Violent, Fiery Crash At Virginia Motorsports Park Sends NHRA Great John Force To Hospital

john force virginia nhra nationals
NHRA Legend John Force Crashes, Taken to HospitalNHRA/National Dragster

NHRA Funny Car legend John Force was taken to a Richmond-area hospital Sunday afternoon following his fiery, wall-smashing, high-speed crash during the first round of the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals.

The 75-year-old 157-time winner clocked a 302.62-mph victory over Terry Haddock in the right lane at Virginia Motorsports Park before the engine in his PEAK Chevy Camaro exploded in a massive fireball. It propelled him across the track and hard into the left-side wall directly by the driver’s compartment. The car came completely off the concrete surface as it darted back across the track and back into the right lane and made contact with that wall.

Force was able to exit his car and was alert and talking with the Safety Safari workers on site before he entered an ambulance.

His teammate, Austin Prock, had been waiting for him at the top end of the track following his own first-round victory, and he clearly was shaken by the incident.


“He’s one tough son of a bitch, I know that. He’ll be back,” an emotional Prock said of his boss. “It’s just tough to see somebody go through that. I hope he’s all right. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. I know he’ll be back.”

Force’s two-time Top Fuel champion daughter Brittany Force, who upset higher-qualified Jasmine Salinas in Round 1, stayed at the track to face Tony Stewart in the quarterfinals. She lost to Stewart but said when she climbed from her dragster, “My dad’s going to be all right. I was in the ambulance with him, holding his hand. And he’s one of the toughest people I know. So he’ll bounce back, like he always does.”

She said of returning to the track after witnessing a traumatic incident, “It’s something that’s tough. We know that’s a part of the drill. That’s how this sport goes. I wouldn’t be his daughter if I wasn’t back up here in that car, trying to win this thing with this team for him.”

Prock also made a second-round pass, and after eliminating Ron Capps, he said, “We’re race-car drivers, and we have to flip the switch. You got at-home Austin Prock, and you got race-car driver Austin Prock. You got to flip the switch and get the job done. I know John wants us to be out here, going rounds. Maybe we can get him a Wally.”

While he waited through the hour delay, Funny Car racer Ron Capps said that “the old man having that accident was tough to watch.” He said he sat in his tow vehicle and “you start thinking, ‘Man, what are we doing?’ We don’t know how he is.”

And reigning Funny Car champion Matt Hagan said, “My main thought is I hope John’s okay. You hate to see him go through that. Send prayers up for him. He’s a legend of the sport, the GOAT. The car looked pretty burned up.” Hagan said, “I’ve always been an advocate of not trying these [car] bodies down, and that’s a direct result of why we shouldn’t tie the bodies down.”

Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon said, "We love what we do, but we're all thinking about John at this point."

Official NHRA Statement:

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series: During the first round of Funny Car eliminations at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals on Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park, John Force’s Funny Car suffered an engine explosion at the finish line and then crossed the centerline, striking both guard walls before coming to a stop. Force was alert and was examined onsite by the NHRA Medical Team before being transported to a local medical facility for further evaluation.

Autoweek will provide more information as it becomes available.

To see a social media post with video of the crash from Drag Illustrated and NHRA Communications, Click HERE.