Courtney Force comfortable in her own skin
Courtney Force took a year to think about it before saying yes. The 25-year-old NHRA Funny Car driver is the only auto racer in the Body Issue of ESPN The Magazine, which hits newsstands July 12.
Force is one of 21 athletes who posed nude for the issue.
"I definitely was nervous about it, and I still am," Force said. "But I think it's a way to show how hard we train as race car drivers and how much we work out. And I wanted to show it's OK to embrace your body. I'm not perfect, but I do what I can to make my body strong to be the best I can be in the sport."
Force was asked to pose for the issue in 2012 before she became the NHRA rookie of the year.
"I turned it down because I wanted to focus on drag racing," she said. "It was my rookie year, and I wanted to establish myself as much as I could before bringing all that type of media attention. I wanted to get media attention just based on my driving and nothing else."
Force felt differently this year.
"It is a big deal and a real honor to be asked," Force said. "I put a lot of thought into it before stepping out of my comfort zone. I wanted to make sure everyone in my family was OK with it before going forward."
Her legendary father, 15-time NHRA champion John Force, would have looked a little hypocritical had he disapproved. He posed his dilapidated body in the issue two years ago, showing many of his scars from racing accidents over the years.
"Courtney didn't tell me for a long time," John said. "She wouldn't let me see the photos. She said, 'I know you don't want to see me like this.' She's a good Catholic girl, like her mom, so she struggled with it. But when her mother [Laurie Force] gave her the OK, Courtney was good to go."
Courtney won the NHRA event at Epping, N.H., last weekend, beating her dad in the final round. The 2013 Body Issue athletes were announced two days later.
"It kind of worked out perfect with winning on Sunday," she said. "I ended up telling my team at the race and giving them a heads-up."