Force isn’t retiring, but preparing for Prock to be JFR’s future

John Force sent the drag racing world into a tizzy this week after publicly acknowledging that he’s putting together a succession plan at John Force Racing.

The comments came during one of the more emotional interviews Force has given in recent years after winning the New England Nationals at Epping. Force beat teammate Austin Prock in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Funny Car final. It was his 157th career win.

Force ended his television winner’s interview by saying that Prock would replace him. He then handed the Wally to Prock, walked toward his tow vehicle and took his hat off. A few minutes later, in an interview at the starting line, Force told the crowd his time was “pretty much up,” and he’s begun the process of what will come next.


“I’m 100 years old; I’ve got to leave here sometime,” Force clarified at Bristol Dragway. “All I was saying is, ‘Here’s the future of John Force Racing. This kid right here.’”

Force’s bluntness and the undeniable reality that he is moving closer to the end of his career resulted in fans calling to inquire whether he would be in Bristol for the Super Grip Thunder Valley Nationals. Friday, Force was not only suited up and ready for another race weekend but sat alongside Prock for a media session where the 16-time champion continued to sing the young driver’s praises.

Prock may be a rookie in Funny Car, but he’s already been on quite a tear. Jerry Foss/NHRA

Prock had been one of the Force dragster drivers but moved into the Funny Car class this season when Robert Hight needed to step away for health reasons. He’s made the transition look easy with four final-round appearances, one victory and five No. 1 qualifiers. After seven races, Prock is atop the championship point standings.

“The fans [can] really react funny, and a driver maybe takes my seat and makes some of them mad,” Force said. “So I’m just telling them early, ‘Don’t waste your time; he’s coming.’ Because we want to keep winning, and he’s the guy that will be able to do that for me.”

In typical Force fashion, the humor then took over. Force turned to Prock and said, “If I quit in the next 25 years, [or the] next 25 days.”

The patriarch of the family team then realized he was going to start another round of speculation. He quickly caught himself and cracked, “Nope, [I] did it again!”

With Prock certainly staying with JFR into the future, it just remains to be seen whether that will be in the Cornwell Tools Funny Car or a second Top Fuel dragster again. NHRA

Brittany Force drives the only Top Fuel dragster out of the John Force Racing stable. Prock’s dragster was sidelined when the team’s sponsor, Flav-R-Pack, had internal changes, and he was needed for Hight’s car. Part of what Force is working on for the future is bringing back the second dragster — he revealed one conversation has been with Jordan Vandergriff.

Hight also plans to return to his seat when capable. Prock, however, would not be the odd guy out, and that’s what Force wanted to make clear when looking toward the next chapter, whenever that might be, since Force knows it’s coming but isn’t quite ready to put it into motion.

“I’m not going anywhere; I love it,” Force said. “I was very emotional getting around this kid [last weekend] because he’s so good on the tree. … In the end, I got the win; it was a good weekend [with] luck being a big part of it. It was just an emotional moment.

“I’m not telling people what I’m doing, but I got a plan. I don’t have it figured out yet because the real truth [is] I’m nobody without the sponsors. I’ve got some money but not enough to pay the bills on these hotrods, and I need to get that organized.”

Story originally appeared on Racer