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DETROIT -- John Force has won 14 Funny Car championships as a driver and two more as strictly an owner. Since winning his first title in 1990 Force led teams have won sixteen championships in the past 20 seasons. That is a dynasty run unmatched in professional sports. Not even the Yankees (13 in 20), Canadians (11 in 20) or Celtics (13 in 20) can claim 16 titles in a 20-year span.
Usually winners on that grand scale enjoy a passionate following that is balanced by a passionate hatred by the opposition. In the case of John Force not only is he the most beloved figure in drag racing but he is the ambassador who has taken the sport to new heights.
Having just turned 61 this week, Force has shown no signs of slowing down. After winning only once in 2008 and 2009 while recovering from a horrific accident, Force is back on his game in 2010 having won three times and taking a commanding lead in the NHRA Funny Car championship. The emotional and spiritual leader of his team, Force has positioned his team and Ford for future success. His daughter Ashley and his son-in-law Robert are among the sports most popular and successful drivers and his youngest daughters Brittany and Courtney appear headed for the pro ranks.
Force was in Detroit this week for the 2010 Ford Dealer Intro Show and he took a few minutes to answer questions from Ford employees for @Ford.
Click here to watch John Force respond to some of your questions and read below to see how he responded to the rest of the questions submitted!
Q. DEAR MR. FORCE, I AM YOUR FAMILY'S BIGGEST FAN. I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOU SINCE THE WENDY'S DAYS. MY QUESTION IS, HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS, AND WHAT ONE THING MAKES JOHN FORCE AN ALL-AROUND WINNER?
A. First of all, what my dad always taught me was if you’re going to do a job for somebody, which we’re talking about the sponsors here, and also for NHRA, that you need to deliver. You have to win, you work hard, you make yourself available for where the fans can get to you and learn about the products that you sell. I have always worked hard and my dad gave me that work ethic. I learned that when I met Bob Tasca Sr. from Providence, Rhode Island’s Tasca Ford. He taught me about Ford Motor Company and his love for Ford. It’s just very critical. You work hard in America. You can get anywhere you want to be as long as you’re willing to give 150% and we do that at John Force Racing.
Q. I REALLY ENJOYED WATCHING THE FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS AT CHARLOTTE EARLIER THIS SPRING - I CAN'T EVEN IMAGINE HOW LOUD IT WAS. WHAT DID YOU GUYS THINK OF IT, AND ARE YOU GLAD THEY WILL BE DOING IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR?
A. Well, there was a lot of confusion with the race in four lanes. It had been done …they did it thirty years ago, but not to this magnitude. The hardest thing for the drivers was learning how to figure out the Christmas tree, which obviously I did. I had a good car and I won the race and Ashley was runner-up, so we had a real good weekend winning the four-wide. There were positives and negatives about TV time, because they couldn’t have the cameras on all four cars. There were positives that it did shorten the show, which would make the ESPN TV broadcast better, but there were a lot of drivers that didn’t like it. They really never gave it time when they made that decision to put a hold on it whether we wanted to run it again or not. The NHRA and the PRO organization got together and they agreed that we need to run it again. Bruton Smith invested huge in the four-lane race track and we owed him to give it another shot to see if it could work. It had good crowds. It had good TV ratings, but sometimes you have to test it more than once. Let’s give Bruton a chance for his investment and give us another shot to see if these Fords can get another win.
Q. WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING AND MEMORABLE WIN FOR YOU? AND WHY?
A. You’re always going to say your first championship win. I won my first race in Montreal, my first NHRA win. I had won on other circuits, but NHRA was the big series. Probably, when you win Indy, that’s the big one because I won the Big Buck Shootout in Indy and back-to-back won the two races on Sunday and Monday. That was exciting, but I guess you will never forget your first win, which was in 1990. Winning the first championship was exciting for me. Every win is different, but I got to be honest, probably my biggest win, even if I didn’t show it at the time, was when my daughter Ashley, driving a Ford Mustang, won the Atlanta race and she beat her dad in a heads-up race. She was on her game that day. Our car ended up smoking the tires. To see your child follow the dream that you dreamed your whole life and to see her win, that was huge for me.
Q. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO DRIVE ANY OF THE NEW FORD PRODUCTS HERE TODAY? IF NOT HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING THAT INTERESTS YOU?
A. Well, everybody knows that I love the Ford Mustang. I just bought a new Lincoln Pick-up Truck, which was really the two-year-old Lincoln but I really love it because it’s an era that won’t be there again, unless they bring it back. I own that as a personal car that I can use running around on my properties and such. It’s just a great vehicle, the same car as a Ford F-150 because we have those two in our family. Ashley’s first car ever was the F-150. She wanted a truck and she wanted to go racing. I like a lot of room. We have the Flex that we use with our race teams on the road. The savings that we have had with gas mileage is unbelievable. In this economy we need that savings and yet it will carry the same amount of passengers that we carry in our larger Ford trucks that we use to haul the team on the road along with our 18-wheelers that travel and hold the race cars. The Fusion is really hot right now, I know because I’ve driven it. I’ve driven a lot of stuff. Also I’ve driven the new Ford Fiesta with my daughter Courtney. It’s a beautiful car with great fuel economy and when you drive it, it’s nice. Great for a young kid in college with friends. It has a great trunk size. I drive the Ford Mustang because I like the performance, the big motor, the hot rod, and of course I worked hard with our teams to put a lot of engineering and technology into those cars. Right now in this economy, Ford is building better cars. That is a fact. I won’t drive anything but a Ford product.