John Force Racing is one of America’s great sports dynasties with 22 championships, hundreds of wins and a huge fan following from around the world. JFR remains the sport’s undeniable “Home to Champions” as the winningest team in motorsports history.
John Force was so bad in the early years that Larry Sutton, the official starter at Irwindale Raceway, once banned him from the track as a safety risk to both himself and everyone else. Force’s less than stellar reputation was prevalent among the established Funny Car racers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. For nine long seasons he didn’t win an NHRA event, finally breaking through in Montreal in June of 1987. Starting his racing career with a less than stellar reputation as a serious competitor, who could have imagined that Force would become the most prolific winning driver in NHRA history?
After finishing in the the top six of the points standings for five consecutive years, Force would have a breakout season winning seven out of seven finals round appearance on the way to his first world championship. He was the No. 1 qualifier ten times and finished the season with an amazing 45-12 round record. John backed up his 1990 success with another championship in 1991 where he had five wins in 10 final round appearances and a 48-13 round record.
After a season filled with fires and crashes in 1992, John Force came back to win 12 NHRA Championships including 10 straight from 1993-2002, the others were in 2004 and 2006. John dominated like no other driver or athlete in history. JFR became the first multi-car team with a lineup of talented young drivers throughout the years including Force’s daughters, Ashley Force Hood (raced from 2002-2010), Courtney Force (2006-2018) and Brittany Force (2006-present). The ‘first-family of drag racing’, as they were dubbed, were featured in their own reality show, ‘Driving Force’ on A&E. Their fanbase grew as fans, sponsors and media loved the family dynamic of the team.
After the tragic loss of teammate Eric Medlen in a testing accident in March 2007, JFR created the Eric Medlen Project to focus on safety. Six months later, John had a horrific crash in Dallas when his car came apart at over 300 mph. He survived with major trauma to his extremities but no head injuries thanks to cockpit modifications after Medlen’s crash. After spending a month at Baylor Hospital, John came home to continue off-season daily physical therapy. He returned to the funny car seat 137 days after his crash to compete in the 2008 season and finished seventh in the points standings.
Following the 2008 season, JFR focused on safety as well as performance. This dual focus did anything but slow the teams down as Robert Hight won the 2009 Funny Car championship with the only worst to first finish in the history of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship. Robert started the six race playoffs in 10th and worked his way to his first championship. The following season John Force won his historic and emotional 15th championship with an unprecedented final day of the season charge overcoming the largest final day point deficit to win a championship. He took his 16th championship three seasons later in 2013, clinching the win with a victory over daughter Courtney Force in the final round of the fall Las Vegas national event.
In 2017 John Force Racing rewrote their own record books winning both the Top Fuel and Funny Car championships in the same season. Brittany broke through for JFR’s first Top Fuel championship and Robert Hight took hope his second Funny Car title. En route to his second championship, Robert set both ends of the Funny Car NHRA Nationals Records. In Sonoma, California, Robert would go 339.87 mph to set the speed record and in Brainerd Minnesota, he recorded a 3.793-second pass to set the elapsed time record. Brittany would follow suit in 2019 setting the Top Fuel elapsed time record at 3.623-seconds in Reading, Pennsylvania and the speed record at 338.17 mph in the fall Las Vegas event. In 2019, John was setting records of his own capturing his 150th (Seattle) and 151st (Indy) career victories. The newest driver to the NHRA line-up, Austin Prock, also added his name to the history book when he doubled up beside John for his first win in Seattle.
In 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic put JFR on pause, but, while no professional racing happened, the John Force Racing Jr. Dragster teams of Autumn Hight and Hoodlum Brothers Jacob and Noah took center stage. The trio brought in three wins. JFR returned to NHRA Camping World competition in 2021 as a three car team featuring John Force, Brittany Force and Robert Hight. Austin Prock took on crew member duties under his crew chief father, Jimmy Prock, on Robert Hight’s team. Brittany Force would lead the team with a second place finish in 2021 and the father-daughter duo of Brittany and John would have a double up victory in Topeka for the first time in history, but it would be 2022 when JFR would return to its full vigor.