Austin Coil has been John Force's head tuner in the NHRA Funny Car Series since 1986. That accounts for all of Force's 132 victories and all 15 championships. But Coil won't be around for win No. 133, as he announced his resignation from John Force Racing Wednesday.
“I had not been happy with the financial situation since the reorganization because of the economy,” Coil said during a phone interview on Wednesday, three days after Force won his record-setting 15th National Hot Rod Association world championship at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
Coil said team-owner Force instituted across-the-board pay cuts following the 2009 season, one that saw son-in-law Robert Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock win the organization’s 17th NHRA Funny Car championship in 21 years. But Force went winless in ‘09 during a Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season for the first time since 1986 – first year of the Force-Coil collaboration.
“There were a lot of hard feelings over 2009 because our performance was suffering,” said Coil, 65, who has tuned Force to all of his championships and 132 national event victories. “The end result created some animosities that won’t go away. I’m too old to be sat down and told ‘how it is’ every other day. Overall, there’s no real terrible issues going on. It was just time to go. Kind of like when you’ve been married for 26 years and heard all the (bull manure).”
In his post-championship press conference, Force talked about he and Coil winning again in the future, and on Wednesday admitted that he didn't see Coil's resignation coming.
“I know the rumor mills are going crazy, and I have to address it. But it’s part of what John Force does. My heart’s pounding today over some things that have hurt me real bad, and I don’t understand. I’ve got to go find out.”