlighted that Father’s Day weekend is always special for the Force family, particularly in that they’re usually competing at the Bristol Dragway, one of her favorite tracks.

“Racing in Bristol on Father’s Day is always special,” said Brittany. “It always happens to land on that weekend, and Courtney and I do the Track Walk with our dad, which is something fun before race day.”

She added, “Bristol is one of my favorite race tracks – Thunder Valley. It’s a Bruton Smith track, and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a race that I want to win, it’s a race I will win one of these days. I’d love to do it this year on Father’s Day.”

Heading into the weekend, Brittany ranks sixth in the Top Fuel standings, while Courtney sits fourth in the Funny Car standings, ahead of John in seventh.

John, meanwhile, looks to overcome a recent run of challenges and inconsistency.

“In my early days, I spent a lot of Father’s Days on the road,” John Force said. “Couldn’t get home to them, and I didn’t have the money – I was driving the 18-wheeler. To be with kids that I’ve missed so much and to race with them, life’s good for me.

“I’m getting beat up on that race track. But they beat me up 40 years ago and then I beat them up. They beat me up the first 10 years, and I dominated for 20, and now I’m getting my butt kicked. That’s what makes it exciting.”

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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
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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.”