At 75, Drag Racing’s Biggest Winner Still a Topic in the Funny Car Conversation

Source: Gary Nastase/Auto Imagery

With a win and a runner-up to his credit already this season, 16-time NHRA World Champion John Force sends his PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS back to work this week at New England Dragway where he once more will try to turn back time in the 11th running of the NHRA New England Nationals.

In his 48th season on the NHRA tour and just a month after celebrating his 75th birthday, drag racing’s all-time biggest winner finds himself in third place in the Mission Foods Funny Car driver standings, 36 points behind John Force Racing teammate Austin Prock and the AAA Camaro, and 50 behind Matt Hagan, to whom he finished runner-up, at the previous race in Chicago. 

“I’m always excited going back to Epping,” Force said. “I’ve been there a lot of years and have won the race a couple times. It’s got a great market where we draw fans from Boston, Canada, and everywhere, but it’s a tricky racetrack, depending on whether it’s hot or cool. 

“The crew chiefs really have their jobs cut out for them,” he said. “Right now, my car is running very consistently. Prock’s car, with AAA, is doing the same. So, we’re both in the hunt for the championship. We’ve got our work cut out for us and it’s going to be tough, but for this PEAK team, it also feels nice to be coming off of a runner-up finish two weeks ago.”

The one-time Driver of the Year for all of American motor sports (1996) and the first drag racer ever so honored, Force this week is within reach of first place in driver points for the first time since 2021 which, notably, was the last time he won on the New England Dragway concrete.

The only Funny Car driver other than Hagan to have won more than once at Epping, Force lost last year’s final to Bob Tasca III although, technically, the defeat occurred at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee, the track to which the final rounds were moved after rain prevented completion of the event in New Hampshire.

In addition to his own New England success, the 156-time tour winner also benefits from the past success of crew chief Dan Hood, who won the inaugural New England Nationals as crew chief to John’s youngest daughter, Courtney, now the wife of Indy Car driver Graham Rahal.


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