16-time drag race champion comes to Lawton - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

16-time drag race champion comes to Lawton

LAWTON, Okla._John Force, the 16-time champion Funny Car drag racer, was in Lawton Thursday with his drag racing daughter, Brittany, for a tour of the Goodyear plant.

John Force started racing in 1978 and over the years, it has evolved into a family sport. Two of his daughters and a son-in-law also race. Force even has a granddaughter who is learning how to drive a junior drag race car. Force is sponsored by Goodyear and they spent the day getting to know the plant and thanking everyone for their hard work.

Racing is just a way of life for the Force family. John Force says when he sits in his race car, it's "like living on the edge."

Force, now 66 years old, says drag racing keeps him feeling young.

"It's 10,000 horse power in a car, 330 miles an hour in less than four seconds, four to five Gs and you hit that throttle and parachutes out and hope you're not on fire. So it's pretty exciting," Force said.

As exciting as it is, it can also dangerous. In 2007, Force was injured in a crash during a race in Ennis, Texas. Force broke his ankle, damaged his knee and dislocated his left wrist.

"They said I’d never walk again, they never said I wouldn't talk again. But I'm driving, I've come back and won championships," Force said.

Racer Eric Medlen was killed in that crash. Force says the crash has taught him not to take things for granted.

"People joked that I was Elvis, James Dean and Superman rolled into one. You can't hurt him, but that was a wakeup call…everybody's vulnerable," Force said.

Force wants to focus on safety. He says tires are a racer's lifeline, and in his opinion, Goodyear is the only way to go.

"You've got to have a tire that will protect the driver. A tire that will take any type of torturous beating. They test them in the plants, how to destroy a tire, and they build a tire that you can't," Force said.

Force's daughter, Brittany, is also a racer. She says she's been around it her whole life and started racing at the age of 17. To this day, she feels the same rush she did her first time in a dragster.

"I mean, your heart's pounding, you have butterflies in your stomach, you’re nervous and can't catch your breath. But that’s part of it, that's what makes fun, that's what makes it exciting," Brittany Force said.

Brittany says they travel to 24 racing events a year, but there's one thing that makes all the traveling worth it.

"Really, it's Sunday when you turn on those wind lights. You turn those win lights on and you're going rounds, that's the most exciting part. It makes the hard work pay off," Brittany Force said.

Brittany says she loves that racing is something her family revolves around.

"It's what I grew up with. I don't know any different so this is normal to me," Brittany Force said.

"We live it, we love it, we love the competition. But it's the thrill of 330 miles an hour, you know, on four wheel, NHRA drag racing is just an unbelievable sport," John Force said.

John and Brittany Force will be racing this weekend to qualify for the AAA Texas Fall Nationals in Dallas. If qualified, they will race on Sunday.

The two will not be racing against one another. John will be racing in the Funny Car division. Brittany, right now, is in her third year racing in top fuel.  

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