John Force’s Staying Power in NHRA

Simply put, John Force's longevity in NHRA speaks volumes for any racer.

Simply put, John Force’s longevity in NHRA speaks volumes for any racer.

John Force has a larger than life personality. Moreover, Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history, added a larger than life milestone to his resume: 150 career wins.

Force pinned down win No. 150 last month at the NRHA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington, and it was a celebration fit for a king.

Never one to hide his emotions, Force let a couple colorful words slip out in his post-race interview.  He followed that up by jumping the chain link fence and climbing into the stands to celebrate with his fans.

“When I crashed in 2007, the doctor told me I had broken arms and broken legs, and I was done,” Force said. “I said I’d be back, and a year later in Topeka I won. And I wanted to (climb into the stands) then, but I just couldn’t physically do it. I swore that if I ever had another opportunity, I’d do it.

Part of it was, I was just trying to get away from everything, but part of it was the fans have been there. They’ve been there through every win. Hell, they’ve been there for every time I was no good. The fans are unbelievable. They were patting me on the back. They were congratulating me. It was great.”

Force said he could not have reached the goal without the support of sponsors like Peak, Auto Club, Advanced Auto and Montana Brand.  Furthermore, he felt relieved not only for himself.  Most importantly, he won for those sponsors who continue to support him. He said the scrutiny of seeking that 150th win was wearing on him leading up to the race, but that ended up being a good thing.

“I joked about having that monkey on my back, but that helped me,” he said. “It helped me get my focus back. I wasn’t paying attention to the car and I wasn’t doing the things I had to to win.”

Force’s milestone win came on the heels of teammate and John Force Racing President, Robert Hight winning his 50th race a week earlier. Just moments after Force’s win another teammate, rookie Austin Prock, drove to his first career win in the Top Fuel division, taking down Steve Torrence, who has dominated the category all season long.

“The kid (Prock) had joked that he was going to get his first when I got my 150th.  And then he goes and does it,” Force said. “That was pretty cool. He’s worked really hard and we knew a win was coming. And Robert getting his fiftieth the week before was also cool.”

“I still can’t believe it,” Prock said. “I don’t think you could top this. Knowing that I was hunting for my first win and Force was hunting number 150, me and Daniel Hood (Force’s son-in-law) both said that when Force got his 150th I would win my first, and the fact that we were able to do that is truly unbelievable.”

Prock said that sharing his first win with Force, who gave him the chance to live out his dream of racing a top fuel dragster made it even more special.

All three drivers agree, however, that the milestones are just the first step.  More work lies ahead to reach the ultimate goal of a championship.

“The way I look at it, the records are cool, but this is the time of year you need to have your combination figured out and have your act together, and hopefully we’re doing that,” said Hight. “This validates the work we’ve been doing. We had a great western swing, the last two races, and now we need to keep it going.”

“I’m glad it’s over and I can move on to set new goals,” Force said. “I race because I love driving these 330 mile per hour Funny Cars. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

Prock, who is the only member of the John Force Racing stable who is not locked into a playoff spot entering the final race of the regular season, the US Nationals in Indianapolis August 28-September 2, said he feels he and his team are hitting their stride.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” he said. “We’ve had a fast car all year, but we haven’t gotten the lucky breaks. We got a couple of those on Sunday, now we have to keep it going.”

This weekend’s US Nationals will close out the NHRA regular season.  On that note, Force said he hopes that all four John Force Racing teams can go into the Countdown to the Championship with positive momentum.  Of course, focusing solely on the task at hand, now that these milestones are in the rearview, will be a good thing.

“Of course we want to do well,” he said. “Everyone out here wants to do well. I think we’ve got the people to do it. I think we’ve got the sponsors to do it, and I think we’ve got the drivers to do it.”

tmjcovey@gmail.com'
Terrill Covey

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