New sponsor for Courtney Force, staff changes at JFR

Advance Auto Parts has replaced Traxxas as primary sponsor on Courtney Force’s Chevrolet Camaro, while team owner John Force has rehired key names from his team’s rich heritage – and attracted former rivals. Anne Proffit reports.

New sponsor for Courtney Force, staff changes at JFR
John Force
Courtney Force and family with Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car
John Force and Courtney Force
Courtney Force
Robert Hight, Courtney Force
Robert Hight
Funny Car winner Courtney Force
Robert Hight

Courtney Force, who has eight Funny Car victories to her name, finished sixth in this year’s NHRA Funny Car championship, scoring a win at the SpringNationals, as well as the nitro shootout named after her former sponsor Traxxas.

Advance Auto Parts’ commitment to Force follows a part-time return in 2016, including a trip to the winner’s circle with John Force in the first race of the Countdown to the Championship in Charlotte.

Courtney Force said: “I’ve had five amazing seasons with Traxxas and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity.

“I’m very excited for 2017 and the opportunity to grow with a new company; [Advance Auto Parts] is a leading aftermarket parts supplier and a perfect NHRA fit.”

One of John Force’s sons-in-law, Dan Hood, will be lead tuner on the AAP Camaro, and this tallies with Force’s emphasis on both family involvement in the sport, and his latest reassembly of a technical army.

Force, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion who took four victories this year to bring his total to 147, has another son-in-law, Robert Hight (2009 Funny Car champion) as president of John Force Racing, Hight’s wife Audra who does the books, daughter Ashley runs the production/entertainment side of John Force Racing, while her sisters Courtney and Brittany race Funny Car and Top Fuel, respectively.

Now several former team members are returning to John Force Racing, including John Medlen and Jimmy Prock. The former is noted for his technical expertise and innovative engineering solutions, while Prock’s talent for tuning a Funny Car played a key role in Force’s 16th title.

They will be joined by Chris Cunningham and much of the squad that had hitherto been working on Jack Beckman’s Dodge Charger for Force’s arch-rival Don Schumacher.

Force said he is looking firmly at the future of his company and race team, as he’s now 67 years old and is planning succession. That, in part is why he has family members on his team and is thinking about the future for his grandchildren. Recently his grandson Jacob asked whether he too was going to drive, and that comment struck a chord for Force.

“I’m putting the band back together,” Force said. “At my age I don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing, but I’m really excited about where NHRA is going and I want to focus on that and growing this sport.”

Beckman will continue with DSR and will, as he has done so often in the past, have an entirely new team with whom to integrate for the 2017 season.

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