‘The First Family of Drag Racing’ has heritage

It is a family affair when it comes to John Force Racing. Many families spend time around the television, walking in the woods or going out for dinner.

This picture will not describe the atmosphere with the Force family. His family has been dubbed “The First Family of Drag Racing.” John, a 16-time NHRA Funny Car Champion, is the head of the family with three daughters who compete in the nitro class level of the NHRA.

John Force began his funny car racing career in 1978. He is known for his outspoken rants with the media and competitive tenacity with funny car greats Don “The Snake” Prudomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen. All three of these drivers have made their mark in the realm of funny car drag racing. But Force has placed his name above all others in drag racing, except for “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. Garlits is best known for his accomplishments in top fuel dragster history.

Force gained the nickname of “Brute Force” after winning his 10th straight NHRA funny car title in 2002. His record of 10 straight titles goes unrivaled in any sport, as no other individual or team has accomplished the same feat.

He has paved the way for many drivers with his company over the years. Some of the names with wins and championships are Tony Pedregon, Gary Densham, and Eric Medlen and his son-in-law Robert Hight. Hight is married to Adria Force. She is the chief financial officer at John Force Racing and Robert is president of the company.

Force has seen many changes in the sport. Technology and safety have been one of the key elements his company has help develop in the sport. Medlen, one of his former drivers, was killed in a 2007 crash at the O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals in Texas. Medlen’s father John, who was both his son’s car and crew chief, vowed to help develop safer equipment and cars for today’s competitors. JFR is using several safety items and car designs due to Eric’s tragedy.

The start of the 2010 season saw Force celebrate 25 years with the same sponsor, as well as 34 years in the NHRA. One of the top crew chiefs in drag racing, Austin Coil, resigned from the team due to differences in team goals and payroll. Castrol Oil has been the primary sponsor for JFR, but in 2014 that will end as the company will venture in a new direction in its marketing strategy. Force will no longer be driving a Ford Mustang. Ford has seen Force power his way to 16 championships with its product.

Force has seen his three daughters build their own success in the sport. Ashley Force Hood was the first daughter to win a Wally Trophy in a funny car. Hood announced this year that due to starting a family, she has retired from competition. Her younger sister Courtney took over the driving duties in her funny car. JFR added a twist to the team this year when Brittany, youngest of the Force driving daughters, joined the Top Fuel car ranks.

Force has built a legendary company, history and family that will see its heritage be carried well into the future.

Contact Eddie Thomas at ethomas@newsandsentinel.com