By Gary P Jackson
After qualifying number one in Funny Car at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, on Saturday, Courtney Force talks with Wind Tunnel host Dave Despain, and Speed’s Formula 1 analyst Bob Varsha Sunday night.
Though there was qualifying scheduled for Sunday, as well as the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car, persistent rain kept anyone from turning a tire in competition. The fields in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle were set using times from the previous sessions. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout which Courtney will be a part of, will take place another day.
So far the weather looks good for final eliminations Monday.
Final eliminations kick off Monday morning with coverage starting at 11 am [Eastern] on Espn2.
Video courtesy SarahNet
USA Today had a great write-up on the entire Force family in the special Indy edition on Friday:
Drag racing is way of life for John Force, family
John Force almost lives at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Invariably, he connects through DFW during his incessant travels, and he knows every shop and restaurant in Terminals A and C. So regular are his visits, he knows the names of shoe shiners, bartenders and gate attendants.
“The bartender sees me and says, ‘Hey, John, you need a drink,’ ” Force says. “He saw the race on TV. He knows I need a drink.”
During one such trip in 1998, Force was reminded during a telephone conversation that it was daughter Courtney’s 10th birthday. Rushing to catch his next flight, Force stopped to buy a gift. He arrived home in Yorba Linda, Calif., with the gift still in the bag.
“I will never forget that birthday,” Courtney recalls. “It was a travel-sized hair dryer, still in the Hudson News bag. I was like, ‘You forgot my birthday!’ I was so mad at him, but I understood it later.
“That’s the only place he knew to shop. He was always on the road, and he didn’t know anything else.”
Force cringes through the laughter as the story is told. Courtney, his youngest of four daughters, now 24, and, just like her old man, is consumed by drag racing, just like her old man. Thus, she’s a regular at DFW, too. She’s living the life of a Force, and her dad couldn’t be more proud.
Force’s passion is a family affair — and so is success. Along with Courtney, daughters Adria, Ashley and Brittany are involved in their dad’s profession. Adria, 43, is chief financial officer of John Force Racing. Ashley, 29, is president of John Force Entertainment. Brittany, 26, makes her Top Fuel debut in 2013 under her father’s watchful eye.
“I missed a lot when they were growing up,” Force says. “They knew that if their dad won the race, they were going to Disneyland the next day. But if Dad lost, they knew he’d be on the phone in the middle of the night trying to find a way to make the car faster. You’ve got to live this thing seven days a week. It’s got to consume you.”
He pauses, taking a rare, split-second break in his machine-gun monologue.
“One day this old heart will give out,” he says, “and I want it to happen at a racetrack.”
Not the retiring type
Force is 63 and still racing. Sixty-three and still racing. That would be remarkable enough, but add this phrase — “at the top level of professional drag racing” — to the sentence, and his senior citizen achievements go from remarkable to astonishing. Few people race into their 50s, let alone 60s. Fewer still maintain top-level professional skills at that age.
Examples are few. Some include Mark Martin, who at 53 has two top-five finishes and four poles this year on NASCAR’s top circuit. Steve Kinser, 58, and Sammy Swindell, 56, are in the top four in the dirt track World of Outlaws.
As Force and his team, which includes Courtney, Robert Hight and Mike Neff, prepare for this weekend’s 58th NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, they do so as one of the most successful Funny Car outfits in the history of the event. John Force Racing has won the last four U.S. Nationals; overall, the team has won drag racing’s biggest event 10 times since 1993. Four of those victories belong to John Force himself.
Go beyond one event and focus on one driver, and the stats boggle the mind. Force has won 15 NHRA Funny Car championships and 134 events, more than any other driver. From 1993 to 2002, he won 10 consecutive championships. In 2010, three years after suffering devastating injuries in a crash, Force won his 15th title.
“I was taught as a kid that experience and age can’t be made up for,” says Hight, who is married to Adria. “A young kid thinks he’s tough and strong and cocky, but you can’t compete with experience. There is nobody who wants to win and be competitive more than John Force.
“Trust me, I have learned so much from him about what it takes to be a champion. It takes living this job 24/7. It consumes you, but that’s a good thing.”
Experienced, of course, but there’s a delightfully disheveled approach to that experience, as if it just happened. Comically manic, Force rattles one-liners like Rodney Dangerfield.
“My daughters talk like me and drive race cars like me, but they have their mother’s coolness.” … “If there’s an earthquake, old John Force runs into walls. I’m a wreck. I go right into punch mode.” … “I used to spend two hours a day in the bar, but now I spend two hours a day in the gym.”
Ashley Force Hood, who won the U.S. Nationals in 2009 and 2010 in Funny Car and is on hiatus from driving after having her first child last year, likens him to nature. Severe nature, the kind that needs a civil defense siren.
“He’s like a tornado,” she says. “He comes into a room, and everything blows off the desk. You need to clean up after him wherever he goes.”
That mayhem is part of the reason behind his success. Force is a perpetual motion machine, physically and mentally incapable of standing still. He fidgets constantly, thoughts racing, always ahead of himself. His mind, it has been said, is faster than his race car.
“He’s a very driven person,” Ashley says. “He’s not the type who can sit around and relax. He’s happy when he’s working and racing. I don’t care what age he gets to, I don’t see him as someone who would sit around and play golf. … He’d go crazy. This isn’t work to him. He loves drag racing. It’s his entire life. He’s been doing it since he was a kid. This is his passion, and that’s why we love him.”
“The last time I went fishing, I stuck a hook in my finger,” he says. “I’m not fishing ever again.”
Read much more here.
Mother Nature was Top Eliminator at this years Mac Tool U.S. Nationals. Just like the first Nationals in 1955, the race has been postponed. Unlike 1955, the location won’t change.
NHRA Senior Vice-President of Racing Operations, Graham Light said:
The persistent weather has affected the racing surface, and we have chosen to make the tough decision to postpone the race until next weekend. We are planning to run the remainder of the event next weekend on Saturday and Sunday
Honestly the racing surface was fine, it’s some areas of the pits and spectator parking that was a total washout, resembling a lake instead of a field. Had rain not stopped Monday’s activities, it’s doubtful fans, or even some of the sportsman racers, could have participated.
This will have championship implications, as qualifying will open back up, with the two Sunday sessions that were lost to rain, being held next Sunday. Several teams barely missed the cut, and thus had no chance to attempt to get into the Top 10 and race for the Full Throttle Championship. This is a bit of good luck for them.
Also, the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Care will also be held on Sunday.
Courtney is in the Shootout, and will be looking to hang on to the number one spot in the field.