Force, Schumacher share little except uncommon racing success. JOLIET, Ill. They were featured the last two months on successive covers of RACER Magazine. For most of the summer, they were 1-2 in ESPN's motor sports power index. Over the last...
Force, Schumacher share little except uncommon racing success.
JOLIET, Ill. They were featured the last two months on successive covers of RACER Magazine. For most of the summer, they were 1-2 in ESPN's motor sports power index. Over the last 40 years, they have dominated their respective motor racing disciplines like no one before them.
That, however, is where the similarity ends between John Force, the 11-time NHRA drag racing champion and Michael Schumacher, the five-time reigning Formula 1 champion.
The most glaring difference will be exposed this weekend (Sept. 27-29) when Force drives his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals at Route 66 Raceway while, just 185 miles away, Schumacher climbs behind the wheel of a hybrid Ferrari seeking his 11th win of the current Grand Prix season.
Although he is a German driver racing an Italian vehicle, Schumacher will not be able to escape the glare of the media spotlight at the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Force, on the other hand, will race in relative obscurity even though he is bidding for a record 105th tour victory while trying to fend off Castrol SYNTEC teammate Tony Pedregon in an ongoing bid for an unprecedented 10th consecutive series championship.
The media fascination with Schumacher and the Grand Prix circuit is puzzling to Force who, nevertheless, is impressed with the fact that a race car driver of any kind can command a salary that reportedly is $30-40 million per year even before endorsements.
Force's take home pay from drag racing is considerably less although, based on actual racing miles, the two compensation packages are probably closer than one would think.
Force, after all, averages about 17 competitive miles per season, a quarter mile at a time. Schumacher, by contrast, likely will complete more than 3,220 miles by the end of the 17-race Grand Prix season, which began in Australia and concludes Nov. 13 in Japan.
For the German, that would work out to just about $12,406 per mile, figured against a $40 million base. At the same figure, Force would take down right at $210,000, just about what he earned last year for six tour victories.
Regardless, drag racing's biggest winner knows that while he and Schumacher both were finalists for ESPN's "Driver of the Year" ESPY this year, they are measured on a different scale.
Schumacher is the darling of the wine-and-cheese set; Force the ultimate blue collar hero. Schumacher's Ferrari is all about finesse and sophistication; Force's Ford is the epitomy of brute horsepower.
"Primeval" is one of the words used Grand Prix Editor Nigel Roebuck to describe a drag racing Funny Car to the readers of Autosport. "Last week, at Route 66, in Joliet, Illinois," Roebuck wrote after attending the June race as a guest of Ford Motor Company, "I was exposed for the first time to NHRA drag racing, and I have since had cause to reassess the phrase 'high performance.'
"Suffice to say that for sheer drama nothing I have ever seen in motorsport has impressed me (more)."
That point made, Roebuck, like most other motorsports beat writers, will spend the weekend following Schumacher around the 11-turn course at IRP. If he listens real close, though, he can probably hear the sound of real power just up the Interstate.
<pre> John Force vs. Michael Schumacher Tale of Two Champions
Nationality: German American Age: 33 53 Series: Grand Prix NHRA POWERade Class: Formula 1 Funny Car Races: 177 369 Poles: 48 111 Pole percentage: 27.1% 30.1% Wins: 63 104 Win percentage: 35.6% 28.2% Championships: 5 (1994-95, 2000-2002) 11 (1990-91, 1993-2001) Racing miles, season: 3,224 (maximum) 17 (average)
Records: Most career victories Most career victories Most championships* Most championships Most wins, season (10) Most wins, season (13)
*Tied with Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, 1954-57)
Schumacher's Ferrari Force's Castrol GTX Ford
Weight 1,323 pounds 2,325 pounds Length 176.9 inches 240 inches Height 37.75 inches 60 inches Width 70.87 inches 72 inches Track 57.8" front/55.3" rear 46" front/43" rear Engine Aluminum 3 litre V-10 Aluminum 8.2 litre V-8 Horsepower 850 7,000 Fuel Low lead gasoline Nitromethane and methanol Transmission 7 forward gears plus reverse High gear only plus reverse Top racing speed 220 mph 325 mph