ENNIS, Texas -- For more than a decade, John Force has been a figurative nightmare to Funny Car rivals in the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series. That image turns literal this week (Oct. 20-22) when the nine-time Winston Champion debuts a...
ENNIS, Texas -- For more than a decade, John Force has been a figurative nightmare to Funny Car rivals in the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series. That image turns literal this week (Oct. 20-22) when the nine-time Winston Champion debuts a "Frankenstein" version of his all-conquering Castrol GTXÂ® Ford during the 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol SYNTECâ„¢. The distinctively-painted Mustang, which features the image of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory creation (as seen at Universal Studios), is one of four "M-O-N-S-T-R-O-U-S" vehicles bidding for championships at Billy Meyer's Texas Motorplex. Force's Funny Car teammate, Tony Pedregon, will drive a Castrol SYNTEC Ford bearing the likeness of Dracula while Top Fuel driver Joe Amato will assume the persona of The Wolf Man. Two-time Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Hines' Suzuki will mirror Pedregon's Dracula, all as part of a special Halloween promotion by Universal Studios Consumer Products Group and Action Performance Companies, Inc. Of course, it's not like Force wasn't already the Monster of the Motorplex, the all-concrete quarter mile on which he broke the 4.80 barrier in 1998, on which he raced to 322.81 miles per hour in 1999 and on which he has reached the final round six times in the last four seasons. "It's a fun program that Fred Wagenhals at Action Performance put together for us," Force said. "We've had a Superman car for Castrol and an Elvis car and later this year we're going to have The Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It's a chance for us to have a little fun and sell the fans some T-Shirts and collectibles." Force, winner of a record 90 NHRA tour titles, has enjoyed some of his most satisfying victories and suffered through some of his most gut-wrenching defeats at the Motorplex where he clinched NHRA/Winston Championships in 1995, 1997 and 1999. There was the triple impact with the guardrail during a futile attempt to catch Cruz Pedregon in the 1992 final; his foul start against Al Hoffmann in the 1997 money run; and the eerie incident in which Ray Haggle lost control and hit Force's car from behind, well past the finish line, at the spring race in 1997. With that kind of Jekyll and Hyde history, Frankenstein seems almost tame. Already the most prolific winner in drag racing history and a winner in three of his last four Motorplex starts, Force can clinch his 10th series championship this week. "We'd like to win it at the Motorplex," Force said. "Because it's my favorite track. The concrete is perfect for Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly because it allows them to use all that horsepower they're so proud of making." For Force's Funny Car rivals, a Frankenstein Ford is just another indication that, despite their best efforts, the nightmare continues.
The Race on TV: ESPN2 will provide coverage at 1:30 pm (ET) and again at 6 pm (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Schedule: Qualifying at 2:30 pm & 6:30 pm (ET) Friday; Noon & 5 pm (ET) Saturday. Finals beginning at 12 noon (ET) Sunday. kk