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John Force Racing - Team

John Force

DATE OF BIRTH: May 04, 1949
HOMETOWN: Yorba Linda, Calif.
CAREER WINS: 134 FC: 134


There are few professional drivers that have had such an amazing and somewhat illustrious career like John Force. It was his sheer determination; strength and perseverance that helped this legendary drag racer clinch his 16th NHRA® Mello Yello® Funny Car World Championship in 2013.

In retrospect, 2013 was an uphill battle for John Force. To say it was a dogfight for just going rounds, let alone winning races would be an understatement. In the thick of it, the legendary John Force reshuffled his crew chiefs and teams much to the chagrin of his competition. Some racers even doubted John’s ability to stay in the game and felt his best days as a competitor were in the rearview mirror. Little did they know this iconic driver had a plan and was well on his way to winning his 16th NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Championship.

Maybe it was John’s humble beginnings of being the youngest of five siblings with his fry cook mom and truck driving dad. He overcame childhood polio to become the quarterback of his high school football team only to lose every game he played for three seasons.

However, that didn’t discourage John to follow his dreams and achieve his goals in life. If anything, it taught the 2013 champ a valuable life lesson to never give up, especially when he began his racing career way back in 1974. It was on a tour of Australia that the novice John Force experienced his first catastrophic mechanic failure of his hard charging Funny Car as flames engulfed the fiberglass body. Exiting the burning wreck, John was okay but he would later tell fans for decades, “I’ve been on fire from here to Australia,”.

John Force’s reputation as “disaster on four wheels” was prevalent among the established Funny Car racers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. For nine long seasons, he didn’t win a single NHRA tour event and was looked down upon as a half-baked racer that blows up his engine and throws parts all over the track. Starting his racing career with less than stellar reputation as a serious competitor, who could have imagined that John Force would become the most prolific winning driver in NHRA history.

Behind every good racer is a spouse that helps do whatever it takes to get the car down the race track. John’s wife, Laurie, met John when he was get beat every weekend at drag strips across the country. Laurie knew what she signed up for and the fact she was a team member that packed the parachutes, mixed the fuel and backed the car proved her love and dedication to her husband and his dreams. With virtually no encouragement from anyone, Laurie even suggested that John should quit but then realized that she and John were in this for the long haul through good times and bad.

It wasn’t until 1985 and the arrival of Austin Coil as crew chief that John Force’s career began to get traction. With his newly acquired sponsors, Coca-Cola and Wendy’s, fellow racers began to take John’s Corvette Funny Car seriously. Things really got into high-gear when a year later, John Force signed his first contract with Castrol GTX for a modest $5,000 plus oil.

It’s this fighting spirit within John’s soul that has had him putting on his fire suit and strapping himself into the seat of a nitro Funny Car for over three decades. Force has won more rounds, more races and more championships than anyone. He’s sold more souvenirs, given more motivational speeches and delivered more memorable one-liners. Furthermore, with Castrol, his sponsor since 1986, he’s closing in on the record for the longest continuous marketing relationship in sports.

Even through the darkest days of Force’s racing career such as the tragic and sudden death of his friend and teammate Eric Medlin along with John’s own crippling accident at Dallas, both in 2007, John never threw in the towel. If anything, he was more determined to make these 8,000 horsepower Funny Cars safer. Even though it’s about winning, John knows it’s also about safety. With daughters Ashley, Brittany and Courtney behind the wheel of their own supercharged race cars, John makes sure they’re as safe as possible.

Anything aspect that sets John Force apart from those who have dominated in other fields, from sports to business to politics, is his longevity. We also know John’s not ready to climb out of the driver’s seat anytime soon as it’s Best Miles Ahead for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car Champion.

He has been a Top 10 finisher for 29 consecutive seasons, an NHRA record, and has won a tour event in 25 of the last 26 years, failing to do so only in 2009, two years after surviving a potentially fatal accident at Dallas, Texas.

Such success led in 2012 to his enshrinement as a first ballot inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala. He also is a member of the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich., and in 1996 was the first drag racer ever recognized as Driver of the Year for all of American motor racing.

For 2014, the familiar Castrol GTX® High Mileage® paint scheme will be on John Force’s Mustang Funny Car as he sets out to claim an unprecedented 17th NHRA Funny Car championship. While this is no easy task for any driver, John is ready to take on the challenge. With over 8000-horsepower at his command, John can rest assure that when he steps on the throttle, his engine is protected by our great products that are up to the task of him getting him to his 17th world title.

So far in 2014, John Force in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang has set both ends of the NHRA record with a 3.965 second ET at over 324 miles per hour while winning the NHRA Winternationals. John also was runner-up to Robert Hight at the NHRA Gatornationals. Currently, he just trails his fellow teammate, son-in-law and president of John Force Racing Inc., Robert Hight but it’s a long season and we know John will surpass his record of a 139 NHRA Funny Car wins before too long.


