John Force dedicates driving simulator similar to one that played key role in comeback from horrific 2007 crash

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John Force not only believes in giving back, he also believes in paying it forward.

Even though it’s been nearly seven years since it happened, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion still recalls the worst crash of his career late in the 2007 season at the Texas Motorplex, as if it was yesterday.

“When I had my accident in 2007, the doctors told me I’d be lucky to walk, let alone drive a race again,” Force said in a media release.

That’s why it was so meaningful for Force to help primary sponsor Castrol Oil donate and dedicate a state-of-the-art WT-960 TRAN-SIT Car Transfer Simulator Thursday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wayne, N.J.

“I was even more determined to prove them (doctors) wrong and began going through recovery and rehab on car simulator just like this one,” Force said. “Since then, I’ve won two NHRA Funny Car Championships.”

The simulator is designed to help patients at the hospital to “reclaim their independence by providing them a convenient and safe method of regaining their basic driving skills within a controlled environment,” according to the release.

Force suffered a long list of injuries in his horrific wreck at Texas (see three videos below), including a compound fracture of his left ankle, severe abrasion and tendon damage to his right knee and leg, a dislocated and broken left wrist and several broken fingers on his right hand.

Playing a key role in his more than six months of therapy and rehabilitation were dozens of hours spent on a car simulator similar to the one he donated Thursday.

And given that the hospital is near one of the NHRA’s oldest and most popular racetracks – Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., site of this weekend’s NHRA Summernationals – it was a fitting recipient for the simulator.

“The simulated car or vehicle that we have on the unit will allow our patients the freedom and ability to get back on the road as well as feel safe about it,” said Dr. Massod, Medical Director of the Acute Rehabilitation Unit. “They will also be safe for other passengers and other drivers.

“The fact that John and Brittany Force came out today to support this product and show that there is a need for rehabilitation equipment like this. We are very grateful to them and Castrol BP.”

Joining her father for the dedication, 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year Brittany Force recalled what he went through following the worst wreck and injuries of his career.

“We were worried about my dad after that horrible crash and questioned if he’d ever race again,” Brittany Force said. “After seeing his hard work and determination (to come back from his Texas wreck), he’s inspired all of us.”

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Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.