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June 08, 2017

IndyCar's Graham Rahal on wife Courtney Force's fiery NHRA accident: 'It's a hard thing to see

Courtney Force was happy to be able to walk away from an NHRA accident that turned her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car into a fireball on June 3 at Epping, New Hampshire.

 
Force was quick to thank the folks at Simpson Performance Products. The explosion destroyed the body of her Camaro and sent a blast of flame through the cockpit, but she escaped unscathed.
 
“I’m thankful that I had all my Simpson gear on to help protect me during my explosion during Friday qualifying,” Force said. “Through the fire and the impact, Simpson definitely helped keep me protected and allowed me to walk away from such a horrific incident.”
 
Courtney Force's husband, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, meanwhile, went through a bevy of emotions after watching the incident live back in Detroit where Rahal was racing this past weekend.
 
"When it's your wife, in particular, it strikes a chord more than you can ever imagine," Rahal said. "It's hard for me not to overthink the situation. Most people never understand how it feels.
 
"In those things, when it goes wrong, the driver in many ways is not a driver and becomes a passenger, and I hate that. I hate that. It's a hard thing to see."
Force uses a Simpson firesuit, gloves, neck collar and boots and shoes. The firesuit has some minor burns on the outside, but Force was unharmed by the flames.
 
Force’s father, 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, was in the pair behind Courtney, strapped in his Peak Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet. 
 
“That’s my daughter out there,” John Force said. “My guys are already thinking about talking about more safety stuff. We even got a shout out from (Don) Schumacher about some ideas they had on this because it’s happened to them. We’re moving ahead. But when I saw the front of her firesuit, I knew that it protected her. That explosion was so great that when it blew, it ripped the steering out and she couldn’t steer it. Usually, when you blow a body off, you can keep it off the wall.
 
“Yes, it was a total loss. We lost a complete body, complete chassis, complete engine. But my kid walked out of there, and I owe a big thank you to Chuck Davies and his team at Simpson for keeping my family safe.”
 
The NHRA traveling series moves on to the NHRA Summernationals this weekend at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey.

 

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