By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
There has been speculation since Dec. that Courtney Force would step away from her racing operation. She announced on Thursday that she is leaving her Advance Auto Parts Funny Car for her father’s racing team.
She leaves after seven seasons. Force departs as the winningest female NHRA Funny Car pilot.
The plan is to continue to be involved in NHRA drag racing by supporting her teammates. In addition, she will continue the off-the-track partnerships that she built as a racer.
“I will be stepping away from my driving duties, effective immediately,” she said. “This was a personal choice as I feel I’m ready to see what the next chapter in my life has in store for me, while spending more time with family,” she said. “I intend to remain involved in the industry I love and continue to work with a few select partners as I go forward in 2019.
“I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to have such a successful career at John Force Racing and the privilege of working with so many incredible people while racing against competitors, who pushed me to be a better driver.”
In her seven-year career, she made the Countdown to the Championship in six of those seven seasons. She also won 12 races and had 17 runner-ups in 167 races with 29 semifinal appearances.
Force won four races in 2018. Her final win came at the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park on June 10, 2018.
In her career, she had 28 No. 1 qualifiers. Of those 28 No. 1 qualifiers, she had 11 of those No. 1 qualifiers during the 2018 season. That was two shy of the season-best 13 by her father in 1996.
According to the John Force Racing press release, she had always dreamed about being a Funny Car pilot. She also dreamed about competing against her father, living legend John Force, who she was 13-16 in her career.
Force — who is married to Graham Rahal — is the second Force daughter to step away from the sport this decade. Ashley Force-Hood stepped away from the sport in 2011 after racing from 2007 through 2010.
When Force-Hood stepped away, she started a family with Danny Hood, who was a member of Force’s Advance Auto Parts as a crew chief or co-crew chief in recent years.
“I first have to thank my dad for encouraging me to live out my dream of being a Funny Car driver, while getting to compete against him and learn from the best,” she said. “I want to thank my family and my husband, Graham, for their support through the highs and lows and to my team for their undeniable will to win and for always keeping me motivated, confident, and safe in my race car.