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96th NHRA Funny Car Nationals John Force - John Force Vs. Car Craft

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Force: I did all that when I was a kid. I get fleet cars every year from Ford, and they always say, "If you want to buy a used one, buy Force's because he goes easy on them."

CC: What was your very first car?

Force: I had a '62 Ford Fairlane with a three-speed on the column, but I put a 390 Interceptor and a four-speed in it. I think it was a Muncie.

CC: If you could only have one car, what would it be?

Force: Probably the Jaguar I have now. I know it's not a Ford, but at least they own Jaguar, so it's OK. I actually have a whole museum full of cars. I have a '28 Ford Woodie, a '57 T-Bird, and I just got a '58 Cadillac. It's a shame I never get to drive any of them. But I guess my favorite driver is a '6411/42 Mustang convertible. It's got a 260 and an automatic, and I love taking the girls out in it for a Sunday drive.

CC: Most of the sport's top drivers eventually step aside to manage a team full-time. Is that in your near future?

Force: I just signed a five-year contract with Castrol to drive until I'm 55. Oh wait. I'm 52, so that means I'll be driving at least until I'm 57. But I have four daughters and three of them are interested in racing. One of them runs my office here in Los Angeles, and my youngest just graduated from the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School. I really think there's a lot of potential for women in the sport, and she's on the five-year plan. Ford is looking at her to possibly drive five years from now.

CC: There are rumors that Winston may pull out of the NHRA. How's the current health of the sport in your opinion?

Force: I'm proud to be the Winston champion, and even though I've heard that talk, I don't think it's a fact yet. [Ed. Note: Just prior to press time and after this interview, RJR Reynolds announced it was pulling its Winston sponsorship from NHRA.] We've got a great television package, and we've got two great people behind drag racing: Tom Compton at the NHRA and [the IHRA's] Bill Bader. I think one day there will be a Super Bowl between the two groups.

CC: What's your pitch when you meet with a potential sponsor?

Force: I tell them that drag racing is a better buy even than NASCAR. It's not only what you can get on TV, it's what you get at the races. NASCAR is a blur, with the cars going around in a circle, and so is drag racing when the car is going down the track. But at an NHRA race, the fans can spend time in the pits with with their favorite drivers. There's a more personal touch. The sponsors can also spend the day with their driver. I had about 20 sponsors with me last weekend.

CC: One last thing we've got to ask. Do you ever read Car Craft?

Force: I read Car Craft all the time, especially when I'm on an airplane. I like to see what's going on with the basic street car guys. But I also read Hot Rod, the Robb Report, and The National Enquirer.

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