UPDATED: BRITTANY FORCE RACING THIS WEEKEND
Ten days after a harrowing crash, NHRA Top Fuel champion Brittany Force depends on others to tell her what went wrong during the first round of eliminations at the NHRA Arizona Nationals outside of Phoenix, Az.
Force was racing Terry Haddock when her Monster Energy-sponsored dragster lost traction just shy of the 330-foot mark, spinning the tires and turning left. She was able to straighten the car just as the dragster crossed the centerline, but the momentum of the errant dragster carried into a solid side impact with the retaining wall.
The subsequent retaining wall strike spun the dragster around, propelling it through the 1000-foot mark backward. Force's dragster then spun around yet again and rolled over on its side, and then upright where it slid to a stop with a trail of burning fuel behind it.
To this date, she has watched only part of the incident, and for her, that small sampling was more than enough.
"I watched part of the crash on my sister’s phone and it was much worse than I expected," Force said. "My biggest concern is being trapped in the car while it’s on fire. So, after seeing in the video that the car tipped over and caught on fire, I made the decision not to watch it again until getting back in the car and making some runs. I don’t need those images in my head before making another pass."
Indeed, the monster which got her dad from here to Australia finally got her.
"I always felt it’s going to happen one of these days, just didn’t know when," Force said. "I don’t think you can really prepare for it; you know it could happen."
No matter how many times John Force, the 16-time Funny Car champion, tried to go through the complexities of what could go wrong in a split-second, his advice after-the-fact was simple.
"He's always told me to just get back in your race car," Force said. "I think it’s affecting both of us. We know it’s out there, we know it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen. I’ve seen him come back from his crashes. And you know, he’s right there supporting me and we just go from there."
As much as Force would like to prepare for racing this weekend, a scheduled Thursday fitting in a replacement dragster and how she feels will ultimately lead to the final decision.
"I definitely got beat up and; banged around a little bit, but considering how the car looked, I think I’m pretty lucky," Force said. "Just bumps and bruises. I feel good now. I feel pretty good, and yeah, just feeling better each day."
And even if she doesn't race this weekend, Force will be back to live her dream when she's fully healed. One crash will not deter her.
"I grew up in the sport; I grew up here at these race tracks. I’ve always loved it, especially the competitive side of it," Force said. "That’s my favorite part. On race day when you’re going rounds with your team, you’re turning on win lights, that’s the best part of it. And the fact that it’s drag racing. When you’re in that car, and you step on the gas, you step on that throttle pedal; you can’t compare it to anything else in the world."
"I’m ready. Mixed emotions obviously on it. But I’ll be ready when the time comes.."