A victory on my birthday weekend
After getting beaten by my dad the previous weekend in Bristol, Tenn., on Father's Day, I was eager to get back out to the racetrack for a little revenge! My dad's win was great for the John Force Racing team, but he passed me in NHRA drag racing points. As a Father's Day present, my plan was to give my dad the day off, but clearly he had a better gift in mind for himself ... a Wally.
We celebrated together in the winner's circle at Bristol, but I made sure he knew I would be after him the next weekend. On the way to the race in Epping, N.H., I stopped at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., where I got to showcase my Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car for the employees, along with drivers Antron Brown and Allen Johnson. It was so exciting to be on "campus." The place is literally like the Disneyland of sports, it's awesome! We met with different employees and some of their families, signed autographs, took pictures, spoke with some media and even got to be on "SportsCenter" to discuss NHRA. As luck would have it, we picked the same day Darius Rucker was there for a performance.
From ESPN, we headed to the newly added racetrack on our circuit, New England Dragway. I was excited because I felt that all drivers were really on the same playing field because none of us had raced on this track before.
We picked up some points during qualifying and were set in the No. 3 spot going into race day on Sunday. I took a look at the race ladder and realized that, if the day went like I hoped for my birthday weekend, I would meet my dad in the final round. And, that's exactly what happened. Our Traxxas team made it all the way to the final round after defeating Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson and reigning champion Jack Beckman. My toughest matchup would definitely be my dad in the final.
I pulled up to the starting line, did my burnout alongside my dad, backed the car up and got ready to stage. It was nice to know one of us, no matter what, would be celebrating in the winner's circle. I pre-staged my car first, then Dad, and I decided not to play any games on him this time. Apparently, Dad had a different plan. I staged my car like normal, but Dad rolled his car in deep and had a killer light on me. That didn't stop our car from outrunning him. We both spun the tires down track right before the finish line at about the same time. Dad made the choice to try to pedal the car in hopes it would hook back up and fly, but I chose to just stay in the throttle. This seemed to be the right choice because my car stayed hooked up until I got to the finish line, with my dad out my window. Not letting up as the win light came on for my third NHRA national event win of my Funny Car career! I guess birthday wishes really do come true!
It was a close race again, but our team was able to get the job done, and my dad and I both moved up a little further in points! I'm currently fourth and Dad fifth. This was a huge win for our team and a big step forward.
When we pulled our cars off the racetrack and hopped out, it felt like one of those surreal moments out of a movie. My helmet was still on, and my dad ran over to hug me and try to tell me something, but the cheers and excitement around me was drowning out it out while I was being pulled away to do my interview for the ESPN cameras. I got my helmet off and hurried back to him. He congratulated me and reminded me to list all of my sponsors during my interview.
He's one of the toughest racers out here to beat, but at the end of the day, he's still just a dad, racing his daughter at 300 mph and trying to teach me the business.