Brainerd: John Force preview

PGA focus is on Tiger Woods, but Force is the better driver. BRAINERD, Minn. While the best golfer in the world plies his trade 150 miles away at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, the best drag racer in the world takes his traveling road...

PGA focus is on Tiger Woods, but Force is the better driver.

BRAINERD, Minn. While the best golfer in the world plies his trade 150 miles away at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, the best drag racer in the world takes his traveling road show to Brainerd International Raceway this week (Aug. 16-18) where he hopes to become only the second driver in history to reach the winners' circle 10 times in a single NHRA national event.

John Force doesn't play golf. That's Tiger Woods' game.

So, while Woods is breaking par this weekend at Hazeltine, Force hopes to be breaking records at the 21st annual Rugged Liner Nationals, 16th of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The NHRA Funny Car Champion 11 of the last 12 seasons, Force has won nine times in 16 appearances at BIR where his career "match play" record is a remarkable 48-7 (87.3 per cent).

At no other event in the series has the 53-year-old veteran coaxed his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to more victories than he has at Brainerd, a track on which he has won six of the last eight years and eight of the last 12.

Those stats certainly rival Tiger's and while the two icons have never been formally introduced, they do have some things in common, the least of which is not the fact that both rely on consistent drives for their considerable success.

The difference is that Woods measures his drives by their accuracy. Force measures his by their velocity.

Woods is known for his power off the tee; Force for his off the starting line. Woods can crank a golf ball 300 yards on the fly. Force can accelerate from zero to 100 miles per hour in eight-tenths of a second, reaching 325 mph in 4.8 seconds or less, which means that even on a short par three, Force's Mustang would beat Woods' golf ball from tee to green.

Woods generally plots a straight line down a meandering course; Force drives a meandering path down a straight course, the result of trying to maintain some semblance of control in a 2,375-pound hybrid race car powered by a 7,000 horsepower engine. The course may be a straight line quarter mile, but "straight" is a relative term.

To Woods, four Gs is four thousand dollars. To Force, four Gs is the pressure to which he is subjected each time he hits the accelerator on his hybrid Mustang. Not only that, his body endures four negative Gs when the twin braking parachutes begin the deceleration process.

As champions, what the two share is the ability to rise to the occasion, to take their respective "games" to a higher level whenever they are challenged.

"When you look at the statistics, John's no longer among the top drivers in average reaction time," acknowledged Crew Chief Austin Coil, "but when we have to have some help at the starting line, he still gets it for us.

"Plus he does a lot of other things better than most. When there's a traction problem, he's probably the best at pedaling the car (feathering the throttle) and regaining the momentum. But the biggest thing is, he hates to lose just as much as I do."

Together, Force and Coil haven't lost very often, but they have won nine straight championships and 102 races together including the most recent event on the tour the Aug. 4 Fram/Autolite Nationals at Sonoma, Calif. As a result, Force comes into BIR as the points leader for the 12th time in the last 13 years.

-www.johnforceracing.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Austin Coil