What does the future hold for NHRA legend John Force?

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Second of two parts

PART ONE: Even at 65, he’s still NHRA drag racing’s driving Force


When most sports fans hear the acronym “NHRA”, it’s a good bet that the majority almost immediately think of John Force.

The 65-year-old Southern California native is that synonymous and identifiable with the overall National Hot Rod Association organization. To many, Force IS the NHRA, and the NHRA is Force — much like the late Dale Earnhardt was with NASCAR.

Even though in the whole big scheme of things, he’s just one driver, other than NHRA founder the late Wally Parks, no one has done more for the straightline sport than Force.

Like other professional sports leagues that have weathered tough economic times, the NHRA has admittedly struggled in recent years with at-track attendance and TV ratings.

But whenever someone suggests Force, the record 16-time Funny Car champ, should assume a significant leadership role within the NHRA’s corporate office, Force makes it clear he’s a Funny Car pilot, not a desk jockey.

“I want to build the sport because I just never grow tired of it,” he said. “Do I want to run a racing series? No, I leave that to other people. (NHRA president) Tom Compton and I have talked about the racing. I tell him what I think and he listens to me. Do you think he wants this to fail?”

While he told MotorSportsTalk that he has no plans to retire for at least five more years, there’s no denying that daughters Brittany and Courtney are at the center of Force’s eventual succession plan. He’s groomed them well both behind the wheel and in front of the cameras.

Before almost every round that the two sisters race, their father is out at the starting line to watch and offer his support.

“Do a good job, Courtney. You too, Brit. Now make some points out there,” dad often says to his offspring.

A third daughter, Ashley, was the first member of the family to follow in her father’s footsteps and achieved success as a racer before stepping out of her Funny Car to begin raising a family.

“I’m still here because my kids are here,” John Force said. “I missed so much of them growing up because I had to work. But now they’re here, my grandkids are with me. This is where I want to be.

“If I’m here, I have a purpose. One day, I’ll get a rocking chair out here when I need it, but right now I can drive that race car and I can leave with the best. I really love what I do.”

As president of John Force Racing, son-in-law Robert Hight, who is married to Force’s oldest daughter Adria, who is not a racer, is also a key element in where JFR goes in the future – even if it means the JF part of it eventually steps aside or stops racing just so his offspring can.

It’s clear from his actions and words how much family means to Force as he slowly begins transition into the next phase of his career.

“I want to hold my grandchildren, play ball with them and drive that race car,” Force said. “Those are my goals.”

He even has a play area in his massive race hauler for the grandkids.



And while the elder Force isn’t planning on getting out of the race car for quite some time, that decision may not necessarily and totally be his to make.

Force and JFR are in the midst of perhaps the biggest challenge the company and its founder have ever faced. Long-time sponsors Castrol and Ford are ending their financial backing of John Force at season’s end, choosing to take their sponsorship dollars in another direction after more than two decades of association with Force and his race teams.

“I’ve got a job cut out for me,” Force acknowledged. “(I’ll be losing) half my income (at season’s end). I had a huge income, had it real good. But there’s no guarantee in life.”

In a sense, Force is back to hustling for business deals and income just as he did when he first began his racing career in the early 1970s. He’s doing it for the survival of his team.

As part of that hustling, Force talks about building the JFR brand globally, including racing overseas in places like Qatar, Dubai, Australia and London. He’s also looking to grow drag racing in Canada.

“We’re trying to find the best partners,” Force said. “The world’s changed, the economy. Basically like NASCAR, you have to put two sponsors on a car. I’ve never done that before.

“I’ll be moving on from Ford. They’re great people, no complaints, but they’ve got another direction for the next three, four, five years and I appreciate all that they did for me.”

What manufacturer Force will campaign next season is uncertain. While an affiliation with Dodge makes sense because of its new Hellcat Challenger and Charger – both with 707 horsepower, the most powerful of any of today’s muscle cars – recent rumors seem to indicate Force may be heading to Chevrolet.

Also of late, Castrol has reportedly been in discussions with Force to possibly return next season, albeit most likely in a reduced role as perhaps an associate sponsor.



Force has other development plans in the works to not only keep the JFR brand viable, but to also expand its footprint both in and out of racing. Included in that is a new TV series – similar to “Driving Force” that ran several years ago – which is set to debut in early 2015.

Another thing Force is overseeing is perhaps the biggest project he’s ever been involved in, to build an all-encompassing business, entertainment and residential community.

While he won’t reveal its location just yet, think “ForceWorld” or “Forceville” and you’ve got the basic idea.

“I’m going to put a town around it,” Force said. “I’m going to build restaurants that go year-round, hotels that go-year round, not just when there’s a race. I’m going to have a place where people can golf.”

Even though he’s a multi-millionaire, Force has never forgotten the humble beginnings he came from. It’s not only a reminder, but also a motivator.

That’s why at a time when most people are retiring, Force is going faster and quicker than he ever has.

“I ain’t going back to that trailer house,” Force says of where he grew up in Bell Gardens, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. “My dad said as long as you have children, as long as you have people that believe in you, the Force family works. They all work until they die to some degree.”


And Force will indeed continue to work because, as hard as it may seem for diehard fans of drag racing’s greatest driver ever to believe, one of the biggest motivating factors in his life today is:


“Am I afraid,” Force said haltingly. “Yeah, I’m afraid to fail.”

But like he’s done thousands of times in his life, Force quickly goes from somber to humorous, a tool that oftentimes helps him cope and smoothes over what he’s really feeling inside.

“You know what? God has given me a gift through mostly B.S., not driving talent,” he said with a laugh.”

But once again, his emotions quickly swung back to realism.

“I live out here and yes, I’m afraid not to have this life,” he said. “I’m not just afraid, I’m terrified.

“John Force can’t go out of business. Just because I don’t get the money (he used to) doesn’t make me quit. I have to stay.”

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Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”