John, Ashley Force teleconference, part 1

What: NHRA POWERade Series Teleconference Who: John and Ashley Force Date: July 12, 2006 Moderator: Michael Padian (626-250-2217) THE MODERATOR: We'll get an introductory statement from John. Do you want to give the folks an idea of what the...

What: NHRA POWERade Series Teleconference
Who: John and Ashley Force
Date: July 12, 2006
Moderator: Michael Padian (626-250-2217)

THE MODERATOR: We'll get an introductory statement from John. Do you want to give the folks an idea of what the last week or so has been like with all the promotion for Driving Force?

JOHN FORCE: Well, thank God we didn't have a race. We've been filming naturally. We do that pretty much at least six days a week, seven days sometimes. But we've been on a media push. Ash and I flew to New York Monday afternoon to do the morning shows. We did The Early Show on CBS, ESPN Cold Pizza, which was a pretty exciting deal to be live on the streets of New York and in studio, then back here. We're filming right now with TV Guide downstairs. Tomorrow afternoon we're doing satellite uplinks to a bunch of groups, ABC, NBC, across the country.

We're just staying really busy. It's getting to be a little bit of stress.

THE MODERATOR: How are you doing, Ashley?

ASHLEY FORCE: I'm good. It's been really exciting, you know, just starting to see billboards go up, magazine articles coming out. Like dad said, we were in New York promoting the show. A lot of fun, a little hectic, but having a blast doing it.

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and take questions.

Q: John, you're going to be on the cover of TV Guide?

JOHN FORCE: We'll either be on -- no, we got a full center spread, two-page spread. We've been pretty fortunate. People Magazine came out with us yesterday, Star Magazine, Entertainment Weekly. The push is just starting. It's been starting in the last couple weeks. We're in theaters around town now, they're showing us before the opening of shows, billboards everywhere. So pretty exciting.

Q: Has this been distracting at all from your racing?

JOHN FORCE: No, because the machine that I created, I've been really fortunate. Jerry Darien runs Ashley's team. My crew chiefs, (Austin) Coil, Bernie (Fedderly), John Medlen and Jimmy Prock, they run the race teams. In fact, Coil said to me the other day: Are you still racing? I've been in the day-to-day because we've been filming for six months. We started at Pomona the opening race back in February. Now they've asked for an extension of shows. We were surprised. They've seen cuts of a lot of the shows. We hope that it's good. I hope they haven't pushed it. They've asked for four or five more shows, I think, because that's called a season. 14 or 15 shows, they consider a complete season. They've already extended it.

But, no, my focus has always been on everything, but it's been a lot on this show lately. When I get to Denver, I leave tomorrow after we shoot, my focus will be in the driver's seat trying to get that lead. Tony Pedregon is coming on strong, and (Ron) Capps, he ain't giving up the lead. We got to get our stuff together.

Q: I was talking to your dad about a week ago. He mentioned it's stressful for you. Sometimes you try and speak on behalf of your sisters and want some free time. Even when you do get the free time, you want to leave the cameras behind because you don't want them to go on a date with you. Has been doing this, having to give up a social life, maybe more than you've bargained for?

ASHLEY FORCE: No, it took a little bit of time to adjust to it. Now they've been along with us for the ride for so many months that you almost at times forget that they're there. We forget we're even mic'd or that there's cameras around because it's just become part of our day-to-day.

You know, my social life is not affected from the show. It's really affected because I'm racing all the time, and that's what I choose to do. It's not a complaint I have, it's kind of picking priorities. I'm a little older than my sisters. My focus is more on racing where they're younger and still learning and doing other stuff, too, which is how I was at their age.

I definitely am a little more serious probably about the whole race situation, and I have a lot more responsibility on the road out there. There's no time for a love life. With dad as my father, people don't even go near me. It works out well.

Q: He also said another reason he did the show was to help give you a better appreciation of what it takes to build a business, a career, a race team. Do you have a better appreciation for what your dad now has gone through building this operation to what it is right now?

ASHLEY FORCE: The good thing in this company, in a family company, is that you get to see all the different aspects of it. When you become a race car driver, it's not just that you race a car, it is that you work with media, you promote your sponsors. But there's a whole other side, which is owning teams, running teams, teaching new drivers. I don't have all those responsibilities, but I get to see my dad having all those different jobs in one and know that down the road I can start teaching and showing my sisters and helping them to learn about sponsors and stuff like that.

It's a learning process, but there's definitely a lot more that goes into it. And doing this show came along at a time when my sisters and I all jumped into this business. It's a good way of showing our fans all that goes into a race team besides just running down the track.

Q: John, Sonoma Infineon Raceway is also inducting you into the Hall of Fame later this month. I wanted to ask you about that honor and what Sonoma means to you.

JOHN FORCE: I'm really excited about that. Sonoma's fun because it's California. When you're at Pomona, you're on overload, the beginning of the season and the end. But Sonoma, even though we're there to win the race, it's fun because we work with FRAM Autolite, we get to do their banquet dinners out at the wineries. We get to see a little bit of San Francisco if we get in town a little bit early with the press conferences. We just love the area because we love the state of California.

Raced in Sacramento over the years. Naturally we got a place that we'll end up for a few days, even though they'll be shooting there again. Lake Tahoe, we go over there. It's a good time.

