TAYLOR: The Legend of Force Reaches 16
On a Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas a 64 year old former truck driver who once lived in a trailer in California climbed into his NHRA Funny Car in the final round of the NHRA Toyota Nationals.
The man knew if he won the race he would win the Funny Car championship for the 16th time and prove once again that he still has the reaction time and skill necessary to drive a Funny Car better than anyone else on the planet. In the next lane, in a car the man owned, his 25 year old daughter lined up to try and take down pops. She didn’t – sweet 16 and another addition to the storybook of Force.
This is the legend of John Force. As the man will tell you, he has been on fire from here to Australia, survived near death experiences, and at 64 he ain’t dead yet. John Force will tell you a lot of things. Put a microphone or camera in front of the man and you’ll quickly realize he is not only entertaining and loud, he is probably only a few apples short of being a complete fruit basket.
This man is special and something about him resonates with race fans. Often in auto racing fans do not like the people who win all the time – they get labeled as bland, arrogant or just unmemorable. John Force is none of these things. Go to an NHRA event and the 16-time champion is always the toast of the grandstand along with his racing daughters Courtney and Brittany.
Perhaps Force’s best comparison is that to NASCAR’s king Richard Petty, a man who has always had the respect the fans and massive popularity despite winning a lot. Like Petty, Force will mingle and sign for fans until his arm falls off, but their personalities could not be more different.
The legend of John Force rests within his personality. People want to be entertained and they want to see passion and Force provides both of these in spades. People also want to see an underdog story. Force was the ultimate underdog when he started, as for years he could barely win a round of racing let alone a championship.
He never quit or gave up and his persistence paid off. There is no quit in John Force – proved once again after his near fatal wreck in Dallas a few years ago. Now a grandfather in his mid-60’s, many would think after claiming another title and facing sponsorship issues after longtime partners Ford and Castrol announced they were pulling out of the sport after 2014, that Force would perhaps call it quits and enjoy being a grandfather. It seems logical but if one knows John Force, they know that won’t happen.
John Force is drag racing. The man lives, eats and breathes it 24/7. His passion is such that it often drives those closest to him completely insane. John Force belongs at the drag strip and he will continue to try and race, most likely, until he kicks the bucket.
There is not only no quit in the man, there is no other feasible option in his mind. To quit racing is to quit life. John Force is not about quitting, he is about winning and living the American dream in his own unique and crazy way. Through all the struggles and hardships and the many successes, John Force has kept his passion for racing and the wild personality that endears him to the race fans. With daughters Ashley, Brittany and Courtney all achieving success in the sport, the Force legend will endure for years after John is gone.
But for now the 64-year-old crazy grandpa is still on top of the heap. So let us continue to enjoy the success of the legend.