Roger Gorringe: Your
plans for 2006, I guess it's to recapture the title?
John Force: We're in the
development to build an all-Ford motor, NHRA-spec motor. We've
been given the equipment by a company called Fadal, Fadal
Machinery Giddings and Lewis. It's a worldwide corporation
that will take us into the market. We've got a big machine
shop in LA. We build our own blowers, our own heads, clutches,
but now we're gonna build the block. Because we want an all-Ford
motor and yet we have to fit underneath the NHRA...this won't
be a Chrysler design, everything evolved from the Chrysler.
This will be a Ford-spec motor by our brain trust, it's an
exciting new time to grow because the financing's there, because
who can afford to go out and buy ten million dollars' worth
of equipment to build machinery? I went after a sponsorship
six years ago, I said I'll supply the money for the suppliers
to buy the manpower, and they'll work with us with technology,
and Fadal Giddings and Lewis will supplied the equipment,
that's two huge companies worldwide. And Ford's really into
wait 'til you see our new Mustang! It's an '05 and it's gonna
hit in a few weeks and it's completely different. It's longer,
we built a shorter Mustang believe it or not, our tail end
is real short with a wing that overhangs a foot and a half,
by the code. Well now we've gone back to the longer body and
shorter wing. We went to the wider car in front for downforce,
that's when we got into all the steering problems years ago,
couldn't make the car steer it was too wide, too much downforce.
And it bent all the steering apparatus. We couldn't figure
out what was wrong, the chassis builders didn't know what
was wrong. The downforce was so great that it would bend the
main steering rod to the front - when you steered it, you
couldn't turn the tyres because the downforce was so great.
We had to go to bigger steering rods made out of titanium,
Andy Bissett, the clutch guy on Ashley's team, is a friend
of mine and he asked me to ask you about the chef you have
on the road. Apparently this guy is legendary.
John Force: Johnny. Johnny
the cook. We had stopped in the middle of the race, and I
had got into eating hot dogs on race day, breaking them up
in four. And when Johnny first went to work for us - and he's
worked for the Las Vegas track, he's worked for everybody,
right? This guy can cook like you can't imagine. And I came
out of the bus and I said "Johnny, on raceday I always
have a hot dog, 'cos I don't eat but I can take a bite. And
I am coffee'd up, Powerade, it's really what I drink, right?
And Johnny ran to the snack bar to get me a hot dog and a
photographer took a picture said "He had this hot dog
and he ran into one of them little Portapotties with the hot
dog". He came back and gave me the hot dog, I took a
bite out of it, and I said "That was the best hot dog
I ever ate!". And it was kind of a joke from Johnny.
And they had a photograph of him running in the outhouse -
he had to run in there and pee. I said "You never switched
hands, did ya?". And anyway it became a big joke but
I got to know the kid and he's one of the finest chefs ever.
I mean, he can make you like asparagus. That's something I
would never eat. I'd say he's internationally-known. And you
know what, I bought a house in Lake Tahoe, my wife and I built
a house up there the last couple of years, and we went in
to a pub and there was Johnny. I said "What are you doing
here?", he said "I cook here". On your one
vacation of the year for three weeks, he went home to Tahoe
to cook! I didn't even know where he was from. But that's
where he lives, in Tahoe City. And he's quite an individual.
What was the question again?
was it, you answered that one!
Roger Gorringe: I've
asked Eric, and he's given me his answer. When you're driving
at night, how aware are you of all the photographers' flashes
John Force: At night - and
that's why I don't let my daughter drive the Funny Car at
night when she tests, she's probably only made ten runs -
you can't see at night. When you get clutch dust and tyre
shake, a lot of drivers come back and say "My God, the
lighting's bad at this track!" and I wanna laugh. The
lighting's not that bad, you just can't see in the dark. There's
an old joke: "Drive between the flames". Photographers
- probably twice in my career at night I've got a flashbulb
from a photographer make me leave. Right at the time you click
on both bulbs, if a guy hits you...it's called "Seat
of your pants driving" and you react to what you're trained.
I've hit the throttle and I knew it was a screw-up before
the Tree came down, probably twice in my career the photographers
have set me off. But we race mostly in the daytime, and so
what you do is you blank it. You won't notice it in the daytime
but I've had it happen at night. But you take a kid like Ashley
who's never seen it, or Eric, it can be very like "My
God! What's going on?". I don't know, it depends on your
focus, on your tunnel vision, so I'd say maybe twice in my
career in the early days.