Courtney Force is helping put to rest the ridiculously lazy stereotype that you don't have to be athletic to race cars for a living.
For the uninitiated, the daughter of NHRA legend John Force posed for ESPN The Magazine's yearly Body Issue, which features athletes showing off, you guessed it, their bodies.
Now, as is natural with something like this, there will be controversy and debate about what kind of message the 25-year-old Force is actually getting across, but in my mind, her purpose is both clear and successful.
Force is showing that racing cars for a profession is more than just sitting in a comfortable seat and pushing your foot to the floor.
Take a look, courtesy of Force's friend and PR rep Sarah Marie Adams:
So, yeah, the girl is in shape. And if I were a betting man (which I am), I would feel pretty comfortable putting down a wager that 90 percent of the people who race cars for a living are also in very good shape.
Is Force altering your view of the athleticism of race car drivers?
As for the other 10 percent, every sport has some unathletic participants who find their way into the professional ranks—call it the Boris Diaw Outlier.
Anyways, this stereotype is by far the worst in sports. The one where people assume that the job of race car drivers—whether it be NASCAR drivers going in circles, Funny Car drivers like Force going in a straight line or anyone else—is easy. That pretty much anyone in the world can do it.
"Oh, well, I got my Honda Civic up to, like, 85 yesterday. I could totally race cars for a living."
Force gives a pretty good answer to those types of ridiculous claims in a recent interview with ESPN's Morty Ain:
A lot of people think that as a race car driver, you just sit in the seat and mash the throttle and it's just a 4-second run and it's easy. But there's a lot that goes into it. You need a lot of upper body and core and leg strength to drive a 10,000-horsepower racecar. I hope we can capture that. It bothers me when people think we aren't athletic.
Force's inclusion in "The Mag" works on two levels.
The first, we've already covered. It gives visual proof that she is in shape, works out and takes care of herself.
Second, it increases her popularity and likely gets the common, uneducated fan to look up the sport of Funny Car racing. And if they look it up, they'll find something along the lines of this:
Um, yeah. That acceleration is absurd. If you think you are going to be able to control something moving with that kind of, um, force (sorry) without being in tip-top shape, you are kidding yourself.
It's only inevitable that race car driving will continue to be disrespected as a sport, but hopefully Force's work in the upcoming magazine will at least begin to debunk the negative stereotypes.