Houston-Force interview (FUNNY CAR)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 FEAR OF RETIREMENT HELPS TO KEEP FORCE MOTIVATED IN FUNNY CAR BAYTOWN, Texas -- It doesn't take much for John Force to stay motivated in NHRA Winston Funny Car...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

FEAR OF RETIREMENT HELPS TO KEEP FORCE MOTIVATED IN FUNNY CAR

BAYTOWN, Texas -- It doesn't take much for John Force to stay motivated in NHRA Winston Funny Car racing. All he needs to do is think of pension plans, retirement homes and sipping pina coladas under a palm tree, and he is terrified.

"I'm very fortunate," Force said. "I'm 47 years old, and a lot of people that age would be looking at retirement. Retirement would be the end of me, because I get up every morning and pump down the coffee, and it's what I live for. If they took away my hot rod, I'd be worth nothing.

"I still look in the mirror in the morning without my robe on, and all I am is just a little old man with a pot belly and hair that's turning gray. But you put me in a race car, and I'm Darth Vader. I get tough, wicked and mean, and can still run with the kids."

Indeed. Force shows no signs of relinquishing the drive that has earned him six NHRA Winston Funny Car championships this decade and four straight titles since 1993.

Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., should have plenty of motivation for victory at the 10th annual, $1,631,200 Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto, March 20-23 at Houston Raceway Park. The race is the fourth event of the 22-event, $30- million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

After all, he is defending event champion. Plus he still is smarting from a quarterfinal loss to Dean Skuza earlier this month at the Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. It was his first loss since Oct. 13, 1996, as he won the season finale in 1996 and the first two races of this season in the Castrol GTX Pontiac Firebird.

"I think the motivation and drive I have will keep me going longer maybe than some, but I've got to keep winning to stay on top," Force said. "The fear is still there, so I just keep fighting."

*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. March 21 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 22. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. March 23. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. March 20.

*Tickets: Tickets are available for the Slick 50 Nationals. Call Houston Raceway Park at (281) 383-2666 or check the track's World Wide Web site at http://www.houstonraceway.com for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased from Ticketmaster. To order through Ticketmaster, call (713) 629-3700.

*On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Slick 50 Nationals at 4 p.m. (CST) March 23. ESPN2 also will televise Friday-night qualifying with a two-hour, same-day show starting at 11:30 p.m. (CST) March 21. All-day, live coverage of final eliminations will be shown on pay-per-view from 10:30-6 p.m. (CST) March 23. The telecast costs $14.95. Viewers must order the programming through their satellite or cable provider.

*On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30- 3/11/97-HT3-044

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Dean Skuza , John Force