John Force is always excited about something. This winter he’s got plenty to keep him talking, thanks to his team’s 19th and 20th NHRA Mello Yello championships. 2017 will be marked as the year his third daughter, Brittany Force, achieved her initial Top Fuel championship on the final day of the 24-race season; son-in-law and John Force Racing president Robert Hight earned his second Funny Car title, also on the final day of the Auto Club Finals on Auto Club Raceway at Pomona’s dragstrip.
It wasn’t the greatest professional year for the 16-time Funny Car champion and 148-race flopper national event winner, who earned a single No. 1 qualifier and Wally winner’s trophy in March at the Amalie Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., giving NHRA’s winningest racer a seventh-place result for the year. But that didn’t matter as much as the wins earned by Brittany Force and Robert Hight, even as daughter Courtney Force finished third in the championship without taking home a single trophy.
Force’s joy couldn’t be diminished. When he realigned with Chevrolet, the boisterous Californian told the company he “could turn it around again. I’m tickled pink to be a champion, as part of this championship team with Robert winning and with my daughter Brittany. It’s amazing what took place,” he said.
Still, John Force simply “can’t get off this train. I love it. I’ve lived for racing. I’m still living it and it’s all I know,” he said. “Everyone, our crew guys and all, went on vacation after the Finals. Robert and I went back to work. I love it – I love racing and now I get to be with my kids and do it – and my granddaughter, well, she’s driving junior dragsters,” he said of Hight’s daughter Autumn, a regular in all Force family pits.
When both Brittany and Robert secured their championships, it was almost more than the veteran could take. “I was on straight nitro; I was on straight adrenaline; I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to do a burnout to the lights. I had always dreamed of doing those big ol’ smoky burnouts, so I gave it a pretty good one, got after it pretty good. Then I realized it’s time to get my focus and win for Peak. I wasn’t able to get the job done, but at the end of the day John Force Racing ended up with 20 championships. Pretty dang good day,” he said.
When both Ford and Castrol elected to leave professional NHRA drag racing and John Force Racing, it left a financial hole from which most racers could never recuperate. For John Force, it was just another challenge for a man who’s battled for everything he’s got. Peak, the primary on John’s car, was already part of his cadre of partnerships when the other two left. “They stepped up and bought half a season to see where it would go,” he explained.
“Old World Industries (Peak’s parent company) have tons of brands. They know I understand that business, how to sell to the store chains and they know I know how to promote them and be there.” Force’s work ethic is legendary, his willingness to promote equally so. “They gave me an opportunity and I’ve got to win them championships. The 2018 season will be a very good year for John Force Racing,” he predicted.