Schumacher Vs Force Kicks NHRA Rivalry Up a Notch


What started as a sociable gesture at the starting line in Friday’s NHRA Winternationals– a normal handshake from team owner, John Force, to fellow competitor, Don Schumacher–has turned out to be the first salvo in a battle that had been brewing between the two racing organizations since the last win light at Pomona.

Schumacher’s avoidance to return his notion offering just a shrug spoke volumes and although he acknowledged Force walking beside him, he wasn’t about to be cordial to his long-time rival and nemesis.

It was rooted at the end of last season when crew chief, Jimmy Prock left Don Schumacher Racing returning to John Force Racing and it came as a shock to Schumacher, who suddenly had to find a replacement crew chief for his Jack Beckman Dodge Funny Car.  As a package, it was Prock, Chris Cunningham, and long-time crew chief, John Medlen heading to Force with Medlen changing in midstream returning back to DSR to join Guido Antonelli and Neal Strausbaugh to head up the Infinite Hero racing program for 2017.

2015_Don_Schumacher_Head[1]With the season quickly approaching with testing on the horizon all these positions were quickly filled but the juggling that Schumacher had to go through wasn’t expected bringing the bitterness between the two major NHRA car owners to a hilt.

From the FOX broadcast, interviewed by Amada Busick, Force stated when questioned about Schumacher’s cold shoulder said, “I’m not going to stand here and throw mud.  I’m a drag racer, that’s what I do.  I tried to say, hi, that’s all.   I was trying to do that and I was a little surprised (when he didn’t shake Force’s hand).  I tried to shake his hand and it was, ‘whoa’ that really surprised me.  Is that how’s it works?

“I had just complimented him just 15 minutes before and I know I’m a high-energy, overkill, yelling, screaming guy, but I’m excited about what we do and what my kids do and my sponsors that are here with me.  I don’t have his kind of money.  Without my sponsors, I’m done, I’m finished and I’ve worked my butt off to stay in business.

“Then you think, I’m gonna stand on the starting line, even to a billionaire, and take an ass chewing?  No, I’m not.  He doesn’t know who I am.  Maybe I don’t know who he is.  But I was a little surprised and I’m going to try again.  Don doesn’t know it, but we’re going to be friends one day.  We already say ‘hi’ in racing, but maybe go fishing sometime.  It really surprised me, the things that he said and I’m not going to repeat them.  I want to hear him say them again.  I want to understand it.  He told me, this ain’t personal this is all about winning.  To me, it’s all about family, but it’s all about winning.  I can give the man a chance.  I don’t walk in another man’s shoes.  Maybe, I caught him at a bad time.  I’m amazed, just bring the sh*t on!”

Schumacher v Force
Force and Schumacher take their friendly rivalry up a notch.


Schumacher was quick to point out saying, “We have a tremendous rivalry going and what happened over the winter just intensified that rivalry,” said Schumacher.  “That’s where it’s at.  I have the highest desire to go out and beat John Force and John Force’s teams every time we pull up into the starting line and that’s the way it’s going to be.

“We discussed crew chiefs moving around.  I am not pleased with John overpaying people to move people around (for his benefit).  It’s destroying the sport.  You can’t get sponsors to pay the kind of funds that are necessary to complete in a financial world that John is overpaying people, plain and simple, he’s destroying the sport.”

The two rivals talk about the incident in the video below:

The next bout for these two NHRA teams continues on February 24-26 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals being held at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.

About Jay Wells 321 Articles
Jay Wells, 61, is a veteran motorsports public relations and marketing official. He spent 33 years at the track working with NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA, and NHRA series' before retiring in 2009. He began writing for in September of 2013 covering the NHRA and NASCAR circuits with post race coverage along with feature and breaking news stories. Wells resides in Mooresville, North Carolina. Follow Wells on Twitter @ jaywells500.

8 Comments on Schumacher Vs Force Kicks NHRA Rivalry Up a Notch

  1. Even on His worst day John force has the ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat and put you in the trailer that is why I have total respect and admiration for John Force and his entire team you stay in drag racing as long as he has for nothing you shouldn’t TRY to play hard ball when John Force is the umpire

  2. If money can’t buy it Schumacher don’t have it , John Force on the other hand has earned what he has the hard way … Business is business, Schumacher best be ready, Force is coming and it won’t be pretty … I lost a lot of respect for Schumacher over this, but gained a bunch for Force by the way he responded ..

  3. I met John many years ago in my fathers shop when I was making heads you just gotta respect that man hes a straight shooter, no bull business man, better to ask Don what is overpaid anyway.
    Don’s Advance Auto Parts Discount card may be the only break he gets all year.
    Like Trump John can be bigger then life he’s always a Force to be reckoned with and never to big for his fans.
    I have met many who built the sport in my 50 odd years can’t say I have ever met Mr Schumacher o-well.

  4. Schumacher is an overbearing a-hole. It’s guys like him that have ruined the sport for the less fortunate. John races because he loves the sport. I believe if he couldn’t race the way he does now you would find him at some little track on Saturday night. The man loves the competition. I’ts a tax wright off for Shumacher.

    • What does Schumacher mean by saying force is over paying crew chiefs? Do you honestly believe a crew chief would join a losing team just for money? If so, they would get a bad reputation by not winning, and not winning comes a basic pay check. So Mr Schumacher, that theory is lost. Question 2, what is over paying? maybe he was under paid? You cheap billy goat. next is your girlfriend to join the Force Team, John has a bigger dragster.

  5. Once upon a time I was a Force fan, however I lost all respect for the man the moment he took an intentional dive so Hight could advance to the countdown. Hard to say he loves the sport when you cheat to win, at least DSR does race heads up, and as far as I know have never had team orders.

    • You obviously didn’t watch the 2014 finals when DSR racing did the same for Hagan. Hagon 4.081 to Capps 6.801 then Hagan 4.065 to TJJ 6.184. By the way both Tj and Capps ran 4.0’s the previous round. I guess they forgot how to tune the car between rounds.

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