Five minutes of Force talking about the March Meet

(Mark Rebilas photo)

When John Force speaks, most people listen. They kind of have to: the 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion and all-time winningest drag racer is anything but subtle. He’s loud, fast, funny, engaging, loud, passionate, poignant, clever, nostalgic, smart, real and yes, really loud. Imagine talking to a tornado and you get the idea.

Reporter Bill Groak chatted with Force recently regarding his role as Grand Marshal of the 52nd running of the March Meet, Mar. 5-7 at historic Auto Club Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, Calif. In the interview, which Groak described as “a triple-shot of espresso,” Force bounced around a bit, touching on his memories of the fabled March Meet, racing (and struggling) in the old days and the popularity of nostalgia drag racing.

: How does it feel to be the Grand Marshal of the 2010 March Meet?

John Force: I’m really honored and excited. It’s the March Meet. Auto Club CEO Tom McKernan is a big fan of it and he’s been asking me to go for years, but I always seem to be busy so I haven’t been able to go up there. Always wanted to, and now I am. It’ll be an exciting time. The March Meet is unbelievable. I’ve heard it’s huge now. I used to race there in (Steve) Plueger-sponsored cars back in the early days. Plueger and I go way back. I remember competing and there were so many big-name drivers like Snake and Mongoose running, they didn’t include new drivers like me in the program. So my name was never printed. When sponsors asked, I’d tell them I was listed in the ‘and many more’ section. That’s the truth.

But I really can’t wait to go and see all the cars. I’m glad Auto Club has invested in Famoso and the March Meet. McKernan’s real passionate about its history. I’ll be rooting for Plueger. God bless ’em all. I’m going to Bakersfield!