06/03 2017


NHRA Funny Car racer Courtney Force was uninjured in a vicious engine explosion Friday during qualifying at Epping, N.H., for the New England Nationals.

Force covered the New England Dragway 1,000-foot course in 3.842 seconds at 331.63 mph in the opening session of qualifying, but the engine in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro exploded as she crossed the left-lane finish line. The body destroyed, the flaming car banged the guard wall.

“Our Advance Auto Parts team was on an incredible run. I believe we’re still No. 1 qualifier, so that makes things a lot more awesome. It was on a great run. As soon as I went to hit my parachutes, that’s when there was just a huge explosion in my lap, and I was just trying to get the car shut off. I mean, what more can you do at that point? I was driving a Chevy convertible,” Force said.

“I couldn’t really do anything but just try to get the car stopped. So I was on the brakes, just trying to slide it down the wall and just try and get out of the car as soon as I could. I could see the flames, but everything was pretty much gone at that point. So I was just happy to get out of the car and get away from it.

Force immediately popped out of the cockpit on her own power and raised her hands to indicate she was all right. However, she did go with the emergency medical personnel for evaluation. She was evaluated and released.

Force also is the tentative No. 1 qualifier with a track-record 3.842-second elapsed time. Her John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight set the track speed record at 336.74 mph.

“This is my first convertible that I did not ask for, and someone better have gotten a great picture. Otherwise it’s totally not going to be worth it,” she said. “That’s definitely my first big explosion. I’ve had my fair share of walls, but nothing like that. Not fun for sure, but I really feel for my guys right now, because they’re putting together an entire new car. Obviously, our car from today is toast.”

ISSUES CONTINUE – Force returned in the Q-2 session, and immediately following her burnout, the car turned right and nosed into the retaining wall. Preliminary reports indicate a steering issue.