Courtney Force and Brittany Force both ended the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series seasons with highlights and career successes. The two daughters of legendary driver John Force both finished No. 6 in their respective Funny Car and Top Fuel categories. Each driver won races, led the points and was in contention for the NHRA Mello Yello Championship. They sat down recently to reflect on the 2016 season and to look ahead at 2017.
Looking back at 2016 what was your breakout moment or biggest success?
Courtney Force - “I would say our win in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout was big for our team. We won that event against seven of the top Funny Car teams that were the most competitive last season. To be able to get that win for our Traxxas team was a huge success and really showed that we had the car and the team to really compete with the top teams and go head to head. To know that you have a team capable of rising up for the moment really gets you motivated for future success.”
Brittany Force - “My breakout moment in the 2016 season was my first win at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL. I had been chasing that first win since my rookie season in 2013 and finally capturing that is something I will never forget. That day is one of the proudest moments in my career and was also JFRs first TF win and first ever double-up win with teammate Robert Hight.”
Talk about how well your team came together this past season….
CF - “We changed a lot of my team coming into 2016. Dan Hood and Ronnie Thompson were named my crew chiefs to run my car for the first time together. We brought Tim Fabrisi over from the Auto Club Funny Car team. The entire team really gelled together starting in testing and by the end of the season we were all working great together. We might not have won the championship but I think everyone on my team knows we have a great foundation to move forward into next season and beyond.”
BF - “I am so proud of the Monster Energy team and all our success this year. We made quite a few changes at the beginning of the year but this team learned to immediately adjust to it so well that we were able to bring our first win home just three races into our season.”
What has you most excited about the upcoming season with your team?
CF - “Coming off a season where we finished sixth in the points and to be honest we were No. 1 for four consecutive races, picked up a win early in Houston so we just need to get our routine down better and be more consistent. That is what we are going to push for in testing over the off-season. That gets us excited for next season because we have a great team, a fast car and now we have a better handle on the new Chevrolet Camaro body. We are going into next season all together and we don’t have to adjust much. We can roll into next season with some momentum and consistency.”
BF - “Looking into the 2017 NHRA season I am most excited to see how much our team will advance in comparison to previous years. I always set goals and push to improve each year and looking back on an impressive season I'm confident we will go further next season. We plan to win more races and go after that championship.”
Brittany, you picked up three wins how much more confidence do you take into 2017?
BF - “After earning that first win I am more confident in myself and my team that nothing is out of our reach. We will push harder and push for more because we all want that number 1 on the side of our car.”
Courtney, going into 2017 with the Camaro body do you think you will be even more successful?
CF - “I’m excited about starting the season with the new Camaro body. We didn’t get the new body until Chicago last year. I feel like once we got it we figured it out pretty quickly and we started making some fast progress. We were able to work with the rest of the JFR Funny Cars over the last part of the season but now we can have even more time to get even quicker and faster. To come out all together to start the Winternationals with the same body that we will be running the whole season is exciting.”
Fans are an important part of our sport. How exciting was it to see the growth in 2016?
BF - “Thank you to all my fans for always supporting me. Your words are more encouraging than you know and have pushed me to stay positive on tough days and stay pumped on great days! Your excitement brings and energy that I take with me each pass down the track.”
CF - “I think you have seen huge growth this season with the switch to Fox Sports. Really seeing all the big crowds that came out to the races this season and all the sold out events was great. When you see the fans in the stands and at the ropes in the pits you can tell that the sport is really growing. I am excited to be a part of that. I think all the positive messages from the fans at the races and on social media really pushed me and my team to work hard. It is great to have so much fan support because that is what keeps this whole team and sport rolling.”
Talk about your personal goals for 2017…..
CF - “My personal goal is to get into the Countdown to the Championship. Every year I say this, but I would love to win the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indy. That would be huge. Everyone’s dream is to go after that Mello Yello championship. I feel like we have a team over here that could really take that dream home.”
BF - “My goals for 2017 are to improve as a driver. I will push to improve my strength physically and mental in the car. I plan to improve in areas that I struggle with as a driver. I want to my finish this next season a step ahead of where I am now. As a team our goals are to win more races and go after that championship title.”
Photo credit Gary Nastase Photography for Brittany Force photo and Richard Shute/Auto Imagery for Courtney Force photo. For media use only.