Visit to wine country

Courtesy of Courtney Force

Courtney Force and her sisters enjoyed a day away from the track wine tasting.

Ever since I was a little kid, summertime meant that it was time to travel out to the races for the Western Swing. I looked forward to it every year, back-to-back races at Denver, Sonoma and Seattle, and getting to watch my dad compete in the Funny Car category. It’s pretty crazy that I’m now out on the Western Swing in my very own Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car competing against the same guys I grew up watching, including my dad.

My sisters and I decided to come up early to the Sonoma, Calif., race and actually see a little bit of wine country. We all went wine tasting together to a few different wineries in Sonoma and had an amazing time. Now that I've been on the road racing and Ashley has been raising her son, Jacob John Hood, it's been a lot harder to get time with my sisters. Luckily, Ashley's husband Dan agreed to watch the baby while we had a girls day out and taste the wines from Sonoma. The wineries were so beautiful so it really was a great experience to share with them before I had to change gears and get ready to compete at The Raceway at Sonoma.

The day before qualifying began, my sisters and I took part in the annual Eric Medlen Charity Dinner for our teammate who passed away during a testing accident in 2007. We participated in a Q&A at the event along with some other drivers to help benefit the Speedway Children’s Charities in Eric Medlen's name. It was great getting to be with my sisters and some other drivers, and be able to tell stories of our friend Eric, and doing it for a good cause.

When the race weekend in Sonoma began, our team was off to a great start. I ran my career best elapsed time (E.T.) of 4.08 seconds and then followed it up the very next pass with an event better career-best -- 4.05 seconds at 312 mph. It was awesome to achieve two career best times for me in the same day.

On race day, we matched up against the current world champion in Funny Car, Matt Hagan. Unfortunately we lost, but we had nothing to hang our heads about. Our Traxxas Ford Mustang was on a roll and running good numbers all weekend, so it was definitely a bummer to go out in the first round, but not the end of the world for us. It was a tough weekend, but can't be too hard on myself because I feel confident about how our car is running for next weekend in Seattle.

In between Sonoma and Seattle, my family and I are going to take a few days to relax and hang out in Lake Tahoe, Nev., so we can regroup and get our minds straight for the next race! Seattle is the track that I earned my first ever National event win while I was competing in the Top Alcohol Dragster category. I'm definitely looking forward to returning to a track where I'm comfortable and excited to wrap up the Western Swing. My crew chief told me that the worst thing to do is dwell on a round loss. You just have to suck it up and move on to the next race. I can't be too hard on myself, I just need to remind myself that this is my rookie season and our team has definitely done better than expected the first year out. Even after a tough weekend, we still are pretty solid in the top 10!