Funny Car Legend John Force Finally Admits He Has NHRA Exit Strategy

john force nhra
Funny Car Great John Force Has NHRA Exit StrategyNHRA/National Dragster

Just about every year or maybe serval times each season, 74-year-old NHRA Funny Car star John Force fields a question about whether he has a timetable for retirement and what would happen to his four-car racing organization if he steps from the cockpit.

Perhaps for the first time, he offered a telltale glimpse of the future during a Thursday webinar that was part of the Race Industry Week lineup.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do, because I’m not getting any younger. But what’s cool is we’ve built a situation,” Force told moderator Joe Castello. “If any reason I went down—and I could, any day—(JFR Top Fuel driver Austin) Prock would step right into my seat. Wouldn’t be a problem. He’s driven Funny Cars. He’s driven dragsters.”


Force said Prock “can drive the hell out of a car.”

The 155-time winner seems to have no shortage of replacements.

“Robert Hight can drive anything. Brittany (his daughter and two-time Top Fuel champion Brittany Force is) licensed in Funny Car,” he said. “So we try to make our company where we can always cover our backs.”

He said he and Hight are heading to Indianapolis Tuesday, before the PRI Show opens there Thursday, “to do a regrouping, because you’ve got to have back-ups everywhere. I made some mistakes—I didn’t have a back-up for (Top Fuel crew chief Dave) Grubnic.”

Although he has yet to announce the name of the individual, he said, “We’ve fixed that – we hired a young kid that’s going to come over who was a crew chief and he’s joining us. So we’re excited about that. And we’re still lookin’. We’re looking for more people.”

Force, who was winless in 2023 and has just one win in the past two seasons, said his sponsors have stuck by him and that “John Force Racing will survive. And why? Because I’ve been with other champions when they retired. The money’s not there. It’s getting tougher and tougher finding the help and training them.

john force nhra funny car
John Force has NHRA records of 155 career wins, 16 Funny Car championships.NHRA/National Dragster

“But I don’t have an option. I have to keep racin’. Robert has to... Prock, Brittany... all of these people that run our operation, we have to do it. It’s the only livin’ we have,” Force said. “We work it seven days a week. And we’re not going to fail. I guarantee that.”

As far as the organization’s longevity, he said, “We’ve got a place to go. We’ve got to survive, and we’ve got to find new sponsors.”

What’s more, Force said, “I’m having fun. When I get in that car, I know who I am. Look, I’m not trying to kid nobody—I’m not young like Robert (Hight is 54). I get up every morning, and I sit on the end of the bed and I go, ‘Where’s this day going to go?’ My chest starts poundin’. I have to call my doctor: ‘Am I having a heart attack?!’ He says, ‘No, Force. You’re going to work yourself to death, and you’ll never change.’ But when I get in that car, I get young again.

“I didn’t win the way I wanted to win this year,” Force, who finished seventh in the 2023 standings with no victories, said. But he isn’t pouting about ending his streak of 33 years with at least one triumph. “But I ain’t done. It’s going to motivate me more,” he promised.

The 2024 season will open March 7-10 Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.