Keeping it in the Force family, Brittany Force is your overwhelming choice as RACER Rookie of the Year. She joins her father, John, who earned overall RACER of the Year and Drag Racer of the Year honors in the voting.
Unlike 16-time title-winner John and her sisters, Ashley and Courtney, who all built their NHRA pro careers in Funny Car, Brittany is heading in a different direction and learning her craft in Top Fuel dragsters.
Like her father, the TF rookie got off to a rough start in 2013, picked up speed as the season rolled on, and was at her best at the very end.
Through the first six races, Brittany Force won just one round of Top Fuel eliminations, over Doug Kalitta at Las Vegas.
“I struggled for a while there,” she admits. “I never thought I’d ever drive a Top Fuel car in the first place. I really thought I’d stay in A/Fuel forever, but I’ll try anything once. This is a lot harder, trust me. Most of the time, an A/Fuel car just goes right down the track, no problem. That’s not the way it is in Top Fuel.”
Force didn’t make it out of the second round in the regular season and missed the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, but she was a factor in those final six events. She made it to at least the second round in every Countdown event except one, and finished the season at Pomona with the first semifinal appearance of her TF career. That was soon followed in 2014 by a first final-round appearance, at Phoenix.
With a staggering 78 percent of your votes, Brittany lapped the rookie field. Nearest contender was Carloz Munoz, whose second-place finish on his Indy 500 debut earned him nine percent of the poll.
A word from your RACER Rookie of the Year, Brittany Force: “This is huge. I thought for sure Danica Patrick would win. She’s Danica Patrick. NASCAR’s fan base is so much larger than NHRA drag racing’s, but this just goes to show that we have the best fans.
“I struggled all year, then ended the season at Pomona with a career-best E.T. and my first semifinal ever. Reaction times are still the toughest part. You can practice all you want, but it’s completely different when someone’s in the next lane and you’re strapped in with a helmet on and the engine making all that noise behind you. I’m still learning, and I’ll be learning for a while.”
The RACER of the Year Hall of Fame
RACER Rookie of the Year
2006 Colin Braun
2007 Lewis Hamilton
2008 Joey Logano
2009 Ben Spies
2010 Ryan Dungey
2011 James Hinchcliffe
2012 Courtney Force
2013 Brittany Force
Once again, you cast your votes in record numbers for RACER of the Year XIX, and once again the full list of category winners not only reflects the excellence and diversity in our sport, but also confirms that racing’s most knowledgeable and passionate fans read RACER and RACER.com. There’s a lot more coverage of RACER of the Year XIX in the Spring issue of RACER magazine. To subscribe, CLICK HERE.
RACER of the Year XIX’s other winners: