NHRA legend John Force was 'conscious and talking' after 'catastrophic engine failure' led to crash, team says


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National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) legend John Force was “conscious and talking” to safety officials following his horrific crash at the Virginia Nationals on Sunday, his team said.

Force was taken to a hospital after the wreck.

Force was in his Funny Car riding down the track, like he had done thousands of times before, when his engine exploded, causing him to veer across the centerline and into the wall. His vehicle crossed back over the line and hit the guard wall again.

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John Force, of Yorba Linda, California, driving a JFR 500 Peak Chevy ’22 Camaro SS prior to second round qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at the Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee. (David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“During the first round of Funny Car eliminations at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals on Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park, John Force’s Funny Car suffered an engine explosion at the finish line and then crossed the centerline, striking both guard walls before coming to a stop,” the NHRA said.

“Force was alert and was examined onsite by the NHRA Medical Team before being transported to a local medical facility for further evaluation.”

John Force Racing described his vehicle as having “catastrophic engine failure” after he crossed the finish line at 302 mph.

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NHRA funny car driver John Force with daughter Brittany Force during the Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, on May 18, 2024. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The wreck came as Force picked up an NHRA record 157th win three weeks ago. He won No. 156 back in April.

“We’re keeping our pal John Force in our thoughts and prayers. He’s one tough cookie,” NASCAR great Tony Stewart, who races in NHRA’s Top Fuel class, wrote on X.

Austin Prock, Force’s teammate, won the event later Sunday.

“(The trophy) is going straight to the hospital to John Force,” he said.

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NHRA Funny Car driver John Force during qualifying for the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee, on June 8, 2024. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

“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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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