Ashley Force Hood

Ashley shook up the drag racing world when the second child of multi-time NHRA champion John Force became the first of his daughters to drive a racecar on a full-time basis.

As she explains here, when you grow up at the drag strip, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion

(Gary Nastase photo)

I first fell in love with NHRA Drag Racing when I was probably about 7 years old. I was old enough to finally understand the basics of drag racing, and I would faithfully fill out the race ladders each weekend. It was like my homework on Sunday to keep track of how dad was doing. There were also a lot of doodles on the race ladders as well.

I loved traveling to the races and had a lot of close friends at the track. I played with a lot of children of racers including Stephen Densham, Erica Etchells and Samantha Dunn. On Saturday mornings our moms would take us to swim at the hotel pool and then it was off to the track for an afternoon of qualifying.

I loved getting to ride in our tow van though we always had to be very quiet when Austin Coil was in the car because mom told us he was "thinking." He must have wondered how John Force had such quiet girls!

I also enjoyed sitting up in the grandstands and betting quarters with other fans during each elimination run. I actually made some good money up there. Keeping track of those race ladders paid off!

I lived in John Force t-shirts and stretchy pants (I am a product of the '80s) and I always had clutch dust on my hands and face. This is what happens when there's a "flopper" in your pit. It's impossible to stay clean so we didn't even try.

(DRO file photo)

John Force may have had all girls, but we were definitely tomboys. We loved getting to tow back from the finish line on dad's lap in the funny car and we loved signing autographs for the fans even though we were stilling learning cursive. It was hard for our mom to make us understand that drawing on people's shirts with a Sharpie was only something we did AT THE TRACK -- not at school or home!

We also spent a lot of time collecting autographs from all the drivers. Every race weekend we would bring back another stack of signed hero cards. A lot of the drivers would laugh because we would wait in line and they would say "I just had dinner with you last night, why didn't you get the autograph then?" But the fun was definitely collecting them just like the rest of the fans. 

Drag racing is a very addictive sport. It's so exciting, and there is so much going on both on the track and back in the pits. The reason I fell in love with this sport is exactly why all the fans love it. I got to see the cars and drivers up close and personal, and then couldn't wait to watch those cars fly down the track when it was time to race.

When we won, my sisters and I would jump up and down screaming and we would be smiling for a week. When we lost, we would cry and sometimes sulk in the trailer for the rest of the night. It was very emotional for us. Since we were too little to race or work on the cars, we felt that we were the team's cheerleaders so we worked really hard at that.

And, of course, just like the fans, we also had a favorite driver to root on as well. You could say my little sisters and I were John Force's biggest fans ... and I'm pretty sure we still are!