Courtney Force - National Hot Rod Association Funny Car driver - Santiago Canyon College
Courtney Force drives an 8,000-horsepower National Hot Rod Association Funny Car that regularly breaks the 300 mph mark. Classes at Santiago Canyon College didn't exactly prepare her for the four-second sprint down the 1,000-foot track, but Force said her studies at the community college and later at California State University, Fullerton prepared well for the part of the career where she's not strapped into a nitromethane burning rocket with wheels.
"Now that I have earned my bacherlor's degree in communications, I have been able to use what I have learned in college towards my career in many ways," Force said. "Earning my degree has really helped me to go out and build relationships with sponsors, communicate with fans and be a great representative for top companies. My degree has prepared me to be a great spokesperson for Ford Motor Company’s Driving Skills for Life and has allowed me the confidence to speak to students about safe driving. I am constantly speaking to audiences at national sales events, various student bodies across the U.S., and my sponsors, all while competing at over 24 National Event races. Earning my degree has helped me to learn the family business and start my career in NHRA Drag Racing Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car, and I'm so appreciative of the time spent at Santiago Canyon Community College.”
Force said she really enjoyed her time at Santiago Canyon College because it helped her get on the right track toward her career goals, while helping to prepare her for transferring to Cal State Fullerton. "I wanted to get a good education to help with learning the family business and this school provided me with all the right tools and advice that I needed," she said. "Santiago (Canyon College) is a great school to help students figure out their career goals with all the variety of classes that they offer. However, if you already know what you want to do as a career, they can help put you on the right track for a faster graduation.”
Force said she used the transfer and counseling services at Santiago Canyon College to stay on track and liked the convenience that a large schedule of classes offered her. The life of a drag racer is spent on the road for seven months of the year, but she found enough flexibility in the schedule, she said, to take and pass the classes she needed to graduate and transfer to Cal State Fullerton.
"Santiago Canyon College offered a lot of classes to help gear me towards my communications degree. They gave me the opportunity to schedule my classes around my job, which worked great for me because I had to be out of town almost every weekend to compete in NHRA national event races," Force said. "Community colleges are a smaller and close-knit environment. They have smaller classrooms which give you a closer connection with teachers and students and more accessibility to ask your teachers questions throughout the lecture. The professors were great with one-on-one time with students. Counselors at community colleges are always available when you need them and they really helped to guide me in the right path while mapping out all of the classes I needed to take to get me in the right position to transfer to Fullerton.”
A few short years after graduating with her bacherlor's Force won the 2012 Automobile Club of Southern California’s Road to the Future Award that identifies the National Hot Rod Association’s Rookie-of-the-Year.
In July of 2012, she won her first professional race in the Funny Car category in Seattle defeating 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the final. It was her 15th professional start and just her second final-round appearance.
Driving one of the world’s most powerful race cars, a hybrid Mustang capable of zero-to-315 mph acceleration in little more than four seconds, Courtney already has done something that her dad, 15-time champion John Force; her sister, two-time MAC Tools U.S. Nationals winner Ashley Force Hood; and her brother-in-law, 2009 NHRA Funny Car champ Robert Hight, never did – and that is win her first professional racing round.
Her professional preparation included a six-year apprenticeship in the Super Comp and Top Alcohol Dragster divisions followed by private tutoring in her big sister’s Drag Racing 101 class and a full season of testing last year in her own John Force Racing Ford Funny Car.
Finally racing against her father (whom she defeated in their first head-to-head meeting at Phoenix, Ariz.), and the rest of the Funny Car contingent is the realization of a lifelong dream for the former high school cheerleader, who the elder Force identified early-on as the daughter most likely to follow him into a family business that has produced 17 world championships in the last 23 seasons. John Force is a product of the California Community Colleges, as well. He's an alum of Cerritos College.
Now she is getting the opportunity under the watchful eye not only of her father, but of co-crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Dan Hood, who directed her to the semifinal round in just her second pro start.
Like sister Ashley, who first leapt to prominence outside the race car when she won AOL Sports’ inaugural “World’s Hottest Athlete” contest (2007), Courtney similarly sped into the spotlight after being named "Top Agent" in the Fiesta Movement, a Ford marketing program in which 100 "agents" drove Ford Fiestas and then shared their experiences on various national social media platforms.
On the track, she also mimicked her sister’s success by driving one of veteran Jerry Darien’s race cars to the Top Alcohol Dragster title at the 2009 Northwest Nationals at Seattle.
Courtney was one of the stars of "Driving Force," the real-life TV series that aired for two seasons on A&E Network. Most recently, she was second among auto racing drivers in ESPN’s NEXT poll, which seeks to identify the "next big things" in all the major sports.
"This is what I'vealways dreamed of," Force said. "To have my sister Ashley and my dad teach me makes it that much better. I also have great teammates in Robert and Mike to lean on and get insight from. I’m just going to learn all I can and see where it takes me. I’m just excited to finally be able to race a Funny Car. I always dreamed of going 300 mph and it’s just awesome to be finally out here racing."
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