Dani Ben-Ari,The Driving Range
2017 Top Fuel World champion Brittany Force will not have the chance to regain her title this year after her father, Sixteen-time Funny Car World Champion John Force, put the brakes on his racing team for the rest of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move is a major blow for Brittany, 32, who was looking forward to unseating current defending champ Steve Torrence after making a major run on the final pass in her Flav-R-Pac Top Fuel dragster to nab the Number 1 qualifying position for a second-straight race at the NHRA Arizona Nationals just before the pandemic hit the National Hot Rod Association like a ton of bricks at the end of February.
Brittany, who was expected to give Torrance a run for his money this year, finished the 2019 season finished third in the standings while setting NHRA national records for both time (3.623 seconds at Reading, Pa.), and speed (338.99 mph in Las Vegas). Time, however, has not been on her side in 2020.
Although the NHRA has resumed competition following four months of postponements and ever-changing scenarios, with a revamped Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule that restarted with two-consecutive races at the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, John Force and son-law Robert Hight ( president of the company) realized that financial burden caused by the delay has made it virtually impossible for them to honor current commitments to their sponsors: PEAK, Monster, Frank Tiegs owner of Flav-R-Pac, Auto Club, Chevrolet, and Montana Brand, Cornwell Tools, Parker Store, a well as pay salaries.
This, however, does not mean that the team (which also includes up-and-coming Top Fuel star Austin Prock) is not looking ahead to restarting their engines next year.
“We can’t fight now, we can’t race right now, but I made the decision to ‘live to fight another day, but with what I have, with what I have, with the help of my sponsors and my own personal money, I can maintain. I have to protect my family, my employees, my teams and my sponsors. What I built was a team that could win. All I have to do is get to next year,” according to a press release issued by John .
Note: despite the fact that 75% of NHRA personnel have been furloughed, the organization is srill planning to run 12 more events through Novemeber, including the NHRA Indy Nationals on Aug. 6-9 at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana.