BROWNSBURG — In spite of owning a race team for more than three decades, John Force has a lot of new oars in the water, including his daughter being in the team’s first ever Top Fuel dragster, and he hopes it’s a year of expansion here in town.
“We have had to do some expansion there in Brownsburg,” Force said. “I invested heavily back into my shop. We expanded our paint shops, doubled them in size. We want to expand our business. I just made the purchase of five acres of (Don) Prudhomme’s land across the street and I have the option by June or July to buy another five acres.”
Though Force said he loves California, which has been the site of his headquarters, he said the economy and cost of living have made it impossible for young race teams and employees to stay out there. Therefore, aside from his corporate office, his entire operation will be coming to Hendricks County.
“I need to build on that front lot (across from the JFR building) because when you have an empty lot out in the opening, it looks like things aren’t growing,” he said. “(The town of Brownsburg and I) almost had a deal put together, but I’m going to go back to them in the next month. Brownsburg is willing to work with me.”
Brownsburg Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz said Force’s expansion can only be seen as a positive for the town.
“Any time someone’s going to add jobs and build buildings, it’s a good thing,” Kleinhenz said. “It’s a positive to having someone like John here.”
Force said he hopes to help bring more industry to the area, which will in turn bring additional employment opportunities locally.
“I need Prudhomme’s land so we can grow,” he said. “The whole idea is bringing more businesses. I have all the support of the racers. Brownsburg’s got really good people. The whole idea is bringing in more workers, more businesses, people interested in rentals. We have a ways to go.”
Meanwhile, on the track, Force is set to see his daughter Brittany, who spent some time away from racing while earning her college degree, jump into uncharted waters for the team in the new Castrol Edge Top Fuel Dragster.
“That was always my plan,” Brittany said of obtaining a college degree. “If I did (school) halfway or I knew if I stepped away from it, I’d never go back to it. So I wanted to graduate and then go racing.”
Brittany says the early returns on driving the car are very different than anything she’s previously experienced.
“It was so much faster,” she said. “When you leave from the starting line, it’d just throw you back in your seat and pull you all the way down the track. My whole routine is different now. I have to really pick up the pace. You have to do it so much faster. But over time, everything slowed down and I became used to it.
“That’s the great thing about this sport. We all love it. We all have the same passion for it. I’ve been out at the track forever so a lot of these people I’ve known. A bunch of people saw me testing in the Top Fuel cars and they’ve been so great, giving me pointers, giving me tips, and I’m excited.”
John said he was proud of his daughter.
“They’ve been testing all year and she’s done well,” he said. “It’s a completely different animal.”
Additionally, Mike Neff will no longer drive for the JFR team, as he will return to the tuner’s role on Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.