John Force captured his 150th win at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals on Sunday, further cementing his legacy as the greatest racer in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history. He fought his way out of his Peak Chevy Camaro to deliver another iconic interview, which you can watch below in its entirety, before heading to the media center to talk more about his 150th triumph in a Funny Car.
Transcribed below are all of John Force’s comments about his 150th win.
John Force: Don’t let anybody tell you that this #### doesn’t matter. I’ve been so #### up lately. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. This is the best right here. I’ve been screwed up for 25 races. I hate that monkey. Where is that monkey? I love that monkey, now.
Jamie Howe: How do you explain the success that you’ve been able to enjoy?
JF: Because I surround myself with the greatest people, the greatest sponsors with Peak and Auto Club and Chevrolet and Advanced Auto Parts and Car Quest and of course Montana Brand. I've got a young kid coming here right now. But what I've done is take their money and bought the best people. Brian Corradi, my son-in-law Daniel Hood and Fabrisi and this team got me this win and I've been struggling.
There's a lot of other guys that have got me this win, so I just want to say I want to say to all the guys that were part of 150 you're all part of my life. I want to tell you Austin Coil, I love you. You stood by me, called me every week, said I was screwed up, but I could still drive. God bless you. You and Bernie Fedderly, we finally made it.
Joe Castello: You’ve been pressing for this moment for a long time.
JF: It's been 25 races (since my last win), Denver last year. So, I'd give credit to a lot of crew chiefs over the year I came here the first time with Steve Plueger, and you know a great chassis builder and tuner. I came here with Austin Coil and then with Bernie Fedderly. I say those are the greatest crew chiefs in the world. I said it on TV they got most of those wins, but so many other crew chiefs you know, but Corradi and Daniel Hood and Fabresi, they led the charge and they've had to put up with me all year, not being happy with the way the car steered and how I sat in it.
Then I got the monkey on my back, and I know I finally said it, I know I tell you guys that it doesn’t bother me, but it drives you nuts. You go to bed every night thinking about it. Then I said, where's the monkey? The monkey taught me so much that the pressure is there, and it forces you to focus on your car if you want to do good and John Force does. He runs around and he sells sponsors and I'm just doing stuff all the time and I don't even know my car and Corradi says and so would Coil that you have to know your car. You have to know it, you have to love it, you have to study the other drivers. I’d say that I’d do that, and I wasn’t. Sometimes you need that slap in the face, and that was the monkey, you know what I mean? It made me focus. It made me live in my car. Maybe you’ve noticed that the past four or five races it’s been popping up a little bit faster.
Robert Hight has stood by me through everything. He just amazes me you know. A lot of people said it was over for me but give me a good race car and I can still race. I may not be as young as these kids and a hotshot on that tree you know what I mean like some of these young guys, you know what I mean, but I'm excited for Prock, who won right behind me, and I went to the stands I, screwed up the parade but I owed it to the fans. I never made it to the fans in Topeka because I was hurt, so I never made it over the fence there. So, I went over the fence this time and they were dragging me over. I just had to tell them I loved them.
We have a great race car and I think that moved us to second in the points. I’m really excited about the future of our sport and there’s just so much potential out here. All we go tot do is find money. All we gotta do is find out of how to get corporate America right and that is a creek may not just change the way they look at it and NASCAR IndyCar everywhere and I'm gonna find a way. Because my grandkids were out here and are part of that part of that, and Autumn and Jacob and my daughters Ashley and Brittany and Courtney and you know. They’re just so much a part of my life. I’ve got three years left on my contract, so you’re stuck with me.
Who were you more excited for, yourself or for Austin?
JF: I’m excited for me to get rid of the pain, but Montana Brand took a chance with us and came in with Prudhomme and I think that really you know, when you switch crew chiefs and you put in Mike Green and you put a load on him and Ronnie Thompson, but they stayed with it. He doesn't overreact. He doesn't say, gee that guy's faster I'm gonna go after him. He plays the game how he knows, like a lot like Corradi, like Austin Coil. Jimmy (Prock), he rips their hearts, out he's fearless, but that’s the way he races, and they all get it done their own way.
