Ford has harvested success in junior ranks

Jeff Birchfield • Dec 23, 2017 at 5:17 PM

The work that Ethan Ford does on the farm has translated to success on the race track.

The 14-year-old from Jonesborough is a fourth-generation farmer who tends to cattle and helps his family raise crops. Those chores on the farm have given him a work ethic that has resulted in two Bristol Dragway track championships in five years of racing.

“They’re not the easiest thing to get,” Ford said about the championships. “You have to be committed to running every race they have and it’s hard to get to every race. You have to make sacrifices. Like your friends at school, you can’t go places with them because you’re practicing or working on the car.”

HIs dedication to the sport has led to 19 career victories including wins at both NHRA and IHRA drag strips. In 2015, Ford was named receipent of the NHRA Jr. Dragster Magazine Top Performer Award. A year later, he was the Division 2 (10-12 Year-Old) Race of Champions winner and this year, he won the prestigious Halloween Shootout at Farmington (N.C.) Dragway. Also, as one of the youngest competitors in Junior Dragster, Division 3 at Bristol Dragway this season, he finished fifth in the DER Bracket Series standings.

While Ford is active with the Homeland Baptist Church youth group, he isn’t involved in any organized sports outside of racing. Still, he appreciates the sacrifices the kids who play sports for Daniel Boone High School make. After some of them have visited the race track, they’ve also learned to appreciate what he does.

“Kids involved in other sports didn’t realize how much was involved in racing,” said Ford, who drives a 2015 Half-Scale 006 Extreme Dragster with a Fred Craw engine.

“But, some of them came and watched and they started catching on. It was a good way to get them out on the track. I never played other sports because I’ve always been so focused on racing.”

That focus has led to several perfect lights. He’s gotten close to a perfect run, missing his elapsed time by just a couple hundredths of a second, but the achievement remains elusive.

What isn’t elusive is the support of his family, his parents Lee and Connie Ford, and his sister Kaley. He’s also an honor roll student at Daniel Boone High School and a member of the school’s TSA robotics team. The technical knowledge acquired comes in handy working on the farm where it usually means a piece of equipment must be fixed on the spot instead of transported to some shop. The kind of ingenuity and mechanical knowledge also helps at the race track.

“I like working on the car and working on things around the farm,” he said. “You’re always working trying to keep the equipment running in the summer. Sometimes, you end up working on them more than you use them. But, it’s a great summer job. I’m always interested to see how things work and that’s one of my favorite parts of racing.”

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