Force and Enders Look to Continue Women's Winning Ways at zMAX Dragway
Earlier in the season, Courtney Force and Erica Enders made history. Enders became the first woman in NHRA history to win in Pro Stock at Chicago, and together they became the first two women to share the winner’s circle at Seattle. They both join an elite sorority of female NHRA winners. Only 11 other women have graced the podium in the top echelons of drag racing.
The NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship begins at zMAX Dragway, Sept. 14-16, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. In the past two seasons, in the Pro Mod division, Leah Pruett and Melanie Troxel have already achieved victory at the Bellagio of drag strips during the fall race and Enders and Ashley Force Hood have each reached the final round, so the stage is set for more success.
Courtney Force is only the third woman to win an NHRA Funny Car race, after her sister, Force Hood and Troxel both won in 2008.
“Obviously NHRA is known for having more and more woman racers coming into their sport and it’s definitely welcomed over here,” said Force, the daughter of 15-time Funny Car champion John Force. “It’s cool to be in a Funny Car category where I’m not just the only female. Alexis DeJoria is out here racing with me and Erica Enders is winning Pro Stock so we’re making moves. I think it’s definitely exciting to be a part of NHRA, and to be a female involved in it is awesome.”
Enders and Force join women like Shirley Muldowney, Angelle Sampey, Karen Stoffer, Troxel, Shelly Anderson-Payne and Hillary Will who have experienced success in the NHRA’s four professional categories.
Ladies finding success in the NHRA is nothing new. The first national event winner was Shirley Shahan in 1966 in the Top Stock class. Muldowney won her first Top Fuel championship in 1977.
“Growing up as a little kid watching Shirley Muldowney and Shelly Anderson-Payne and Angelle Sampey all be successful in their classes, to have my name on a list with theirs is a dream come true for me,” said Enders. “It’s very surreal because with the support of my family and the people I have around me, I am able to be at this point and I couldn’t have done it without them. But to be on a list with those other women is tremendous.”
Enders joined the exclusive group by beating Greg Anderson to pick up a win in the hitherto male-dominated Pro Stock division.
“It is something that I have absolutely been working my entire life to get to this point in my career,” she said. “It has been a lot of hard years. This is my 20th year in racing including junior dragsters. Just like the pinnacle of the sport, the Pro Stock is like a good old boy’s class and so for us to finally be able to break through and get a win for women and for my team, who works so incredibly hard, week in and week out, it was the best feeling in the world.”
Both Force and Enders will compete in the upcoming O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway, Sept. 14-16. Fans can purchase three tickets and get one free in select sections. Children 13 and under are admitted for free every day of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, but they must have a ticket.
Tickets and camping are still available for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 14-16 at zMAX Dragway, by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).