Englishtown: Eric Medlen preview

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 18-20) -- One of the reasons rookie Funny Car driver Eric Medlen has developed so quickly into a legitimate NHRA POWERade contender is because he and the man who makes the mechanical decisions on the Castrol SYNTEC®...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 18-20) -- One of the reasons rookie Funny Car driver Eric Medlen has developed so quickly into a legitimate NHRA POWERade contender is because he and the man who makes the mechanical decisions on the Castrol SYNTEC® Ford didn't have to go through an awkward get-acquainted period.

That's because Medlen's crew chief also is his father: John Medlen.

"We're more than just father-son," acknowledged the younger Medlen, fourth in driver points entering the Father's Day weekend 35th annual K&N SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. "We're best buddies.

"We can talk just like friends. That's huge because most of these guys out here don't know each other that well (at the outset). There's always a learning period. But, with my dad, he can say, 'hey, get your head out of your ass' and he knows it's not going to create a problem.

"I come from a little small country town (Oakdale, Calif.) where, after you finished school, you'd go shovel (horse) stalls or you'd work at your dad's machine shop," explained the former high school rodeo champion. "So to be in this position (driving a car for 12-time NHRA Champion John Force) sometimes is a little overwhelming."

It's a little more so this weekend because it will be the first time the Medlens have raced on Father's Day as driver and crew chief.

"To win on Father's Day? With him? That would be huge," said the 30-year-old first year driver. "That would be the biggest thing you could ever imagine. When I was growing up, there's one guy you always wanted to impress and never disrespect and that was dad

"He was just kinda always my hero. Everybody says, who's your hero? 'Well, my dad.' But it's true. So to win with him would be unbelievable. Just to get to drive with him, I still can't believe it, really."

Although there was a time when he was leaning toward a professional rodeo career, Medlen instead came to work at John Force Racing in 1996 as a member of his dad's crew, working on the same 325 mile-an-hour Funny Car he now drives.

The following season, he moved over to Force's Castrol GTX Funny Car, on which he worked for seven seasons, first as the supercharger specialist and later as the clutch technician.

While Eric was winning 48 races with Force, his father was putting together a rather impressive resume of his own, one that culminated last season in a POWERade Championship, the 11th straight for Team Castrol.

Despite his relative inexperience (this is only his 11th professional race), Medlen has been to the semifinals or beyond in half his professional starts.

     "(Dad) kinda brings you down to earth," Medlen said.  "We've been racing
something for as far back as I can remember.  Whether it was hydroplane boats, stock
cars, mini-sprinters, go-carts, everything.  This is something that we've always talked
about.  I think we're both a little nervous, but in a good way."

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- www.johnforceracing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Eric Medlen , John Medlen