I'm glad it's over, but I'm gonna race and I can calm down now and not live with thinking that I’d never get it. One thing that I didn’t do is yell out, ‘Petty, I’m coming after 200.’ I never raced Petty, so no, no more jokes, I’m going to go race my car, and you know I’ve only got a few more years left. I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun. And when you can’t win, I’ve been trained to win, and it’s just not fun. Then the budgets get crazy, the road gets tougher, but you guys are still here writing stories.
I’ve got old Capps, I love him, I tried to hire him here years ago and I hope I didn’t embarrass him. I’m the guy that kissed him. He did not kiss me, but I just. You know, sometimes I just love him, and I know he was trying to beat me and giving it all he had. He’s the real deal, he’s a real great racer, and I guess luck was with me today and I got to win. I know if I kiss Ron Capps, I might get my picture in the paper.
How special was it to get the win in Seattle?
Well, I've crashed here so many times, I've won so many races here, seven or eight, I don't even know, and yet I love that I raced up here with Bill Doner. I was doing a show with him and (Jack) Beckman and Capps with 64 Funny Cars. I couldn't beat nobody. I couldn't even do a burnout without running out of fuel or oil and I just fell in love with it.
I tell my wife, not because I won the race, but I said there's certain tracks I'm really happy at. I mean I love Indy, but Pomona is a work/job for me because there are so many family members, but I always loved Seattle. I love Vegas and I don't party in Vegas, but I had to stop drinking with my head injuries, I haven’t had a drop now it's been over a year so and I'm feeling pretty good and I'm starting to come around. I've had some problems and I have to wear special glasses because my eyes are bad, but I got no complaints. I'm 70 years old and I'm gonna do it because I love the fans and God will tell me when it's time. You'll know when your whole body says you're done. But I need to build new stars. I need to build Brittany. Robert is already there, and Brittany is a champion, but she's got so much to learn, and I've got Prock and he's good I know he had a little hiccup there, but all day long he was killing ‘em. So, anyway he's young and he's strong. I don't have that strength anymore; you know what I mean? No matter how hard you try, you don't have that fire and I get it in my head.
It's hard to get it to make your legs do what you want to do like these young kids, but I'm giving it all I got, and I got a win.
Do you feel like you have what it takes to make a run for a title?
Yeah, I feel like we do. Robert is killer on the lights, but they all are now. Everybody can beat me, that ain't no secret. I have to fudge and cheat and go deep and all that stuff, but sometimes it's only a little. But it might be enough when they're running side by side. So, I can do that and that's what I've got to do. I don't want to screw with anybody, you know. I do what I do. I make up my mind and some days I go in completely different directions and some days I just screw up like not having brakes and stuff the last couple of races.
They found out it really wasn't a brake problem they found it in the clutch can the clutch was driving me, but the guys are good, and they found it. But boy, we carried it for four or five races and the clutch cam was flexing the parts inside. Corradi found it at Sonoma and in one race it turned us around. That don't mean you're gonna win a championship, because it might be screwed up next week but I'm in the hunt and that's all I ever wanted to do was be in the hunt. I'm not trying to kid nobody, you know, I mean I really love it. I love watching these cars and I told myself if you get beat go over and give Ron a hug, but he was right there, the first one to congratulate me. That’s the kind of guy he is. J.R. Todd is another guy, just a great personality, never mad. You think he’s gonna get mad and then he just laughs.
Did you ever think you would get to 150 wins?
No. I never thought I would be lucky enough to get five. What I’m saying is, I remember going to nine finals and somebody saying, ‘hey, is this like when you won your first championship?’ And I said don’t put that thought in my head, it’s too crowded in there. Too many beer cans in there, I said. I don’t even want to think about it.
You don’t even think about it until you see a guy walking away with a sign with a number on it. That’s when you realize you’re making NHRA history. You’re making everybody make all this extra effort, NHRA is setting up whole shows around me and then I fail again. But I wasn’t failing, I was doing the best I could. But failure is part of it. That’s what I told Brittany, until you can learn to get that gut ache and turn it into a positive, that’s the key.