John Force is officially pulling the plug on his John Force Racing team for the remainder of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season.
After his team unexpectedly missed back-to-back return races at Lucas Oil Raceway with not so much as a press release or explanation for his massive fan base, Force announced today he was parking his team for the rest of the season.
That means not only is Force conceding that he's not running for his 17th Funny Car championship, but it also means the end of the season for the rest of his stable, including defending Funny Car champion Robert Hight, past Top Fuel champion Brittany Force and up-and-coming Top Fuel star Austin Prock.
Force, 71, said that the NHRA shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic simply made it impossible to honor sponsor agreements and to be fair to the partners who have been loyal to him. He plans to bring his team back "strong than ever" to NHRA competition in 2021.
Force released the following statement on Monday:
“When I first got into racing, I always had a love for cars, I loved the camaraderie of the team, I loved the competition," said Force, owner and CEO of John Force Racing. "As I evolved, I realized what it took to become a winner. It took money and that’s when I started chasing corporate America. I had no personal wealth, I had to find sponsors to get me the crew chiefs I needed to win.
“As the winning happened, I found a new love. The fans. The fans are what kept me motivated and made me never ever think anything would come to an end. Even in the hardest of times, I call them crossroads, I got through it with the help of the fans and my sponsors. I went from a one car team to a multi-car team, to having machine shops, chassis shops and paint shops and the technology to win.
“Suddenly, the virus hit, and it changed the world. Robert Hight, president of the company, and I got back from Gainesville and we started working on a plan, we had to reset John Force Racing. Everyone was having to adapt. We had to make cuts everywhere. We ran numbers over and over. In our contracts with sponsors we have guarantees. They get social media, certain number of races, certain number of race days, activation at races and other commitments. No matter how I looked at it I couldn’t deliver on those commitments. It just wasn’t fair to them. The impact of not being able to deliver on these commitments makes sitting out the rest of the 2020 season the right thing to do. No matter how I looked at it, no matter how much I personally invested, I couldn’t make it.
“At that point, I made the decision to ‘live to fight another day.’ We can’t fight now, we can’t race right now, but with what I have, with the help of my sponsors and my own personal money, I can maintain. I have to protect my family, my employees, my teams and my sponsors. What I built was a team that could win. All I have to do is get to next year. It will look different, but I have all my department leads and my sponsors, Auto Club, Chevrolet, PEAK, Monster, Frank Tiegs owner of Flav-R-Pac and Montana Brand, Cornwell Tools, Parker Store, Baldwin Filters, they’re all supportive.
“What I’m saying is that I’m going to prepare to come back next year stronger than ever. Watching all the people that went racing, NHRA, the track, Safety Safari, TV, the media, all the winners, all the teams, thank you for racing and keeping the sport alive. I am really heartbroken I’m not out there. If I had stayed and raced, I couldn’t come back. If I step back now, I can.
"I want to be with all of you again and I want to be competitive. We will continue to support all our sponsors, doing their promotions as planned and stay relevant on social media for the fans; we are going to continue to build race cars, as we always have, build engines, mount bodies, parts and do everything we can because we are open for business in Indy and California."