Racing Veteran John Force Released From Hospital After Brutal NHRA Crash

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

NHRA drag racer and 16-time Funny Car champion John Force has been released from the hospital after a moderately heinous crash Sunday evening at the Arizona Nationals. The 68-year-old strip veteran was going head to head with Jonnie Lindberg when his engine exploded just feet from the finish line.

Fortunately, John won the race but the explosion blew apart the car’s bodywork and sent him into Lindberg’s lane. The vehicles collided as Force’s Chevy-powered dragster slammed into the far wall. Lindberg’s car, slowed by the initial impact and now entangled in the other vehicle’s parachute chord, was hit from behind a second time before both vehicles skidded to a stop against the opposite wall. The much older Force was transported to Chandler Regional Hospital as a precaution, while Lindberg was given a clean bill of health onsite.

“I got up and walked away,” Lindberg told Fox News. “I felt good and the doctors came to my trailer to check me out and told me that I’m good.”

With no serious injuries, Force was released from the hospital later that evening. He returned to the track to congratulate youngest daughter Courtney on winning the event’s Funny Car category in his absence.

The accident follows a similar incident several weeks prior where his other daughter, reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, veered into the wall immediately after launch. Now recovered, she claims to have no memory of the crash.

John claims safety advancements are what kept his wreck on Sunday from being more severe. In 2007, he suffered a blowout near the finish line of the Texas Motorplex that caused him to collide with Kenny Bernstein’s Dodge. Force was airlifted from the site and entered into six hours of reconstructive surgery. He also had to undergo months of rehab before returning to the driver’s seat. It was his belief that he might have had to endure that again, were it not for the structural improvements engineered into his car since then.

“This was a great day for John Force Racing,” he said after returning to the track. “Brittany came back from a crash at Pomona and won first round and Courtney won Funny Car for Advance Auto Parts. My struggles continue, but I’m a big boy, I’ll fix it.”

[Image: NHRA]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Kosmo Kosmo on Feb 27, 2018

    Not a big fan (or non-fan) of drag racing, but man, John Force is a FORCE! Glad he's OK.

  • St.George St.George on Feb 27, 2018

    Glad both chaps are fine. I got a little chortle about the 'check your coolant' slogan on the hood of the John Force car just prior to it exploding in a ball of flame!

  • ToolGuy From the relevant Haynes Repair Manual:"Caution: The 4.6L models require a special tool to extract the water pump from the coolant crossover housing. This special tool is expensive and the removal procedure is difficult. Have the water pump replaced by a dealer service department or other qualified automotive repair facility if the tool is not available."One version of the tool is Lisle 14440; I paid $10.82 (less 5% discount, plus shipping).You can see why I never attempt my own maintenance or repairs. 😉
  • Dave M. IMO this was the last of the solidly built MBs. Yes, they had the environmentally friendly disintegrating wiring harness, but besides that the mechanicals are pretty solid. I just bought my "forever" car (last new daily driver that'll ease me into retirement), but a 2015-16 E Class sedan is on my bucket list for future purchase. Beautiful design....
  • Rochester After years of self-driving being in the news, I still don't understand the psychology behind it. Not only don't I want this, but I find the idea absurd.
  • Douglas This timeframe of Mercedes has the self-disintegrating engine wiring harness. Not just the W124, but all of them from the early 90's. Only way to properly fix it is to replace it, which I understand to be difficult to find a new one/do it/pay for. Maybe others have actual experience with doing so and can give better hope. On top of that, it's a NH car with "a little bit of rust", which means to about anyone else in the USA it is probably the rustiest W124 they have ever seen. This is probably a $3000 car on a good day.
  • Formula m How many Hyundai and Kia’s do not have the original engine block it left the factory with 10yrs prior?
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