May the ‘Force’ be with you
Age is merely a number to some people, but to the NHRA’s long-standing senior John Force, it is nothing.
At 64, Force is drag racing’s force of nature. He is still driving his alcohol funny car at more than 320 mph.
He has won 139 races and 16 NHRA titles, both records.
Force has shown that age hasn’t slowed him down, backing up his 2013 championship by winning the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., racing to an elapsed-time national record of 3.965 seconds.
In 2007, Force wondered if he could continue racing after Eric Medlen, a driver for John Force Racing, died in a testing crash. Force nearly had racing taken away from him, when a 300 mph accident in Dallas had doctors telling him he’d have to relearn how to walk and that his racing career was questionable.
He worked his way back into racing shape and designed new ways to make cars safer to prevent accidents like the one that took Medlen’s life.
Force won the next year to extend his streak of at least one win to 22 seasons, then followed his first winless season with his 15th Funny Car title in 2010.
Finances became a road block for Force in 2013, when he learned two major sponsors would be leaving at the end of 2014.
Undeterred, he went to work on the track, earning his 16th title, one he hopes will open doors to new sponsors and prove that this old dog can still drive like a young pup.
It certainly doesn’t appear Force will slow down anytime soon.
The Winternationals marked his sixth straight final dating to last season and he still has that unmatched ability to hit that throttle just a little quicker than the other guy when the starting-line Christmas tree lights green.
“This isn’t NASCAR where you have to drive three or four hours around in a circle,” Force said. “This is drag racing, where you’ve got to be at the peak of your game right when that Christmas tree comes down. I’ve been driving these things longer than anyone; no one has driven a Funny Car as long as John Force has. In that period of time, I joked that I could drive it blindfolded. I may try that sometime.”
Chances are, he’d probably win that, too.
John Force Racing is a family affair. Force has two daughters that compete in the NHRA. His youngest daughter, Courtney Force, is 25-years-old and drives the TRAXX sponsored Funny Car. Her older sister, Brittany Force, is 27-years-old and drives the CASTROL Top Fuel car. One other member of the Force clan is Robert Hight. Hight is the president of John Force Racing, an NHRA Funny Car champion and the son-in-law of John.
Ashley Force Hood is one of the most noted female drivers in the sport. Hood retired from the sport in 2012 to start a family. She is president of John Force Entertainment, a subscidiary of John Force Racing.
Luke Skywalker used the force, John lives it everyday of his life.
Contact Eddie Thomas at email@example.com