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Is the fame that comes from driving as part of the John Force team something you wanted?

AFH: That is the challenging part for me. I’m really shy. I didn’t realize how shy I was, so it’s something I work on especially next to dad, who’s never had a shy moment in his entire life. I really look to Robert (Hight) and Mike (Neff), especially Robert because I always thought of him as a shy and quiet type, and I wondered how he was going to do when he jumps in the seat, and he’s done a great job. So, as long as he can do it, I can do it.

There are days where it’s a challenge, and there are days where it’s easy to just go out and meet with the fans and you’re not embarrassed by it. The best part for me is that I have a lot of kids who come up to the ropes, and it’s one thing to go out to a bunch of beer-guzzling men and talk to them while they’re chanting; that’s terrorizing. But usually I have a lot of kids and families. And that’s a lot of fun to go out and meet them and sign pictures for them. Because when I was a kid, I went around and got pictures of everyone. I had stacks of cards my mom would collect for me. We were at a race every weekend. So that makes my job more fun, easier, so I don’t have to be so shy about it, because most of these kids are shy too. It’s funny that their parents will be, ‘Get up there, don’t be shy, get a picture with her!’ And the kids are terrified, but I’m like, ‘I’m shy too. I understand what you’re going through.’

Do you feel like you’re treated any differently than Mike or Robert?

AFH: I don’t think so. I’m sure I am because I’m a female, but racing-wise, fortunately I’ve been very different from Shirley (Muldowney) and the things she went through in that I’ve never felt I was treated different on the track. Of course the guys will joke with me about things like makeup in a fun way, but never anything so I felt like I didn’t belong here, that I shouldn’t be here. So that’s another reason I wanted to get into Funny Cars, because I knew all the Funny Car drivers and they’ve all been great to me, taken me under their wing and accepted me.

So when people ask me if I’m ever going to move to NASCAR, you might as well ask me if I’m going to become a professional baseball player. It’s a totally different world! My main reason, though, is that the people I enjoy working with are here. And I would be a fish out of water over there, maybe not treated as equally, but here we’ve got a good group. They’re mostly over that whole ‘oh, we’ve got a girl’ phase, and we all just want to race.

Are you a hands-on driver? Do you have any interest in getting involved with the mechanical, or do you understand the mechanical aspects of what’s going on?

AFH: The basics. I like to come back and talk with my crew chief after runs. That’s probably what’s helped me the most, learning about the car so I can tell what happened inside the car on the run. And he’ll show me on the computer, and it always matches up. It helps him to know what I’m feeling when I can explain it, so we try to do that after each run, because every run there’s something different. A different sound, different feeling, different something. We can still learn from each round, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

Do you think your sisters are as interested in drag racing as you are?

AFH: Yeah! You know one of them is six years younger then me, the other one’s four years younger. A lot of people think, because I’m at the professional level, they say, ‘We don’t think your sisters are as serious about it’ because they compare them to me. Talking to Walt, six years ago, I was probably less interested in racing than they are. Didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. They at least are here; they’re racing events. I was still trying to be-bopping around. They’re trying to balance life, college and everything, but they both love the races and they love the A/Fuel car. They love Super Comp, but I told them, ‘Wait until you get an A/Fuel car. It’s just a really fun category.’ And working with Jerry and his wife Debbie, it’s like a big family. You really feel like part of a team. With Super Comp, you’d have one, maybe two guys and you really didn’t feel like a team, but with A/Fuel, just like Funny Car, you warm up in the pit, you tow up to the line, it’s the same routine. And sure enough, I tell them all the time not to rush it. People ask them all the time when they’re going to move up. I say I love my HRH. Funny Car is great, but if I had to stay in that, it’s fast. Fast enough, I mean 275! It’s not quite the level of craziness as when you move to pro, if they choose to.

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