Homestead, FL, Nov. 20, 2010 - John Force, who captured his record 15th NHRA Funny Car Championship with a come-from-behind victory last weekend in Pomona, CA, was presented the prestigious Spirit of Ford Award in a surprise ceremony here today at Ford Championship Weekend in the Homestead-Miami Speedway media center.

The Spirit of Ford Award is the highest honor Ford Motor Company bestows for lifetime achievement in auto racing, on and off the race track. Force becomes the 24th recipient, joining an international list of honorees from all forms of racing and racing media.

He was given his award in a surprise presentation today by Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford and a member of the company's board of directors.

"Legend is a word often used in sports," said Ford. "But there truly are legends in auto racing and John Force is one of them.

"We decided to present this award to John not just because of his record on the track - which is Hall of Fame worthy - but also what he has done off the track to help move forward the sport of drag racing."

Force, who came back from career-threatening injuries suffered in a crash in Dallas in 2007, captured his record 15th NHRA Funny Car title this past weekend in Pomona, coming from behind to win the series' final two races.

He has a record 15 personal championships, a record 132 victories, and has led his team to 17 championships in the last 21 years, a record unmatched in any form of sport.

Following the testing death of his teammate Eric Medlen in March 2007, Force turned his grief into something positive for the sport, leading the way with Ford Motor Company engineers into designing a safer cockpit for Nitro cars, a design credited with possibly saving his life in his own crash later that year. The effort was named "The Eric Medlen Project," in honor of his fallen teammate.

He and Ford have continued to develop a safer and strong chassis for the sport, and his championship this year confirmed the competitiveness of the design.

"John has tirelessly promoted the sport of motor racing far and wide, with his entertaining stories and his friendship with racers from all forms of the sport," said Ford. "It's because of what he has done, and the way he has honored the sport, his fellow competitors, and the fans, that he is truly deserving of the Spirit of Ford."

Spirit of Ford Awards Winners

Bill Stroppe, 1988
Bob Glidden, 1989
Chris Economaki, 1990
Richard Petty, 1992
Bob Bondurant, 1993
Mario Andretti, 1994
Jackie Stewart, 1994
Bud Moore, 1995
Parnelli Jones, 1996
Jim Clark, 1997
Phil Hill, 1998
Stirling Moss, 1998
Bill France, Sr., 1998 Bill France Jr. 1998
Junie Donlavey, Jr., 1999
Glen Wood, 1999
Leonard Wood, 1999
Dan Gurney, 1999
Denise McCluggage, 2000
Bill Elliott, 2000
Carroll Shelby, 2001
Wally Parks, 2001
Ned Jarrett, 2003
Mose Nowland, 2005
Jack Roush, 2006
John Force, 2010

-source: ford racing