Eurodragster.com: Given your career and everything you've
done is there anything that you see you've still got left
to do, or to achieve?
John Force: Yea, get my
championship back. Because I have spoiled my sponsors. We
haven't lost, only to my own driver Tony Pedregon, and it
was his brother in '92 that got me. But it's not about proving.
It's...God, it's the cheer of the crowds, I'm addicted. When
you look back on my career...quick answers, right? I had polio
as a kid, and in 1950 - I was born in '49 - the vaccine didn't
come out 'til the fifties. They thought I had spinal meningitis
and they took me to a Catholic convent in Portland and my
mother said "My kid walked. Just after one year old he
was starting to walk, and then he quit walking. What happened
to him?". And I'd got polio. And there was no cure. Hot
baths. And that's why the movie...the movie that I've already
written, the opening of the book and the movie is about this
little trailer park in the middle of nowhere, and the dad
throws the mother out the front door of the trailer because
she's the mother, she's the crier, she's the lovable affectionate
individual, and the dad's a mean son of a bitch and he held
me under the tub, 'cos the only cure they had was circulation.
They soaked you in scalding hot water. Before the fifties,
if you had polio or spinal meningitis, to get circulation
heat was the only way to save you.
And that's how the movie opens so this young kid was like
his dad: tough, mean, but he was like the mother, very loving.
And that's how I build a race team. And that is where the
opening of the show - it's already written. If you ask Densmore
"Where does the show open?", if he gets a little
bit lost, say "What about the trailer park?" and
he'll go into that because he knows where it goes and my brother
is writing the first part of the movie, but Densmore knows
it 'cos he's heard me pitch it. And we told that to Stephen
Hopkins. And he was like "Wow! That is great". Every
movie has to have an opening: where did you come from, what
made you the way that you are.
So in the process of that, boy I got totally lost! What was
Eurodragster.com: The question was do you feel you've got
anything left to achieve?
John Force: Boy, I got way
off-track didn't I? But when I was a kid, when I went to play
football in school, in fifth grade I wasn't any good. 'Cos
I couldn't run. So I went and played tackle football, where
my aggressiveness would make me good. You wore a football
helmet and pads. And I'd play that and I was very good. I
wasn't slow but if I couldn't tackle 'em I'd bite 'em in the
leg. And that's why when I went on to high school, and went
on to college, and when I got to college, well, I wasn't so
good because I couldn't keep up. So my uncle said to me one
day, I said "What am I gonna do now?". "What
do you love?". I said "I love the cheer of the crowd,
I love wearing a helmet, because the helmet made me a tiger,
where my aggressiveness could hurt 'em, and a drag racecar
did the running for me. So I put on the helmet, I had the
crowds, and that's how I started.
And I didn't start racing, trust me, my future started at
twenty-four years old. You know, did I go out to the local
drag strip a few times? Yea, Lions and a few of the places,
never raced 'til I went to Australia. Never even had a licence.
My first wife went on Let's Make A Deal, she won the big door,
she won an organ, she said "I'll take the money, you
get the organ." And my uncle that raced Funny Cars, his
car was called the LA Hooker, he was on the Show Car circuit
with Coca Cola back in the early days. And my uncle wanted
his kid to learn how to play the piano, so the joke was I
traded my organ for a racecar. That's funny shit in the States!
So in the middle of that I went to Australia, but I'd never
raced. So my uncle's car was in Australia and he had crashed.
And we took it home and repaired it and we took it out to
Orange County and I didn't have a licence so we parked it
next to Mickey Thompson's US Marine car, sent the photograph
to Australia, and they just thought I was a racer. The header
fire that you see on one side of the car was not header fire.
It was a fifty five gallon drum of water that they poured
in the glue box and it was steaming 'cos it was so cold that
night, it appeared it was header fire over my car. It wasn't
fire, it wasn't smoke. When I got to Australia on the second
day, when the guy realised I couldn't drive, he said "You're
terrible". I didn't know how to do a burnout, and that's
how I met Gary Densham. And in the process, by pure accident,
I set the National speed record, first guy to ever run over
two hundred miles an hour by pure accident! And they couldn't
send me home! The promoter said "I'm obviously stuck
with ya, you're the biggest lying bullshitter I ever met,
the fans totally adore ya, 'cos you stay all night with them
drinking 'til three in the morning". I never had a beer
'til I was twenty five. And I started drinking in Australia,
they drank beer in the morning, lunch and dinner. And all
night. I've been drinking ever since! And that's how it all
started, Australia was the kick-off.
So I owe the international market. And tell 'em one day I'm
coming home. Maybe sooner than they think! 'Cos I'm starting
to realise. The promoters can't afford to pay us to come,
it's the Castrols, BPs and Fords that can. So, I build my
teams here, and when I get a break...my machine runs itself.
Problem is I've got five corporations now, and I gotta run
them all. And if you read the last article in the States that
I just wrote a week ago, it said that I micro-manage. I try
to run everything. From the racecar tune-up all the way to...and
Austin Coil. Next to Castrol it was Austin Coil that changed
my life, twenty two years ago. The Chi Town Hustler. And I
will give credit to him tonight. I've been with him for every
win, but it was Ford, Coil and Castrol that gave us the money...Coil
gave us the technology, the brain trust, and Ford tons of
technology. 'Cos Ford's all about technology. It's amazing.
They don't want an interview at the races, they want to win,
it's two different worlds...anyway I got sidetracked. Short
interview now I'm sorry. I promise!