YORBA LINDA, Calif. — John Force grew up in a trailer home with his five brothers and sisters. His dad was a truck driver. John Force tried that for a little while himself. He also says he cooked at most every fast food restaurant going, except McDonald's. But, his primary goal was to get away from that trailer. So, he says, "Racing was all I ever did in the beginning to have freedom, to get in my car, turn on Elvis or the Beach Boys or Willie Nelson."
That freedom has opened the doors do one sensational career of drag racing. Force and the NHRA circuit's next stop is at the Virginia Motorsports Park south of Petersburg this coming weekend. It's the Virginia NHRA Nationals.
In case you're wondering what it would be like to go watch those drag racers, Force gives an explanation, "The smell of nitro, the flames and smoke belching out of the pipes. It's P.T. Barnum. It's the greatest show on Earth."
Force is now 72 years old and still racing. He is still good enough that he won the last Funny Car event in Charlotte. It doesn't sound like he is slowing down, "I'm no spring chicken. I live in the gym. It may not look it. I got my weight down. I take my vitamins. I keep my brain sharp and I can drive that car on the reaction tree."
Force has won 16 NHRA Funny Car championships. Only "Big Daddy" Dan Garlits has won more titles. Force still has his sights set high, "I'm going to come back and win number 17. That's my goal or I wouldn't be here. When I quit dreaming about winning races or winning championships then there's no reason to do the job."
He would never think of what his legacy might be, until you might ask him the question like we did, "I know they keep trying to put me on a pedestal, I don't want to get there. Maybe in the very end when I'm done, I'll sit here and maybe say thank you, that was me. I'm not trying to "bulljive" you or be humble, I'm just trying to be real."