John Force wears teacher hat with Courtney

May, 12, 2011

Many a father has seen a child follow him into the family business of racing, passing along as much information and knowledge as possible to the next generation.

But no one does it quite like John Force. The NHRA legend is preparing his youngest daughter, 22-year-old Courtney Force, to join him in the Funny Car ranks in 2012.

Some of his lessons have very little to do with learning how to drive an 8,000-horsepower hot rod.

One recent instructive moment (during the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Baytown, Texas) came when he made Courtney listen to an old Johnny Cash song that most people her age never have heard -- "A Boy Named Sue."

John: "You are going to listen to this song."

Courtney: "Dad, I don't even like Elvis."

John: "First, don't ever say that in my presence. And it ain't Elvis. Listen and you'll learn something."

Courtney rolled her eyes and listened to the song.

John: "So, whatcha think?"

Courtney: "It was the dumbest thing I ever heard."

John: "But did you listen to the story? It's about getting tough or die. That's what I do with you. It's called tough love."

Courtney rolled her eyes again and walked away. John shook his head.

"These kids on my team think they know what I know, but they don't," John said. "Courtney already thinks she knows everything."

Courtney raced two seasons in the Top Alcohol Dragster class while attending Cal State Fullerton, where she earned a degree in communications. She won the TAD event at Seattle in 2009.

Ashley Force Hood, Courtney's big sister and an accomplished Funny Car driver, is helping Courtney learn the ropes. Hood is taking this season off because she and her husband, Danny Hood, are expecting their first child this summer.

Courtney travels to every NHRA event with John Force Racing and usually has a test session at the track on the Monday after the event.

John said she is overly anxious to get going in Funny Car.

"She keeps asking me when I'm going to let her drive [in competition]," John said. "So I ask her some questions:

"Do you study your drivers? Do you carry notes on them? Do you know how they stage and how they change their routines? I know the guys that want to play head games. I study them on every pass. I know their crew chiefs. Do you?"

And that ended the unusual lesson. Ashley has warned her sister that there are many more to come.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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