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September 4, 2012

John Force Racing car show returns with a bang

BROWNSBURG — Mother Nature was the only victor at this weekend’s U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park, but she stayed away from one of the rites of the end of summer here: the John Force Racing Summer Car Show.

The popular show typically brings about 10,000 visitors to the John Force Racing complex here. Some came three hours in advance to stand in line for autographs from the team’s drivers, some came to tour the garage and the Eric Medlen Museum, and some came to participate in the car show.

The annual show is about the only time race fans can see the guts of the garage, but it’s also special for the drivers as they gear up for what they call the Super Bowl of racing: the U.S. Nationals.

Nationals were rained out last weekend, but have been moved to this weekend.

“It’s a community deal here in Brownsburg,” John Force said. “But they come in from out of the country. But it’s fun for us because fans are what we do. They’re our lifeline.”

Driver Robert Hight said the event has special meaning to many fans.

“We have people come here each year just to see the Eric Medlen Project,” he said. “Every Sunday night they have a get together around his statue and his dad lives here. People bring things that remind us of Eric every year and you get to see his museum above our store. That’s what really stands out to me.”

The team’s devotion to their fallen friend, who died in a crash in 2007, is evident throughout the day. Fans packed the museum, which is adorned with photos of Medlen that fans have sent in over the years. His famous quote — “You can never be sad when you’re eating ice cream” — hangs above an office in the museum.

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