In the sport of Top Fuel Drag racing, there’s no separation between men and women when competing at the top-level. There’s no “lesser” women’s division that’s kept separate from playing with the big boys. And that’s probably a good thing because women are currently dominating the drag racing scene. While out testing at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend, both Leah Pritchett and Courtney Force had career best runs in their respective divisions.
Pritchett drives the stretched out dragster and Force drives what’s called a Funny Car, which is essentially a shortened version of the dragster with a fiberglass shell draped over it. Both of which are powered by massive engines that produce a mind-numbing 11,000+ hp thanks to being fed straight nitromethane as the source of fuel. Not to be confused with nitrous oxide which is normally associated with being “shot” into the motor in addition to the gas already fueling the engine.
The way these Top Fuel cars are able to put all that power to the ground is nothing short of extraordinary. Even with the massive racing slicks, it’s still almost unbelievable that they can hook up off the starting line and then end up going over 300mph in under 4 seconds in just 1,000 feet. Even as a spectator, it’s one of the most intense and exciting forms of Motorsports on the planet. Everything pales in comparison to the sheer energy created by these things when they’re at full throttle. So I can only imagine what it must feel like to be the one with your right foot on the go pedal with that much power underneath it.
Leah had been running some ridiculously quick times throughout the session, beating her own record a few times behind the wheel of her Papa John’s sponsored dragster. But at the end of the day, her quickest run was 3.654 seconds at 331.85mph. The current official E.T. record is held by Steve Torrence with a 3.671 and he was also out testing and managed to lay down a 3.691, which was the second quickest of the day if you don’t include Pritchett’s other runs of 3.67 and 3.68.
In the closing hours of the second day of testing, Courtney managed to lay down her career best E.T. as well in her Advance Auto Parts Funny Car. She told a reporter after the run that she thought she misunderstood her crew chief when he told her over the radio that she had just clocked a 3.80 at 333.33mph. Up to that point, Force was already on cloud 9 after running two 3.84’s earlier in the day. The current official record for Funny Cars is held by Matt Hagan who ran a 3.822 just last season.
Technically the times these two gorgeous women managed to lay down are “unofficial” because they happened during a practice session and not during an actual race. But not only were they both career bests, they also beat the official E.T. records in each discipline even though they can’t really take credit for it. It’s sort of like the Hennessey Venom GT and its World Record top speeds in both the convertible and coupe variants.
But as far as I’m concerned, and probably most other people as well, these two ladies are the fastest women in drag racing, as well as any other motorsport I can think of. I like to give credit where credit is due and with that being said, congratulations to Leah and Courtney on their monumental achievements. Keep in mind, this is the first time each of these ladies has been out testing since the end of last season. So it’s possible that they could not only make these numbers official but improve upon them. Needless to say, it appears as if the 2017 NHRA Top Fuel season could be an exciting one.