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Drag-racing legend John Force ready for Winternationals

February 11, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • John Force celebrates earning his 134th career win at the NHRA Winternationals drag races with his grandchildren.
John Force celebrates earning his 134th career win at the NHRA Winternationals… (Teresa Long / Associated…)

John Force, the 63-year-old drag-racing legend with a record 15 funny car championships, said he barely can wait for this season to start Thursday in Pomona.

Force said he wants to prove "I'm still in championship form" as the National Hot Rod Assn.'s premier Mello Yello Series opens with the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway.

Force is the defending winner of the event, which runs through Sunday, but that was his only win last year and he finished a distant ninth in the title standings. Force's most recent championship came in 2010.

Irrepressible and loquacious as ever, Force told reporters on a recent conference call that "when I go home, try to be normal, I get so depressed" because he's away from the drag strip.

He threw a Super Bowl party and was told by one of the departing guests that he and his racing relatives "talked [racing] through the whole football game," Force said, adding that he "didn't hardly take time to eat."

One of Force's daughters, Courtney, is starting her second year racing funny cars, and Force's son-in-law Robert Hight was the 2009 funny car champion. Both are members of Force's Yorba Linda-based team.

And another daughter, Brittany, will make her major league debut at Pomona but in a different class of NHRA cars. She'll race the top-fuel dragsters that are the fastest in the sport, exceeding 320 mph.

"We're on uncharted ground" with Brittany in the top-fuel ranks, Force said. But Force said he was "truly proud that my children get an opportunity to do the sport that I love to do."

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