John Force is a name in the racing industry that is associated with success, determination, and a passion for the sport of drag racing. Not only does he own John Force Racing, but he is also a seventeen time champion car owner and has won no less than fifteen championships as a driver in the Funny Car division. With more than a hundred and thirty victories, John Force has proven his worth in the racing industry and continues to do so without any thought of retiring.
After a very serious accident in the year 2007, many of his fans and close friends did not think he would return to driving. Not only has he managed to return to driving, he has gone on to win more championships and has been motivated to begin a campaign to ensure the safety of drivers. The Medlen Project, named after the late Eric Medlin, was created by Force and his wife, and they were the pioneers in three rail chassis and improved housing tubes to create safety awareness for drag racers.
This past weekend, at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, which was held at the Royal Purple Raceway, John Force once again showed the racing community that he is still at the top of his game as a drag racer at the age of sixty-one. And make no mistake; he has no thoughts about slowing down either, only plans for the future. Even though he has set many records and won many trophies, Force maintains that he focuses on the driving and not the awards to keep his head in the game..
Force now drives for Hood, and has managed to qualify in first position for three consecutive events. John Force qualified with a time of 4.097 seconds and a speed of 310.27 miles per hour, while his John Force Racing team was not doing badly themselves with a time of 4.131 seconds and a speed of 293.44 miles per hour. In regard to race day, John Force commented: “We are just going to come out here tomorrow and hope we have a beautiful day. We hope we pack the stands. That is what this is all about. We want to entertain the fans. You have war, tornados and the economy we just want to entertain the folks tomorrow. Somebody will get a Wally tomorrow and they will go home. Maybe it will be this old man.”
Since opening in 1989, Heartland Park Topeka has become a popular racing event venue, with its dragstrip hitting the headlines with record-breaking performances. One of the more noteworthy of these achievements being the 1993 shattering of the quarter mile four-second and 300-mph barriers in Funny Car.
Dates: 20-22 May 2011
Venue: Heartland Park Topeka
Country: United States of America
The acronym NHRA stands for National Hot Rod Association, the governing body for drag racing in the USA that both establishes regulations and organizes events across the country. The NHRA also seeks to promote drag racing and increase the sport’s popularity with fans while retaining sponsors for events and participants.
Founded in 1951 in California by Wally Parks, the NHRA saw as its prime mandate the need to get Hot Rodders off the streets and onto legal drag strips where safety for both racers and the general public could be ensured. Today, the NHRA is the largest drag racing authority in the world, with 300 employees, 80,000 members and 35,000 licensed competitors. The NHRA has over 140 member tracks throughout North America.
The most prestigious NHRA drag racing event in North America is the U.S. Nationals that are held bi-annually in summer and winter. This popular drag racing competition is held at the Indianapolis Raceway Park, home of the legendary Indy 500. The NHRA also stages the PowerAde Drag Racing Series. This series is made up of four classes: Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Top Fuel Dragster and Top Fuel Funny Car. Other sportsman classes are held for amateur, or “Sunday” racers, who would like to compete.
The NHRA supports many special educational initiatives such as the Youth and Education Services program and the Street Legal program. NHRA events attract thousands of loyal fans, and members are enthusiastic about their chosen sport. Schedules for upcoming NHRA events can be found in newspapers, racing magazines and online.
When most people think of drag racing, Top Fuel dragsters are what commonly come to mind. With their huge rear tires, long bodies, spindly front wheels and flame-belching engines, Top Fuel drag racing is one of the most distinctive types of auto racing. Both NHRA sanctioned Top Fuel categories feature cars that exceed 325 miles per hour and can run the quarter mile in under 5 seconds. Now that’s fast! These awesome dragsters are fueled with a potent mixture of 85% Nitro methane and 15% Methanol.
In practice, pairs of drag racers compete against each other to cover a set distance in the briefest amount of time. The track on which the race takes place is straight and level. The distances covered are usually a quarter mile or an eighth of a mile. The race begins from a stationary positionl and thus requires very powerful engines to cover that short distance in the fastest time. The start is crucial, as a mere split second delay is often enough to lose a close race. Both drivers stare intently as yellow lights flash on a “Christmas Tree”, down to the very last pair that are green. When the green lights flash, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. The cars shoot down the track as if they were launched from catapults, often releasing a parachute to help them brake once they cross the finish line.
There are approximately 325 drag strips operating throughout the world at any given time. Associations such as the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) and the NHRA in the United States have been set up to monitor the sport. Professional drag racing has safety standards, rules and regulations that apply equally to all participants to keep things fair and to promote good sportsmanship.
Drag racing has always been a colorful sport, and that doesn’t just apply to the “Fuelies” and Funny Cars. Drivers with larger than life personalities have dominated the sport and become legends in their own time. Don “Big Daddy” Garlits and Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney are two of the most famous Top Fuel dragster drivers of all time, while the names of Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and 13-time champion John Force are synonymous with the sport of Funny Car racing.
A number of NHRA POWERade Series world champions were crowned at the official awards ceremony at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City in California earlier this week. The most notable winner was Tony Schumacher who enjoyed his fifth consecutive trip to the stage to pick up his championship trophy.
Tony Schumacher has certainly become the guy to beat when it comes to the NHRA Top Fuel world championship. In accepting his fifth consecutive Top Fuel championship trophy, he became the first Top Fuel driver in the history of the NHRA to enjoy five consecutive wins. Schumacher has six titles overall and managed to pilot his Alan-Johnson-tuned U.S. Army dragster to 15 victories during the course of the season – another record! His unprecedented skill behind the wheel, good team and great vehicles all combined to ensure that Schumacher dominated the 7,000 horsepower category from beginning to end. Schumacher also picked up a check for $500,000, which was presented by the NHRA and POWERade, when he received his newest trophy.
But Schumacher wasn’t the only person at the ceremony to receive an award – Cruz Pedregon, Eddie Krawiec and Jeg Coughlin were also at the ceremony on Monday, November 17, to pick up their prizes. Cruz Pedregon was there to pick up his second Funny Car series crown. He last received the honor in 1992 and since seemed to have always run out of luck during the course of the season. This year he managed to take his Rahn Tobler-tuned Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara to the head of the pack in the final three races of the season, which ultimately saw him taking home the winner’s trophy. He also received $500,000 from NHRA and POWERade.
Coughlin was at the ceremony to receive the Pro Stock World Championship title. Coughlin is also not a newcomer to the stage, as this was his second consecutive win and his fourth win overall. His Jegs.com Chevy Cobalt enjoyed a critical win in Las Vegas that went a long way to giving him the title. He received a check of $250,000 from NHRA and POWERade. Krawiec was the NHRA POWERade Series Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion of 2008. It seems that fortune favored Krawiece and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson this year as he became the second driver in the history of the NHRA to win a series title without actually winning a race during the season. He was gifted $75,000 from NHRA and POWERade.
Mike Neff was given the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, while the U.S. Army Top Fuel team, the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car team, the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Pro Stock team and the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Prot Stock Motorcycle team all got the NHRA Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge season award. Chevrolet accepted the NHRA Manufacturers Cup for their seventeenth time while Don Schumacher, Cruz Pedregon and Victor Cagnazzi were given NHRA Pro Owner’s Cups. The late Scott Kalitta was also given a video tribute.