Volume IX, Issue 2, Page 49

The Rest of the Story

With the onslaught of the John Force–Ashley Force wall-to-wall coverage from both NHRA.com and ESPN2 and the coming-soon second season of “Driving Force” on the A&E network, it seems so many other stories about drag racing are being missed or, worse, ignored.

I can’t fault John or his finely tuned press machine; everybody over there is doing his or her job perfectly, absolutely no criticism from me. On Saturday afternoon NHRA allowed time for Force to make his mad dash back to the starting line after bumping his daughter, who was sitting on the line. Even that is excusable. Hey, what dad doesn’t need to roar back to the water box so he can provide moral support and motivation for his little girl?

But with the push to make “NITRO’S CHILD” a household phrase on the lips of every NHRA fan there were a lot of stories glossed over on the television during the dramatic battle of the Winternationals Saturday qualifying, the accomplishments and travails of other drivers (male and female) and teams. John Force evidently is NHRA drag racing, but surely he and his daughters aren’t the only story worthy of hyping this year.

The entire week leading up to the Winternationals contained every possible mention of Ashley at the expense of every driver except Tony Schumacher and Kenny Bernstein. Whether at media luncheons or media briefings, we got Ashley Force all the time while NHRA placated her dad. No doubt that Ashley is an important part of the future of NHRA drag racing, but in any media situation there is going to be a burnout factor (no pun intended). Until she actually accomplishes something as a professional class driver other than obtaining her nitro flopper license and qualifying for

the Winternationals maybe the NHRA and their PR staff could dial it back a bit. (Does the over-hyping of Danica Patrick by the Indy Racing League ring a bell?)

Ashley’s learned a ton from dad over the years; she’s pretty, got a great presence, media savvy, and a sense of humor but let’s don’t set the bar too high for her right away. When it all came to a head in Funny Car Eliminations on Sunday both Nitro’s Child and her dad got whupped in the first round. As the season rolls on we’ll see what legs this story has, but in the meantime there is more than one Ashley and more than one worthy story in the Nitro Funny Car ranks.

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