Every year since 1998, ESPN The Magazine has recognized an elite group of emerging athletes to watch in the year ahead — athletes they call NEXT. They are competitors not only on the cusp of stardom, but on the verge of transcending their sports. NEXT is what happens when the hype is real. This year John Force Racing driver Courtney Force is in the motorsports group going head to head with Darrell Wallace Jr. (NASCAR), Chase Elliot (NASCAR), Ryan Truex (NASCAR) and Josef Newgarden (Indy Car) as the NEXT big driver in motorsports.
“This is really a big honor. I honestly didn’t know I was being considered as one of the NEXT athletes. I am really excited about my future and getting on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series full time,” said Force, winner of the 2009 Seattle NHRA national event in the Top Alcohol Dragster category.
“The chance to race with my father, John Force, is exciting but I also want to chart my own path. Ashley (older sister Ashley Force Hood) has been a big help and she has been a great person to lean on and get good advice. I want to make my current fans proud to be my fans and I want to try and introduce a new audience to NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing. It is a great sport and I am looking forward to having a long racing career.”
Force has spent the 2011 season testing her BrandSource Ford Mustang Funny Car with plans to race full-time on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in 2012. An official announcement about Courtney’s future has not been made by John Force Racing. She began her racing career in the Super Comp ranks in 2006 and has steadily moved up through the ranks following a similar career path as her older sister Ashley Force Hood, who is a four-time Funny Car national event winner including back to back Mac Tools US Nationals titles in 2009 and 2010.
Voting for the NEXT athlete competition ends December 18, 2011. Fans can vote online at http://espn.go.com/espn/next2012/story/_/id/7303218/courtney-force-chase-elliott-espn-mag-next-issue