With as much experience as NHRA Funny Car legend John Force has accumulated over the years, nothing is surprising to the Hall of Fame racer.
But each championship he’s won still makes Force just as giddy as his first title in the 1990-91 season, just maybe now for different reasons.
Force clinched his unrivaled 16th Funny Car World Championship this past weekend at Las Vegas, finishing up the year strong by winning three of the final four races, including making the finals in each of those four.
“Fans had signs with ‘Sweet 16’ on them and I don’t know if I liked that or not at my age, but I felt 16, I felt like a kid again,” Force said with a chuckle.
After downing Gary Densham, Del Worsham, and Alexis DeJoria, Force took on his daughter, Courtney in the finals.
Winning by the narrowest of margins, 4.062 to Courtney’s 4.085, Force’s victory, and its implications, truly came by surprise.
“When I get out of the car they told me they wanted me in a different spot and… I didn’t understand where was the interview we always do and they led me to the podium then it kind of hit me; ‘Is this for winning the race or the championship?’ because they didn’t want to tell me,” Force said.
Downing Courtney for the win and championship was bittersweet for the father of three girls that all are, or have raced, on the NHRA tour. But make no mistake, they all want to win, even if that means beating a family member.
“All my girls have a different way (of expressing their emotions),” Force said. “Courtney, we fight when we go to the movies. I get in and try to put salt on my popcorn, she’ll take it away from me. Everyday with her is a fight and I love her with all of my heart. If Ashley and Brittany teamed up against me, the two of them together are never the headache Courtney’s been since she was a baby and winning is all she does.”
Force said he wanted to close out the championship run at Las Vegas and “didn’t want to take any chances as I’m trying to sell corporate America.”
In 2015, Ford Motor Co. and Castrol’s business association with John Force Racing will split as the pair had said they would move on for various reasons. According to Force, they make up 60 percent of the team’s budget.
“I needed to deliver and show them that I can win,” Force said. “My wife made the statement that I was sitting there upset over the loss of Ford and Castrol. I want to make it clear, they have been great to me. I want to try to win again next year, but I need to find new partners… and I needed that championship as part of it.”
For those who thought the 64-year-old may becoming too old to maintain the level of competition he’s been at the forefront of for so many years, Force isn’t done just yet. In fact, there’s a lot more Force’s tank as he continues to reinvent himself and lifestyle to stay at the top of his game.