John Force Racing press release
Force aiming to complete ‘comeback’ at Dallas
DALLAS, Texas – Four years after leaving the Texas Motorplex by air ambulance with injuries that threatened not just his career, but his survival, drag racing icon John Force is hoping to take the final therapeutic step in a lengthy recovery by winning this week’s 26th annual AAA Texas Fall Nationals.
Since enduring six hours of reconstructive surgery, a full month of rehabilitation at Baylor University Medical Center and a complete change of lifestyle (trading, as he has said, “nights in the bar for nights in the gym”), the 62-year-old has won seven tour events culminating last season in a record 15th NHRA series championship.
Nevertheless, the 2008 inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America won’t consider the journey complete until he wins again at the track on which he suffered the worst crash of his remarkable 34-year career; the only one, in fact, in which he suffered more than minor burns and abrasions.
The 2007 crash, in which his Castrol-backed Ford collided at 300 miles per hour with the Dodge driven by fellow Hall of Famer Kenny Bernstein, left the 133-time tour winner with a compound fracture of the left ankle, broken bones in his fingers, hands, toes and feet, a severe laceration to the right knee and tendon and ligament damage.
He missed the final three races of the season but, remarkably, was back in a race car the following January and four months later, he won the 2008 O’Reilly Summer Nationals at Topeka, Kan..
Back at the Motorplex two years ago, he took his Castrol GTX® HIGH MILEAGE™ Ford Mustang to the semifinals before losing to Tim Wilkerson. He was ousted in the second round in 2009 and lost in the finals (to Matt Hagan) a year ago. This week, he hopes to take the final step to redemption on the all-concrete track that always has been one of his favorites.
“I have a championship (since the crash),” Force said, “but I’d really like to win Dallas. I’ve won it plenty of times (six wins in the Fall Nationals and one in the now defunct Castrol Nationals contested in the spring). “I’m struggling right now, but I still have a lot of fight in me.
Of course, there is more at stake this weekend than just the exorcism of Force’s personal demons.
The first drag racer to earn Driver of the Year honors for all of American motor racing (1996) also needs to win the Fall Nationals to keep alive his hopes of successfully defending his most recent championship.
After stumbling in the first round of last week’s Countdown opener at Charlotte, N.C., the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection rolls into the Lone Star state 146 points behind pacesetting teammate Mike Neff and 124 points back of last week’s winner, Matt Hagan.
“Robert and I need to be there with Neff,” he said. “We want to help (Neff), but we also want to get our own championships. We’re only the first race in. We can stiill turn this thing around. I can win this championship or Robert can win this championship (and), if we can’t, then we better be there to help our teammate and try to take out the competition.”
The only contender to have won at least one race at every host track in the playoffs, Force hasn’t won at the Motoplex since 2005.