Commentary

Talking cars, tunes and chart climbing with Ashley Force and Pete Loeffler

Funny Car driver Ashley Force and Chevelle front man Pete Loeffler recently slowed down long enough to talk cars, tunes and chart climbing with ESPN The Mag's Ryan McGee.

Updated: January 22, 2008, 7:11 PM ET
By Ryan McGee | ESPN The Magazine

Ashley Force, daughter of 14-time NHRA champ John, has spent most of her 25 years watching her old man live in the fast lane. Now, after a two-season turn in A&E's reality show Driving Force and a rookie run at the Funny Car title, she's in the spotlight too.

Meanwhile, Chevelle front man Pete Loeffler feels as if he's constantly going 300 mph, as he tours behind the band's fourth album, Vena Sera. But the two recently slowed down long enough to talk cars, tunes and chart climbing.

Pete Loeffler -- I grew up in a car house. My dad was always working on cars.

Ashley Force -- Me too.

PL -- We didn't go to ball games. We went to car shows and drag strips. We have family portraits in which we're all sitting on bumpers and fenders. So when it came time to name the band, we named it after a car our dad built. That's not a problem because you race a Ford, is it?

AF -- No, I'll give you a pass because I own your CDs. Besides, when I took shop in high school, the coolest guy in class drove a yellow Chevelle.

PL -- Well, for what it's worth, Dad's specialty is '32 Fords. He actually builds them, then drops Chevy engines into them.

AF -- Playing both sides of the fence!

PL -- Speaking of playing -- when we recorded the music for Vena Sera, we lived at the Palms in Vegas, to get in a rock groove. But when it came time to write the words, I went to the beach to get away from all the noise. But I know a lot of athletes use music to get ready for game time. Do you?

AF -- My crew is really young, and when we're working on the cars we always have some music playing. Rock or country or whatever, depending on what mood we're in or where we're racing. Then you walk down to my dad's team -- a bunch of old guys -- and it's totally silent. I'd bring out my Chevelle CDs, but I know my team would never give them back.

PL -- Don't worry, I can hook you up. What's funny is how many of our fans have no idea we took our name from a car. They're too young to know what a Chevelle is.

AF -- I get that too. Young fans know the name Force because they know me and my sisters or they're big fans of the TV show, but they have no idea John Force has all these wins and championships. To them he's just our dad.

PL -- Yeah, it's tough when people don't understand your background. They'll hear us on the radio and think, "Wow, that band has come out of nowhere!" I want to take them back 10 years, when we put 250,000 miles on our van as we drove from gig to gig; to the nights when the only people in the venue were friends who showed up because we promised them beer.

AF -- That's just like my time in all the lower divisions, when no one watched and only two of us worked on the car. Dad could have put me in a nitro car if he'd wanted to, but he thought it was important that I work my way up. You don't need to go too fast too early.

PL -- It takes time before you can rock 'n' roll.

Ryan McGee, a motorsports writer for ESPN The Magazine, is the author of "ESPN Ultimate NASCAR: 100 Defining Moments in Stock Car Racing History."

Ryan McGee | email

ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR