Courtney Force launches her Funny Car career in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series this weekend in the season-opening 52nd annual Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. She's following the path blazed by sister Ashley Force Hood, who drove for father John Force's team for four seasons with ground-breaking success.
Antron Brown was an Olympic prospect in the 100 meters in the mid-1990s, running a time at Mercer County (N.J.) Community College that would have qualified him for the 2000 trials. It also earned him a full scholarship to Long Island University.
In the department of little-known milestones, 2011 marks the sixtieth birthday of the National Hot Rod Association. Started by magazine editor Wally Parks in 1951 in California, the association organizes and promotes the sport of drag racing, which is looking pretty lively as it approaches senior citizen status.
1. Jimmie Johnson wins fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship. The careers of most of the Sprint Cup drivers younger than 35 will eventually be considered in context of the Jimmie Johnson era. Like baseball's Dead Ball Era, Johnson's dominance will influence the consideration of every achievement within it. And there's no telling when this epic NASCAR epoch will end. Not in 2010. Johnson withstood a challenge from Denny Hamlin, overtaking him for the title in the final race of the season in what might be both Johnson's and crew chief Chad Knaus' most masterful effort.
They quietly entered the darkened theater just as the music softened, filed into the back ash-faced and reverent. Race car drivers can be elite race car drivers only by compartmentalizing the nagging reality that their occupation can take their life, likely at a normally innocuous moment they would otherwise bemoan as boring.
On the day Danica Patrick claimed her historic victory at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan last month, Kristin Bumbera was half a world away. Bumbera was running at Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, just south of Austin. She finished 11th in the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 Race, part of the Camping World West series. She was the only woman running. She's used to that.
Melanie Troxel and Tommy Johnson Jr. are accomplished drag racers, multi-event winners in the NHRA's Powerade Series who are driving this season in the Funny Car division. They're also married to each other, which raises the possibility that husband and wife are going to square off somewhere, someday, and race down the quarter-mile.
Few drivers opened the Nextel Cup season with more clouds over their head than J.J. Yeley. After finishing 29th in points and garnering only three top-10s last year, Yeley's job at Joe Gibbs Racing was in serious jeopardy.