But the track is excellent, the fans are great because we have a huge following, as does Ron Capps being from that area up there, when we get to the racetrack there. The honor what they're giving me, when you can get up there, I joke that I'm going after the Wally for the championship, I'm going after an Oscar in Hollywood, that's kind of joking. But I'm going after NASCAR. I don't mean I'm trying to drive in NASCAR, I'm not trying to do anything like that. I want to be one with the others that help build our sport to the size of NASCAR someday. I believe there's a shot at that with NHRA and Tom Compton, POWERade, ESPN, everybody working that direction.

Whenever I'm put on the likes of a wall with a Jeff Gordon and Bruton Smith, his group honors me that way, it really is exciting to be put up because you're there forever. I'm really looking forward to that induction on Sunday.

Q: Are you going to be filming here in Sonoma?

JOHN FORCE: Yup. In fact, production people showed up here because they're having kind of a screening on Monday after Denver. We've got to get back here to watch the show when it kicks off on Monday night, July 17 at 9 p.m. The crews are going north to Seattle. They're filming. Ashley is going to the rodeo with Eric right before the Sonoma race. Of course, they're going to do the countryside. They're going to Oakland is where you're going to film ... ?

ASHLEY FORCE: Oakdale.

JOHN FORCE: Going to the rodeo with Eric Medlen who is from the rodeo originally, and then they're going to coming over to film the race. They're going to film naturally us being honored into that induction. They're with us all the time.

But you know what, I get up in the morning, I go to tuck in my pants, half the time I'm shoving a wire in that's not even there. Think you're bugged, right? It's just the way we live.

But what I really (learned) most is that I really put my children and my wife on overload. In the first few weeks, it was fun, and then it became painful. But now all of a sudden we're starting to get the grip of this deal, be yourself, do your thing, and go through the day. We spend a lot of time shooting green rooms, then we have to come back. When we did a shot, the railroad train came by, they didn't get the voice. We have to dub that voice back in.

My kids, if nothing else, I wanted to teach them the business. They're really learning it through racing, their own school. My daughter Brittany is pulling double-time with college. Ashley is flying to New York, flying to do a dinner with Oakley, then filming all the time. They're really growing fast. This has really helped us mature these kids. Ashley was already way, way ahead of everybody. As you can see on TV yesterday, she can outtalk me and throws me under the bus now on a regular basis. That's where I wanted her to evolve to, with respect.

THE MODERATOR: The show debuts Monday night at 9 eastern, 8 central on the A&E Network.

Q: John, it seems like in the pre-advertising for this show, they really in their teaser ads emphasize the sort of sex appeal angle with your daughters. Was that shocking to you at all or did you think this was just part of the business?

JOHN FORCE: I was a little upset because, you know, my wife has raised these kids, and I've been around all these years, I just missed everything. Like I said, I only see them in the winner's circle. At the end of the day when my work was done, I always tried to find some time. I really kind of failed as a father. In fact, if you get National Dragster this week of Denver, there's a story in there where I try to explain the mistakes, how racing took me away, but it's given me a chance to come back.

But, you know, to be with the family, we have our issues, real-life issues that they don't want to be told, and mother doesn't want to be told. There's just a lot of everything. Like, what makes you come back now and you want to run everything? I don't want to run everything. I want to teach them the business so if I was to fall over dead tomorrow, I know my kids will survive. I know that Eric and Robert will survive.

But the girls have so much to learn. Ashley is really their teacher. She's the one that's really leading the two little ones. But the sex was something. When they come to us and talked about magazines, they wanted to put us in FHM, Maxim, I really fought against it. We showed up in People, Star, a lot of them. But I was shocked when I saw the commercials. I called my attorney. I said, 'This wasn't supposed to be. We know what we agreed to. There would be no porn.' The problem is, in my overload, I've approved a lot of stuff I never really looked at. Somebody shows you a little tiny picture, you approve it. Then when it comes out, it's zippers undone.

But my girls are good. They really worked. They don't let them go too far because they're just really good kids. But you can't stop it. If there's nude scenes of me that's going to probably ruin my career because I don't look so good. My kids look great, I don't look so good.

A&E has control. The bottom line is they have the final word, but they have to work in good faith. They say, Come on, John, we're selling Charlie's Angels, three girls that race cars and live day-to-day putting up with you. That's what this show is about.

Like we said, if you want to see good racing, nobody does it better than ESPN2. If you want to see a little bit of racing and the day-to-day lives of building a business, families trying to stay together like every other family in America, that's what this show is about, the ups and (downs of family life).

Q: John, are you going to be glad to get back to racing this weekend? Sounds like you've had a pretty hectic schedule.

JOHN FORCE: You know, we spent -- if the other fellow is there from Memphis, if I didn't lose him, we're looking to film Graceland, Beale Street, because I have a car in Graceland. There's a lot of opportunities. But, boy, you know one morning we left for the airport at 5:00. The camera crews were loaded in a truck behind us. They made a turnoff on the San Diego freeway. When we got to the gates, we checked our bags, it was like when we went through the metal detectors, my kids, it tripped me, they were jumping up and down like, We ditched them, we're free. Everybody was laughing. Then they call come running through the door with their cameras. They wouldn't let them with us.

It's almost like freedom. You don't realize what you appreciate just having your space and not being watched all the time.

But, boy, to go to Denver (Thursday) afternoon when I'm done with my last show tomorrow at 1:00, I'm going to get on that plane and I'm ready, you know.

Continued in part 2

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Ashley Force , Eric Medlen , John Medlen