Drag racing fans today know John Force as the most decorated professional drag racer to ever compete on the quarter mile. They also know him as the ultimate showman, one that will stop at nothing to get himself, his daughter, and his sponsors on television, increasingly to the displeasure of the viewing public.
But before John Force became a household name by earning a record 15 NHRA Funny Car championships and an all-time leading 132 career national events, John Force was a showman of a different kind. Throughout the early 1990’s, if there was a guardrail to hit, John Force knocked it right out of its foundation. If there was a fiberglass Funny Car body to torch, Force burned it to smithereens. And on a Saturday afternoon in Pomona in late October of 1992, Force managed something you don’t see very often – or ever – in a flopper: he put it on its lid.
Locked in a tight battle with newcomer Cruz Pedregon for the 1992 Funny Car title, Force was leaving nothing on the table as the NHRA Winston Finals commenced in Pomona, a evident by his upside excursion down the LA Fairplex quarter mile. Alongside independent runner Wyatt Radke, Force’s mount kicked the tires loose just past the Christmas tree and, keeping his foot on the loud pedal just a hair too long, hooked hard left and onto it’s roof while missing the right rear of Radke’s machine by inches.
Force’s Oldsmobile Cutlass slid down the track on its roof as if on ice, coming to rest near the finish line on its top. Obviously dejected but always the showman, Force climbed from the cockpit and stood atop the car, waving to the fans letting everyone know you can’t kick a tough racer down. As we all now know, Pedregon went on to win that ’92 title, but Force obviously did okay for himself in the years after.