Jimmy Prock
Crew Chief

Jimmy Prock once was considered the best crew chief never to have won an NHRA championship. Now the introspective 47-year-old with the go-for-the-jugular mentality may be the sport’s best crew chief, period. At the very least, he is one of the most innovative high performance mavens of his generation.

Having won the NHRA Funny Car championship in 2009 with Robert Hight and then winning again in 2013 with John Force, Prock no longer need address questions about his inability to “win it all.”

In 2013 Prock took over tuning duties for Force after a mid-season team swap orchestrated by the team owner that saw Prock leave long time driver Robert Hight. He tuned the winningest driver in NHRA history to five consecutive final rounds in the Countdown including three wins in a row to clinch Force’s 16th Mello Yello Funny Car championship.

Four year previously he direct Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang to victory in half the races in the NHRA’s 2009 Countdown to 1 playoffs, he secured a 1-2 finish for John Force Racing, Inc., that earned the sport’s dominant Funny Car team its 16th title in 20 seasons.

“His cars have always run low ET and big speed,” Hight said. “Performance has never been a problem, but now he’s learned to race smart and that’s gotta be scary for everyone else out there.”

Now, Prock will return as the crew chief for a reinvigorated Force who will be return to the familiar Castrol GTX High Mileage look for 2014. Although it uses a John Force Racing-developed Ford BOSS 500 engine for power, the 8,000 horsepower Ford has racked up numbers more worthy of rocket science.

In fact, Prock has tuned Hight to the quickest times in Funny Car history – 4.636 seconds at the quarter mile distance and 4.005 seconds at 1,000 feet on the way to a mind-boggling 18 victories and 38 No. 1 starts. He also tuned Force to his first three second pass in Reading and the first sub four second pass in Auto Club Raceway at Pomona history in the 2013 season finale.

Prock’s championship breakthrough came, surprisingly enough, in a season in which he struggled more than he has in any other in his career.

Trying to work through mechanical issues resulting from yet another detour from conventional wisdom, he almost didn’t get his car into the playoffs. Once he did, it was lights out. Hight won three of six Countdown races to become the first driver in any category to win from the No. 10 starting position.

Before claiming the 2009 Full Throttle title, Prock twice had lost championships by less than one racing round. On both occasions, the difference-maker was a race not run. He finished second with Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan in 1992, losing the title by nine points when the team opted NOT to attend a race in Montreal, Canada.

In 2007, Prock and Hight were second by 19 points in a season in which they withdrew from one race in the wake of teammate Eric Medlen’s fatal testing accident.

Even before he won the title, Prock already was one of the most respected tuners in the sport; his cars among the most feared.

Despite his reputation for “all-or-nothing” performance, the soft-spoken Prock has shown remarkable consistency since he accepted his first crew chief job in 1991. In 20 professional seasons, he never has failed to put a driver in the Top 10. Furthermore, he has won multiple tour events for 15 straight years including three or more in each his last five campaigns with Hight and the Auto Club.

In fact, since his arrival at JFR in 2001, Prock has fostered a reputation for winning big stakes races based largely on his success in the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis., Ind., drag racing’s equivalent of NASCAR’s Daytona 500. He first won that race in 2004 with driver Gary Densham and has put Hight in the finals four of the last five years with wins in 2006 and 2008.

The current partnership works so well because, as a former crewman, Hight can communicate with Prock on a purely mechanical level better than any of his previous drivers. The downside was supposed to have been that Hight never before had driven competitively, a shortcoming that obviously was greatly overstated.

Not that Prock’s success should surprise anyone. He started going to the races with his dad, Tom, when he was only 11, but it wasn’t until the family moved to California that he decided to make his career in the sport. Working with veteran Ronnie Swearingen, he helped put independent Funny Car driver John Martin in two finals before a 1989 bout with diabetes almost ended his career – and his life.

“I didn’t know what I had and we just kept going,” Prock recalled. “I just kept getting sicker and finally I went to the doctor. We were in Phoenix. I really couldn’t even function. When I came home, the doctor looked at me and just put me right in the hospital. They put IVs right in me. They said I was about ready to go into a coma.”

Today, he manages the situation through diet and insulin shots. Once his health stabilized, Prock went to work with Dick LaHaie, from whom he learned the dragster business, and in 1991 he hooked up with Cory Mac. When sponsorship became a problem for McClenathan, Prock moved to Joe Amato’s where he won 18 races in five-and-a-half years.

