BAYTOWN, Texas -- No one doubts that John Force is as competitive at age 50 as he ever was. But what about the man behind the man? What about Austin Coil, Force's long-time Crew Chief? What about the man who, before directing Force...
BAYTOWN, Texas -- No one doubts that John Force is as competitive at age 50 as he ever was. But what about the man behind the man? What about Austin Coil, Force's long-time Crew Chief? What about the man who, before directing Force to nine championships in the last 10 years, won titles in 1982 and 1983 with driver Frank Hawley? Are 11 NHRA championships and 87 victories enough? Apparently not. "Enough is always a couple more," Coil said as he prepared Force's national record-holding (4.788 seconds, 324.05 miles per hour) Castrol GTX Ford Mustang for this week's (Oct. 29-31) third annual Matco Tools SuperNationals at Houston Raceway Park. "If you ask me next year," he continued, "it'll still be a couple more. And (even) if we win three or four more (championships), a couple more' will still be the right number. I once asked a guy who was very successful financially, how much money do you need?' And he said, a little bit more.'" To the dismay of Funny Car rivals, Coil, who made his reputation in the 1970s with the "Chi-Town Hustler" Funny Car he operated in partnership with John Farkonas and Pat Minick, is not yet ready to rest on his considerable reputation. "We certainly have a race car and a combination that'll be competitive for a little while but, believe me, we're working very hard on development of our own engine components," he said. "We're putting an awful lot of effort into trying to make some parts like intake manifolds and fuel injectors that we think will be a little better. Myself, Bernie Fedderly and John Medlen have been working on a lot of things that I believe we're going to be able to race with early next season." Unfortunately for the competition, most of the new components aren't yet ready for testing. That means Force will go to the starting line at Houston Raceway Park with basically the same combination that has carried him to 10 victories this year including a convincing win last week at the Motorplex in which he beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the quickest side-by-side race in Funny Car history, 4.827 seconds-4.843 seconds. "We'd like to finish the season with a couple more wins if we can," Coil said, "because we're so embarrassed by how poorly we did at Indy (first round losses at Indianapolis Raceway Park in both the Big Bud Shootout and the U.S. Nationals) that it takes three or four wins in your mind to make up for it. (Besides), the winter is a lot more pleasant when you go into it on an upswing." Despite the problems at Indy, Force has enjoyed another remarkable season, one in which he has won at least 10 races for the fourth time in his career. Only one other driver in history has won as many as 10 NHRA tour events in one season and Pro Stock driver Darrell Alderman did so only once. Among those 10 victories was dominating performance in last spring's O'Reilly Nationals at HRP in which he qualified No. 1 at 4.798 seconds and then set the NHRA national record at 4.788 seconds on the way to a final round victory over his pro. Sunday, he'll try to become the first pro driver to win both Houston events in one year.
Matco SuperNationals Oct. 29-31, 1999 Houston Raceway Park Baytown, Texas
Houston starts: 14 Times No. 1 qualifier: 5 (1990, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1999 O'Reilly Nationals) Final round appearances: 6 Event wins: 5 (1990, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999 O'Reilly Nationals) Won-Lost Record: 33-9 Best performances at the HRP: 4.788 seconds, April 11, 1999 321.88 mph, April 9, 1999
DID YOU KNOW: John has qualified for 228 consecutive events dating back to the 1987 Winston Finals at Pomona, Calif....John has won at least one NHRA event for 13 consecutive seasons and has won three or more races for eight straight years, a record unparalleled in the sport....John officially has broken the 4.80 second barrier five times at four different racetracks (Texas Motorplex, Houston Raceway Park, Gainesville Raceway and Heartland Park-Topeka) but has broken it twice only at HRP....John is only the second driver, after Bob Glidden (85), to win 80 races in his career.