Drag racing legend John Force hospitalized after fiery 300-mph Funny Car crash

The engine of the 75-year-old racer's Funny Car failed and exploded in flames at Virginia Motorsports Park.

John Force, of Yorba Linda, waves at the Thunder Valley Nationals on June 9, 2024 at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee.

Southern California drag racing legend John Force was alert and talking to safety workers immediately after a fiery 300-mph crash Sunday in the Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.

The 75-year-old Force, who was born in Bell Gardens and lives in Yorba Linda, was examined by an NHRA medical team before he was airlifted from the track, according to a statement from John Force Racing. An update posted by the team Monday said Force remained in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Virginia, but that he was recovering well.

The team said it anticipates his return for this weekend's event in Ohio.

Force was on his first-round run in Funny Car eliminations when the engine exploded at the finish line. The car crossed the strip's centerline and slammed into the driver's side left concrete guard wall. The car then careened back across the track and hit the other wall.

John Force Racing teammate Austin Prock won Sunday's Funny Car division, topping Bob Tasca III in the final round.

"(The trophy) is going straight to the hospital to John Force," Prock said in the winners’ circle. "It's just tough to see somebody go through that, especially when it's somebody you really care about, but I know he’ll be back. We're race car drivers and we have to flip the switch. I know John wanted us to be out here, going rounds and I’m glad we did our job.”

Force, who won a record 157th NHRA race three weeks ago in New Hampshire, was seriously injured in 2007 at age 58 in another crash in Ennis, Texas. He is pursuing his 17th NHRA Funny Car championship after winning the series' first eight races. He stands in second place behind Prock in the driver's championship.

Daughter Brittany Force, 37, is a two-time NHRA Drag Racing Series Top Fuel dragster champion. She also was competing in Sunday's event.

Daughters Courtney Fallon Force-Rahal and Ashley Corinne Force Hood also competed in the NHRA Funny Car series.

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