Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force collected his 150th career national event victory on Sunday at the NHRA Northwest Nationals Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. And the 70-year-old icon celebrated like a man a half a century his junior, dropping the f-bomb live on the FOX broadcast network, kissing final round opponent Ron Capps on the lips, and scaling a pair of fences to ascend into the grandstand and celebrate with the legions of fans who have been there to witness all or part of his legendary 41-year driving career.
Force is the first driver in NHRA history to win 150 races — his defeat of Ron Capps in Sunday’s finale snapped a 25-race winless streak, and secured a continuation of his incredible record of at least one win in 32 of the last 33 seasons. Impressively, the next-closest professional win tally belongs to Warren Johnson at 97; the nearest active driver is Greg Anderson at 93.
Force began his racing career in 1978, but didn’t score his first professional NHRA victory until June 28, 1987, when he broke through and downed Ed “The Ace” McCullough at Quebec, Canada.
“I give credit to a lot of crew chiefs over the years,” Force said. “I got the monkey off my back and it drove me nuts. But it taught me to focus on my car if I want to do (well). I had to get to know my car and sometimes you need a slap in the face. That was the monkey that made me focus. I’ve been living it here the last 4-5 races and we found something real critical. I may not be as young as these kids, but I’m excited. I can calm down now and not live with that thinking that I’ll never get it.”
The win was also Force’s first with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Dan Hood, who moved over from daughter, Courtney Force’s team in 2019.
“Give me a good race car and I can race,” Force continued. “I know Capps wanted to beat me and he was giving it all he had. He’s the real deal, he’s a real great racer, and today luck was just with me and I got the win. Ron was the first one over to congratulate me and that’s the kind of guy he is. But there’s certain tracks I’m really happy at and I’ve always loved Seattle. I’m in the hunt and that’s all I ever wanted to do was to be in the hunt.”
Adding to the celebration, Force’s newest protege, Austin Prock, scored his first career Top Fuel victory, sending Force into his wild post-race frenzy that ended in the Pacific Raceway’s grandstand.
Who knows how many victories will come in Force’s illustrious career, but this one certainly will never be forgotten.