It’s been a beautiful day for racing at Pomona, where the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series begins and ends each season. The skies are clear, the temperatures are moderate and all the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock racers are finally getting a chance to see whether their off-season manipulations and adjustments to rules changes are working in true competition.
While it was a good day for top qualifiers Clay Millican in Top Fuel, Jack Beckman in Funny Car and Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, this wasn’t the type of day John Force, patriarch of John Force Racing and 16-time Funny Car driver needed or wanted.
His first pass was in the mid-four-second range and his second ended against the left lane’s wall, after a massive engine explosion at about the 800-foot mark. Force’s Peak Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS lost its body in the incident and his car slammed the wall hard.
Only fragments of the body remained after the hit. The 147-race winner was helped from his car after several minutes and walked unassisted to a waiting ambulance.
For safety precautions and to conduct concussion protocol, the 68-year-old Force was transported to a local hospital. He was speaking with medical personnel and was conducting phone conversations.
Updates will be posted on John Force’s condition.
Update at 11:30 a.m. 2/11/18:
John Force was released from the hospital during Friday night’s dinner hours and returned to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to speak with his crew during that early evening.
The car that was damaged has been replaced by the team and Force will use his backup for the balance of the race weekend. John Force Racing travels with two cars for each of their four drivers: John, Brittany and Courtney Force, and Robert Hight. There is a third, just-in-case chassis in one of the team’s many trailers. “I hope we never have to pull that one out,” said one crew member.