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Alex Taylor ‘PEAKS’ Her Curiosity By Starting John Force’s 11,000-Horsepower Funny Car

John Force Racing photo

Whenever a race car driver gets an opportunity to hop into a different style of vehicle, he or she typically becomes like a kid in a candy store.

It’s an all-new experience, one filled with excitement and anticipation, but also admittedly a bit of concern that they will do everything right the first time behind the new wheel.

Alex Taylor, co-host of the MotorTrend TV show “Hot Rod Garage”, enjoyed that type of experience Friday in the first day of the Route 66 Nationals Presented By PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant at Route 66 Raceway in suburban Chicago.

Although Taylor is already well-known for her drag racing exploits – including piloting her prized 1968 Camaro and 1955 Chevy 210 – as well as her popularity as an automotive influencer and social media maven, she checked off a BIG item on her bucket list Friday, sitting in and warming up the Funny Car of 16-time NHRA champion John Force.

Both Force and Taylor are sponsored by PEAK – and the Top Fuel dragster of Force’s daughter, Brittany, also carries PEAK colors for this weekend’s race – so there was already a familiarity of being members on the same team, so to speak.

The 27-year-old Taylor spent several hours hanging out in the pits of the three-team John Force Racing organization, with much of that time spent talking to and getting to know Brittany Force. As high-profile females in their respective classes of drag racing, Taylor and Force quickly formed a friendship and bond.

“Brittany is really awesome,” Taylor said. “I showed her a picture that I had taken with her when I was 15, back in 2012 at a Walmart Expo deal in Bentonville, Arkansas, my mom, sister and myself. I got a picture with all three sisters (Ashley, Brittany and Courtney Force) and got to meet John and all of them. It was really neat.

“And then today, I got to talk to her. We’ve never really had the chance to have an interaction and sit down and talk, and the longer we talked, the more we realized that we have a lot in common. Our dads are very similar in a lot of aspects.

“So it was really cool to get to talk to her and relate and each of us have some stuff that’s the same. She’s really cool and super down to earth. I really enjoyed chatting with her.”

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And best of all, Taylor added, “And now I’ve got a new friend!”

Taylor, who hails from tiny Booneville, Arkansas (population: 4,000) and followed in her father Dennis’s racing footsteps, competed in Friday’s PEAK Auto Street Car Shootout, and Brittany was at the starting line, watching and cheering on her new friend.

But before that, Taylor enjoyed one of the most spectacular experiences of her racing life when she turned the key and brought Force’s Funny Car to life. Although the car was on jack stands and didn’t go anywhere, just the experience of feeling 11,000 horsepower behind and under her was a thrill Taylor won’t soon forget.

“That was incredible,” Taylor said with a big grin on her face. “I’ve never had the chance to sit in a fuel car that was actually running. It’s one thing to hop in for a picture, but when you actually start the car, wow, there’s a lot going on there.”

Taylor admitted she was a bit nervous leading up to the experience.

“Anytime I get in any kind of a race car or anything new is always a very intimidating factor,” Taylor said. “John’s (Force) got an incredible crew of guys that walked me through every step.”

She then added with a laugh, “But of course, I got out and the first thing I asked was like, ‘What did I mess up?’ So a huge thank you to them for letting me do that because I know that comes in and changes their operation for the day. It was just incredible to sit behind an engine like that.”

Although she’s used to six- and seven-second runs in her own cars, Taylor demurred slightly when asked if she would consider driving a Top Fuel dragster or Funny Car – at 330-plus mph and under 4 seconds – one day in regular NHRA competition.

“I’ve been racing for more than 10 years,” Taylor said. “But any time I have a chance to drive anything or even just sitting in a car, I end up like, ‘You know what, I need to do this.’ So of course, sitting there, it’s one thing to watch a car with that kind of horsepower make a pass, and it’s another to sit behind it.

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“Of course, it crosses my mind. Like, you know, this is cool. This is an incredible operation. And I always say if the opportunity for something like this ever comes up. I’m not a person that’s gonna say no.”

Brian Bohlander, PEAK Director of Marketing – Sports and Partnerships, was happy at how the interaction between Taylor and Brittany and John Force went.

“It was a very big thing we had here, a very nice promotion with Alex,” Bohlander said. “One of the great things about Alex being the host of Hot Rod garage is she has a similar audience to an NHRA audience, but by the same token not necessarily your usual NHRA fans.

“So by colliding both of those worlds, it’s a win for everybody. There’s fans of Alex that are coming to this race who really don’t know anything about the NHRA. And there’s NHRA fans who really don’t know what Alex is doing over at Hot Rod Garage and Drag-and-Drive that her and the Sick The Mag group are doing here this weekend.

“It’s a win-win for everybody. It’s a win for PEAK to put those two worlds together, it’s a win for NHRA to expose the sport to a new fan base, and it’s a win for John Force Racing, as it’s bringing a new audience to JFR that may not necessarily be aware of NHRA Championship Drag Racing.”

John Force had equally good things to say about Taylor.

“She knows the drill; she drives a six-second car,” Force said. “She’s fast and she’s a mechanic, she works on it. She did good today and I’m excited to see where she’s going to go in her future. The PEAK connection is obviously important, too.”

Taylor was so appreciative of the chance to sit in John Force’s car and turn the engine over. It was a great experience. But it also had significant other meaning, as well.

“It’s really cool that PEAK was very adamant about making this connection happen,” Taylor said. “At the end of the day, that’s such a positive for the sport in general. Hopefully, together collectively with PEAK, we can continue to grow the sport of drag racing.”

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This story was originally published on May 18, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.