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Ladies, Take Your Corners!

Can Alexis DeJoria and Courtney Force save drag racing, or is it time for some real change? Once again, the post-Wally Parks National Hot Rod Association looks to John Force Racing to stem the NHRA’s downward spiral of the last four years.  

In one of the poorest kept secret sponsor announcements of recent years, John Force Racing will hold a good old fashioned media press conference today (Jan. 10, 2012) to announce daughter Courtney Force’s sponsor for her Fuel Coupe for the 2012 NHRA season:  Traxxas Radio Controlled Cars.

Force tipped his hand way back in October when he glowingly mentioned Traxxas in a post-run interview on the NHRA/ESPN2 show. Traxxas is certainly a perfect fit at JFR.  The few million dollars the company will spend with JFR will be spread over the lips of John and three youngish JFR drivers that ESPN always pays attention to. And what NHRA is banking on for the turnaround: throwing the “diversity” card during the 2012 Full Throttle season.  Get ready for the Alexis DeJoria–vs–Courtney Force Battle of the Women Drivers.  My betting money, going to Vegas, will be on DeJoria for the Auto Club Road to the Future – Rookie of the Year.

Although most of John’s drivers have won the Auto Club ROY trophy in their rookie year, this competition (Alexis DeJoria–vs–Courtney Force) will be a tough one, but the addition of the ultra-talented veteran Del Worsham and the wealth of nitro knowledge at Kalitta Racing will probably garner DeJoria multiple wins this year.  In an interview I had last year with Alexis, I found a solidly grounded, mature racer who has paid her dues... ready for prime time. 

Jeez, could you imagine if the upcoming Winternationals final round actually pitted Alexis DeJoria against Courtney Force? It would make the NHRA Media Department’s job so much easier and set the tone for the entire 2012 drag racing scene, ad nauseam.  By playing the “diversity woman” card, NHRA might even attract some of those stick and ball reporters who left drag racing the first time Kenny Bernstein “retired” with his Forever Red tour.

The much bigger problem for NHRA is a lack of interest from its hardcore fan base. If I heard it once, I heard it a couple of hundred times last season about NHRA’s Big Show. “Naw, I don’t go to the drags anymore. Are they racing this weekend?”
Even my own son, who used to shoot the Big Show for DRO, recently said that he’d stopped Tivoing NHRA’s shows over a year ago.