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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

John Force -- Still Doin' What it Takes

By Tom West

John Force does what it takes to get the fans on his side and the sponsors on the side of his car. Photo by James Morgan
John Force does what it takes to get the fans on his side and
the sponsors on the side of his car. Photo by James Morgan

Having been around this sport for a few years, I have to say that John Force is one of the best things that has happened to it in a long time. I find it amazing to see how hypocritical people get when they talk about him. If people want to see the little guy get ahead, John is the model that they should use. I have a photograph of John on his first run down the quarter mile in Jack Chrisman's old Mustang sidewinder, so I know he didn't jump in with the best of equipment. 

John Force also stuck with the program long after guys now would have been forced to quit racing. Look at his first 10-12 years in the sport and see how long the struggle was. Through all of those second and third hand race cars, still hitting the National Event and Match Race Circuit... he paid his dues.

John has always seemed to be able to come up with some decent sponsors, at least some name guys to back him, whether he won or not. That says a lot for a guy who can be as brash as anyone you want to meet at times. His association with Castrol, and the hiring of Austin Coil to run the racing operation has arguably been the most successful association in the history of the sport. He paid Coil when he couldn't pay his own bills, and that determination and sacrifice has earned him the position that he has. Nobody gave him anything along the way.

As far as his contact with the public, I have been working with Action on their die-cast program for a while. We took the owner and a couple of his engineers to Sonoma in August to see what they are currently working on (read that as a hint, by the way). Out of the many teams to whose hospitality centers we took this group, the one who gave them the best reception was John Force. He went out of his way to make sure they felt welcomed, did the picture thing, shook hands, etc. And, this was on Sunday between rounds so it wasn't during the down time.

Take into account the exuberance he shows in interviews, with the press, with fans (and I know there will be individual instances where someone may have a complaint), and the rest of the public. This sport could do well with a few more like John Force.

As far as our relationship with him in developing products, that group is extremely cooperative and goes out of their way to try to help us create the best product that we can get out for them. Other teams could learn a little about communications from this one as well.

If you don't want to root for him as your favorite, I'll buy in. But you have to have the respect for what he has done in the sport ... and for what he has done for the sport.

Tom West

 

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