Articulate and poised, the Yorba Linda, Calif., teenager already has been making sponsors Ford and All Pro Bumper to Bumper pleased with their investment in a New Generation of Force.
DRO: CAN YOU TRACE YOUR INTEREST IN DRIVING A RACE CAR?
AF: We grew up around racing. When I was little, it'd always be in our heads. Because Dad always said, "I want one of my kids in the seat." Then when I was in high school, I took auto (mechanics class) because I thought I'm going to be a crew member. So I went through that phase. But then I thought I don't think that's really going to work out. My dad said, "Why don't you ever think of driving?" For my (16th) birthday, they helped me go to Frank Hawley's adventure course. You don't get your license. It's just a two-day course. That's when I tried it. I liked it, and they sent me back to get my license a couple years later.
DRO: AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED TO GET YOU HERE?
AF: We'd talked about it for a few years, after I did the first course when I was 16. But I didn't know if we were going to end up doing anything. Then everything just happened. They were putting me in the car. I got my license. It was all fast so we could get going this year.
DRO: YOU STILL ATTEND COLLEGE, DON'T YOU?
AF: I'm at Cal State Fullerton. I'm in my sophomore year. I haven't declared my major yet, but I'll be doing communications.
DRO: WE KNOW YOUR DAD WAS GUNG-HO FOR YOU TO EMBRACE HIS WORLD OF NHRA DRAG RACING. HOW DOES YOUR MOM FEEL ABOUT YOUR NEW VENTURE?
AF: All the people around me are good coaches. I don't think she feels they're just throwing me into something that could hurt me. I think her biggest thing is that with my dad, his entire life is racing. All his friends are racing, and he wants me to be just like that. He's like, "You're going to love it! It's your whole life." My mom's like, "Well, I want you to love racing, but I want you to be balanced and have a life. I want you to have friends and go to school and not just be in one thing."
DRO: THE POSSIBILITY OF YOU BEING HURT BECAME ALL TOO REAL AT THE RECENT PHOENIX TEST SESSION. TO YOUR CREDIT, YOU STAYED RIGHT-SIDE UP. BUT YOUR CAR WANTED TO MISBEHAVE
AF: I'm glad it didn't. It was smoking the tires. I didn't know
what smoking the tires felt like. So it was my farthest pass I'd made.
It was only my third run. They kept saying, "If you're comfortable,
go a little farther." So that one I was going the whole track. And it
got really, really shaky. I just thought, "Oh, this must be normal."
So I kept my foot right on the throttle and went right into the cones.
I was shaken up, but at least I know when it's that shaky, that's not
normal. That's really smokin' the tires.
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