What may be the strangest chain of events, the winningest driver in NHRA history can’t seem to keep a body on the car through an entire race. For the third time this season, John Force absolutely destroyed one of his Camaro bodies.
You will see a lot of things when it comes to NHRA drag racing, but never have I seen a driver have so many issues when it comes top end explosions. Week after week it seem like we are talking about another John Force explosion, and week after week we are lucky to still have John with us. This weekend in Gainesville at the Gatornationals it’s no different.
Yesterday during Q2 of the Gators, I was standing at about the 220’ mark along the wall. Shooting the same lane that John was in. After John flew passed me I flip around to watch the end of his run and that’s when the ground shook. A giant explosion echoed though the area as I watched the Camaro body of John’s Funny Car go flying over the wall and landing in the grass on the right side of the track.
I watched on the big screen as John was able to climb out of the car by his own power. I honestly was shocked that John was climbing out. That was by far the biggest explosion that I have personally witnessed firsthand. The track was littered with pieces and parts as the safety safari and other NHRA officials went up to assistant John and take a look at the track.
We were down for quite a while after the explosion making sure that John was ok and that everything got cleaned up for the rest of the field that still had to run. I was able to listen to the interview with John after the loss. They have been trying week after week to figure out what is going on and what is causing these issues to happen.
The biggest concern in my mind is for the safety of one of the greatest drag racers in the history of our sport. Fact of the matter is that John is still the face of the NHRA and top level drag racing. So, is there really a blanket answer to the issue? Or is this something that we just hope John doesn’t get hurt and that whatever issue is occurring is solved?
Drag racing is a dangerous venture and we all know that. Whether you are a driver, crew, media, staff, etc. There is really no one that knows that better than John does. He has “been there done that” for more than 30 years at the highest level of our sport. This isn’t a driver issue, this must be a mechanical issue of some sort, but that gremlin is more difficult to catch than Lucky Charms leprechaun. With that said, what is NHRA responsibility when making sure that John and the rest of the field are safe on the track?
NHRA safety is one of the toughest in all of the motorsports industry. There are a lot of drivers that don’t agree with how tough the tech rules are that NHRA lays out as the primary sanctioning body in drag racing. You could argue that all day long, and then you see the explosion by John, or the one by Cruz Pedregon, or the sportsman Camaro that hit the wall yesterday and you start to understand why the rules are the way they are. NHRA has for years been behind the time and more reactionary to technology, versus being proactive, but this is not something that can be handled on just a reactionary basis.
Coming into the 2018 season NHRA had changed rules in regards to the header angles on these cars in an attempt to slow them down, yet the opposite is what has happened. We have seen John’s teammate Robert Hight lay down earth rotating MPH numbers this season already. Fans want to see speed and explosion make for great photos, but the fact is that it may be time to find a real solution and get these cars back closer to the 300 MPH mark and not closer to the 350 MPH mark. I certainly don’t have the answers, because if I did I would certainly share them. What I am saying though, for a fact, is that John Force needs drag racing and drag racing needs John Force. That means we need him in one piece and able to enjoy many more years of racing.