Ryan Heileson
Team Leader

Nickname (If any): Bryan Ryan
Birthdate: 10/12/1981
Hometown: Idaho Falls, ID
Current Residence: Indianapolis, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing: 2005
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: A couple of friends from home worked at JFR

Team Responsibilities: Team Leader

Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/working at JFR: being in a new city every week, Jonny’s cooking

Career Highlights: winning Indy in 2008, winning the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championship in 2009

Favorite Track/Race: Las Vegas

Hobbies/Interests: snow machining, hunting, camping, bowling, kite flying, decorating, collecting cookie jars, dirt bikes, Shetland ponies

Justin Covarrubias

Nickname (If any)
Birthdate: 05/24/1982
Hometown: El Dorado Springs, MO
Current Residence: Brownsburg, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing: 2008
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: When he was a kid, he traveled with his stepfather, Phil McGee's Top Fuel Dragster team.

Background (education/work/racing experience): He began working at McGee Racing Cams building Junior Dragsters and Junior Dragster engines. He also raced Junior Dragsters for 7 years and super comp for 3 years.

Team Responsibilities: cylinder heads

Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/working at JFR: working for the best team in drag racing and being around all of the good friends he’s made here

Career Highlights: winning Indy with Robert in 2008; winning the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championship in 2009

Favorite Track/Race: Pomona and Brainerd

Hobbies/Interests: bowling, cars, racing, playing pool

Joe Diasio

Birthdate: 09/28/1989
Hometown: Parma, OH
Current Residence: Indianapolis, IN
Year Hired at John Force Racing: 2009
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: When he was growing up, he was always into cars and he built his own car at 16. He continued to have a passion for cars and decided that racing is where he wanted to be.

Background (education/work/racing experience): While in high school, he attended a 2 year vocational school for auto mechanics. He enjoyed the work in his auto classes, so he decided to further his education in that particular field. He attended another 2 year program at Ohio Technical College specializing in high performance.

Team Responsibilities: superchargers
Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/ working at JFR: great facility with great people, everyone is very helpful, being with the best team in the NHRA

Career Highlights: being team welder, having the privilege to work with John Force, winning his first race after blowing up in Denver

Favorite Track/ Race: Norwalk, OH

Hobbies/Interests: Building imports, playing video games, welding, fast cars

Tim Dillon

Birthdate: 02/02/1982
Hometown: Nicktown, PA
Current Residence: Brownsburg, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing: 2007
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: His father was a drag racer

Background (education/work/racing experience): Attended University of Northwestern Ohio for High Performance Automotive and has worked for Jim Head Racing, Hartman Racing, Cruz Pedregon Racing, and Cory Mac

Team Responsibilities: Bottom end and short blocks

Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/working at JFR: the opportunity to work with the state of the art cars and equipment and traveling the country

Career Highlights: winning Indy with Robert, winning the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championship in 2009

Favorite Track/Race: Reading and Bristol

Hobbies/Interests: bowling, skiing, riding motorcycles, dirt bikes, spending time with his family

Sam Fabiano

Birthdate: 03/15/1982
Hometown: Lansing, MI
Current Residence: Brownsburg, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing: 2005
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: Jimmy Prock and he grew up around racing

Background (education/work/racing experience): He graduated from Michigan State University

Team Responsibilities: left side, floater

Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/working at JFR: working with and spending time with friends and family at JFR and having the opportunity to learn from the best

Career Highlights: winning the US Nationals twice; having the 2 quickest ¼ mile E.T.s in funny car history; winning the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championship

Favorite Track/Race: Indy, Las Vegas, Charlotte

Hobbies/Interests: golf, sleeping, watching movies, basketball, R/C Cars, playing with his dog, Rocco

Nathan Hildahl

Nickname (If any): Nate
Birthdate: 08/01/1990
Hometown: Northfield, MN
Current Residence: Brownsburg, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing: 2013
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: He started racing Junior Dragster at age 8

Background (education/work/racing experience): Attended Wyotech and has been bracket racing for the last 7 years.

Team Responsibilities: Body and Tires

Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/working at JFR: traveling and get to race almost every weekend

Career Highlights:

Favorite Track/Race: Brainerd

Hobbies/Interests: skiing, concerts, bracket racing

Alex Liggett

Nickname (If any): Al
Birthdate: 10/19/1980
Hometown: Lincoln, KS
Current Residence: Brownsburg, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing: 2005
Which Team (s): John Force (Castrol GTX)

How did you get involved in drag racing: He started going with his family to the races in Topeka and fell in love with the sport and decided that was what he wanted to do for a career.

Background (education/work/racing experience): He attended WyoTech and Jerry Caminito's Blue Thunder Nitro School and then went to work for Skuza Motorsports in 2003

Team Responsibilities: clutch specialist

Favorite part about being involved with drag racing/working at JFR: being able to be a part of a very successful organization and getting the opportunity to work with so many good, talented people

Career Highlights: winning Indy twice in 4 seasons; having the 2 quickest Funny Car quarter mile runs in history; winning the Fuel Funny Car Championship in 2009

Favorite Track/Race: Las Vegas

Hobbies/Interests: bowling, classic cars, hanging out with friends and family, dancing, movies


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