NHRA: Now that he’s 67, there’s still no slowing down for John Force

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Top Fuel driver Chris Karamesines is still racing at the age of 84.

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits is heavily involved in developing electric dragsters – and racing them – also at the age of 84.

John Force, who turned 67 earlier this month (May 4), may wind up racing past 84 at the rate he’s going.

Force is the winningest driver in NHRA history, with more than 140 race wins and 16 season championships in the Funny Car ranks.

But it wasn’t too long ago – 18 months, to be precise – that Force’s racing career appeared to be over, or close to it. When Castrol Oil ended its 30-year sponsorship of Force, his daughter Courtney and son-in-law Robert Hight, and Ford ended its 20-year partnership as car manufacturer of record for John Force Racing — both deals coming to an end after the 2014 season — Force seriously began to wonder if he’d ever race again.

Suddenly, in what he calls his darkest hours as a racer, Peak Antifreeze and Lubricants, as well as Chevrolet, came to Force’s rescue to replace Castrol and Ford.

And now, as JFR is six races into its second year with Peak and Chevy, things continue to get better and look more optimistic for all three Funny Car drivers.

So, the question that is invariably asked of Force seemingly at every race, is how long will he continue racing? Speculation has Force behind the wheel for another three years, at least. Other speculation has him staying in a Funny Car until Courtney or Hight win the championship – or another daughter, Brittany Force, wins the Top Fuel championship.

Then again, we may still be watching Force racing 20 years from now, if he has his way and his health remains good.

One thing is for certain, though: Force and Chevrolet are attached at the hip. He’s not going anywhere and neither is the Detroit automaker.

“I’m gonna end my career here,” Force said. “We’re going to race a long time. Why change as long as we can perform?”

Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell, is a long-time fan of Force. When the opportunity came up to sign the living legend and return him under the Chevy banner, Campbell moved quickly to bring Force back into the Chevy family.

“Jim Campbell is all about winning,” Force said. “He does it in NASCAR with Hendrick (Hendrick Motorsports) and in IndyCar with Penske (Team Penske). They win.

“Look at us: 18 championships in the last 25 years (16 by Force and one each by Hight and Tony Pedregon). This is really big that we’re back with somebody with that mindset.

“That’s the way all the manufacturers think, but Chevrolet got right on this thing when I was out of a job. Peak picked me up, Auto Club with Robert (Hight), Traxxas with Courtney (Force) and Monster with the dragster with Brittany (Force).

“I won with Chevy in the early days, GM, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and I won those championships. I’ve kind of come home. To be back in this car, with these people, it’s really exciting.”

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X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.