The status of John Force Racing’s four professional nitro teams has been the source of considerable conversation in recent weeks, as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series counts down the hours and minutes to its long-awaited return at Indianapolis. Reliable sources have told Dragzine that Force has made a strategic decision to park the teams for the remainder of the 2020 season due to rumored sponsorship losses in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
That news, of course, remains unconfirmed. John Force Racing has not made an official statement, and sources close to the team have not divulged any details as to its plans. What we do know is that all four teams — those of Force, daughter Brittany, Robert Hight, and Austin Prock — did not meet the 1 p.m. PT deadline Monday for entry into this weekend’s E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, and are not presently entered for the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals, also at Indianapolis, the following weekend.
If the news does come to pass, it could, in the end, prove wise on Force’s part — the NHRA has already lost its Seattle, Washington event, and rumors have been persistent over the last two weeks regarding the fate of the August 14-16 race at Brainerd, Minnesota. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in every state that the series is set to visit in the second half of the year — including sharp increases in Florida, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, California, North Carolina, and Georgia (eight of the 16 remaining races) — completing the season could prove both difficult and costly for the remaining professional teams. As we have seen play out with racetrack operators, it is potentially less risky to close the doors and minimize operating overhead to weather the storm than to gamble on an uncertain future.