John Force has a doctorate. No, he didn’t get his degree in laid-back headers, in 10,000-plus horsepower engines, in awe-inspiring burnouts or even in Christmas tree superiority. Rather, the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH, a great supporter of motorsports) bestowed an honorary doctorate of law on the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion in a special ceremony on the Lima, Ohio campus.
It was an emotional moment for the 68-year-old Force, team owner of John Force Racing, which scored its 19th and 20th championships in 2017 courtesy of Force’s daughter Brittany – who took her first Top Fuel crown – and son-in-law/team president Robert Hight, who earned his second Funny Car title.
The 148-race winner, who received an honorary Doctor of Law degree for his historic motorsports career and his dedication to racing safety, toured the UNOH campus and met with students in a variety of degree programs. He also spent time with students on the very successful UNOH motorsports team, joined by Brittany Force, Hight and daughter Courtney Force, who has won more Funny Car races than any other woman in NHRA history. All of Force’s daughters, Adria, Ashley, Brittany and Courtney, have college degrees.
“I never had this kind of opportunity,” Force admitted. “I learned on the race tracks and in the board rooms. I got an education at truck stops across the country,” he told students and faculty during the ceremony in his honor.
“I am honored to receive this doctorate, mainly because I saw the passion these UNOH students have for motorsports, as well as their other programs. They are really turning their passions into careers here. I could not be more impressed with what I saw around campus. I am excited to be Dr. Force.”
Force received his honorary degree from college president Dr. Jeffrey A. Jarvis during a special ceremony at the UNOH Event Center. “John Force is truly a wonderful role model and icon in the motorsports industry,” Jarvis said. “He is not only a championship driver, he embraces a love for the future of the sport which lies within many of our students today.”
Noting that John Force Racing has employed UNOH graduates for years, Jarvis added that “It was an easy decision to honor a man that has had such a large impact in the racing industry, business community and educational environment. We are thrilled to have John Force join the UNOH family.”
The University of Northwestern Ohio is the first higher learning institution to bestow an honorary degree to Force. He became the first drag racer recognized with a doctorate and the third motorsports standout, joining Richard Petty and Richard Childress in having received honorary doctorates. Childress received his doctorate from UNOH in 2013.