2013 NHRA FUNNY CAR
John Force had been competing in
NHRA Funny Car, on and off, for
nearly a decade and had suffered
nine final-round losses before he
finally took his first event win at
Montreal in 1987. It took another
three years before he cracked the
code on his first championship in
1990. Until 2002, Force won
every championship but one:
1992, when he held a strong early
points lead, but was relegated to
second as Cruz Pedregon won
five of the last six events.
WHEN THE FLOODGATES OPENED
The troughs have been deeper for John Force in recent years, but that makes the peaks even sweeter. The 16-time Funny Car champ puts his 2010 and ’ 13
titles among his five most special. Neither comes with as many wins as his period of domination from 1993 to 2002, but the field is much deeper now.
NeveR UNdeRestIMAte tHe FoRCe
988 1991 994 19971998 1989 1992 1995 1999 2002 005 2008 2012 000 2003 2006 2009 2013 2010 2001 2004 2007 2011
I don’t have the energy or my eyesight’s
bad or my reaction times go away, I’ll know.
[don] Prudhomme told me that. [tom]
Mcewen, too. they said you’ll wake up one
day, and it’ll just be over. I won’t milk it,
either. there won’t be any retirement tour,
any vacations. My whole life’s a vacation
because getting things done so I can keep
racing is my vacation from racing.”
At some point in the middle of the year,
getting things done so he can keep racing
consumed so much of Force’s time that
there wasn’t enough left for racing itself.
sitting on the edge of his bed one
morning before flying off to another race,
going on and on again about sponsors, he
was interrupted by his wife, Laurie.
“I was telling her, ‘Man, if we don’t get
this deal…’ and she said, ‘You always told
me that winning is the only thing that
matters, but now all you ever talk about is
money. You’ve always been about winning,
but you’re not winning, John. You just show
up at the track and get in the car. You don’t
even know what they’re doing to your car,
what’s going on. You’re sitting here, waiting
on that call, but if you don’t start winning
races, there won’t be anything to sell.’
“And she was right. sometimes I’d get
to the track just in time to warm the car
before we ran. A few times, Robert had to
get in it for me because I wasn’t around.
I wasn’t living it, and if you’re going to
win, winning has to be your only priority.”
Pushed to the background in recent
years as don schumacher Racing drivers
Matt Hagan (2011) and Jack Beckman
(2012) won championships, Force and
crew completed a redesign of their
chassis that eventually thrust them back
to the forefront. “don schumacher
Racing became John Force Racing for a
while there, didn’t they?” Force says.
“total domination. We couldn’t run early
numbers like the schumacher cars did.”
Force has an unnatural feel for a Funny
(ABOvE) After a woeful start, John Force
reset his priorities and was soon back in
contention. Switching Jimmy Prock (RiGHT,
in glasses) to his car was key to the shakeup.
“I’ve got to drive a racecar.
You quit doing what you do,
you die. Or you just stop
caring and get fat”
Car, but may be the least mechanically
inclined world champ in the history of the
sport, blissfully unaware of the particulars
of his setup at any given time.
“I’m no mechanic, but I know stuff, I
know when something’s different, and I
know when something’s not right,” he says.
“And I know that every time we leaned on
the car early in the season, it would smoke
the tires. We had two new chassis designs in
the shop, and one of them was showing
good early numbers, and we knew that if
we could ever get the car to run early, our
cars could outrun dsR on the top end.”
they did. Force and Prock, reassigned M a r c