Ashley Force Hood says she's pregnant, will miss NHRA drag-racing season
Ashley Force Hood, daughter of funny car legend John Force and herself one of drag racing's most popular drivers, said Tuesday she's pregnant and will miss this year's NHRA season.
Force Hood, 28, is married to Dan Hood, a crew member for the three-car team of John Force Racing, and she said they're expecting their first child at the end of the summer.
Her announcement was one of several made at a news conference at the team's Yorba Linda headquarters. The team also said Robert Hight -- Force's son-in-law and the team's other driver besides Force and Force Hood -- succeeded Force as president of John Force Racing.
Hight won the funny car championship in the National Hot Rod Assn.'s premier Full Throttle Series in 2009. Last year, Force won an unprecedented 15th funny car title at age 61 after recovering from serious injuries sustained in a racing crash in 2007.
In light of that accident, Force said he'd been giving increasing thought to turning over the management reins to Hight, 41. Hight's wife and Force's daughter Adria also is an executive at the team.
"If anything goes wrong, who's going to run the team?" Force said. "Robert knows the business. He's running it now."
Force also named Mike Neff to replace Force Hood in the driver's seat this season. Neff had driven a fourth funny car for the team until last year, when the weak economy prompted the team to park Neff's car. Neff had remained with the team as a key crew member.
The team also said Force Hood would run its John Force Entertainment division, which hopes to develop a new television reality show along with a written John Force biography that could lead to a feature-length film, among other projects.
Force and his family previously starred in a reality show, "Driving Force," in 2006-07 but it was halted after the death of team driver Eric Medlen in early 2007 from injuries in a practice crash.
Force Hood said a new series probably would focus on another of Force's daughters, Courtney Force, 22, who currently races in the NHRA's second-level series but is being groomed to drive in the Full Throttle Series next year.
The NHRA, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, opens its season with the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona from Feb. 24-27.
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: NHRA drag racer Ashley Force Hood gets ready for a practice run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 31, 2009. Credit: Isaac Brekken for The Times