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NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 3, 2014


John Force


THE MODERATOR:¬† Next up we have John Force, driver of the Castrol High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car, Force Racing.¬† No. 1 seed in the Countdown with three wins and six runner‑up finishes.¬† He also has five No. 1 qualifying positions this year.¬† He was the No. 1 seed in 2010 and has 16 Funny Car World Championships.
Except for kind of a few races this season, your car has been so consistent, one of the strongest ones within the field.  How hard is it to keep up that high level of consistency all season long? 
JOHN FORCE:  We work as a team.  If you look at my Traxxas Ford with Courtney and Robert Hight in the Auto Club, and me with Castrol, we work as a team.  I think we've been in the last seven or eight final rounds.  We won a bunch of them.
Robert has won this Charlotte race, you know, the four‑lane.¬† And then he won the regular two‑lane at the beginning of the Countdown the last two times he's been there.¬†
I got hot at the beginning of the year.¬† I struggled.¬† We got hot again.¬† And something happened at testing.¬† We tried some stuff, got off our game.¬† I had to run the three‑in‑one against Taft, and he took me out.¬† And then we got back on our game with the Traxxas, got the win there.¬†
And the DeJoria girl, doing a great job, took me out in the final at Indy.  I didn't like it, but her dad did.  So I've got girls, too, and I was excited for her.  I didn't like losing.  But now that's all gone.  Indy's over.  It's all about the Countdown. 
I need a championship as much as the other drivers out there want it.  And my focus is going to be dead on.

Q.¬† In one of your post‑run interviews you made a comment that Castrol, you're still working with Castrol on maybe putting something together and extending the sponsorship.¬† With having the fantastic year you've had, going in as the No. 1 seed, does that help you in your bid to make that happen?
JOHN FORCE:  Understand something:  Castrol and Ford have been nothing but good to me.  We don't know if it's over.  It's a matter that they allowed me to go looking.  I've been talking to every manufacturer in Detroit, all the way to the other ones outside. 
Castrol, you know, a lot of things we're looking at, maybe not a car but maybe as the official oil.  But we're talking to other companies about it.  The ones that you know. 
We're just trying to stay in business.  Yeah, I made a statement on TV, I oughta get out of the seat and I oughta be chasing money.  I owe my kids to find the money.  I work with JMI.  They're a great group.  Jon Flack, these guys work night and day to keep me in business.  And we've got a lot of deals on the table and we've signed some.  But we're not where we want to be.
What I was getting at is I was entertaining all weekend at Indy, and I was running around with sponsors when I should have been focusing on my car.¬† And I still went back and my daughter Ashley had to warm the car up.¬† I got back in the car, of course won the Traxxas.¬† I made the statement in emotion in winning Robert Hight.¬† It was like I ought to be chasing money.¬† I didn't mean I was quitting.¬† If I don't get the money to race, I will have to quit because my daughter‑‑ Courtney has a deal with Traxxas.¬† Robert with Auto Club, they're all strong.¬† Brittany and I don't.¬†
And Brittany is going to race ahead of me.  I made that promise to her, to her mother, and that's where it's going.  But we're working to make it.  And it's our job, our responsibility. 
We're big boys.  We're going to stay in business and right now the focus is to win this championship to show them that John Force Racing is strong.
We were lucky enough to get around Robert Hight.  We got the lead.  But always remember this:  I won from the cellar going into the Countdown and so has Robert.  Having a few points lead's, nothing, makes you feel good. 
But right now I don't feel good any day of the week I wake up.  I have a job to do.  I owe my children.  I owe the fans and I owe the sponsors that are with me to stay in business.  And I owe NHRA.  And I'm going to do it.

Q.  I'm just curious, how do you balance the concerns of being a competitive racer and the other stuff you're doing with the business?  Are there enough hours in the day for you?
JOHN FORCE:  There's not.  That's the problem.  I haven't been home in six weeks.  I went home for one day to do a fishing trip with Tom McKernan of Auto Club. 
Robert right back back here at Indy.  I leave here tomorrow, I head to Canada.  I'm in Indy right now.  I'm not going home.  My laundry guy is a joke.  He's shipping my clothes ahead of me to cities, suits and ties and stuff I gotta do, because I'm generating revenue in other markets.
I'm trying to move back into Canada.  I was up at London, Ontario.  I'm looking at Edmonton and Calgary next year.  On the West Coast, I'm going to Montreal this week for four days.  I'll be at the racetrack doing press conferences for Canadian Racing League. 
So that's up there just trying to build money, trying to get back in a market to have people look at it because we've gotta go global.
It's just not enough‑‑ every sponsor says do you do anything out of the country, anything in Mexico?¬† We've gotta do it all.¬† That's why I'm working.¬† It's keeping me overloaded.¬† But Robert has taken over as president half the company. ¬†And he runs the day‑to‑day business and I chase the money.

Q.  John, I've been fortunate to ask questions to great stars like you.  Earlier this year I got to ask Larry King, and I mentioned to him probably nobody knows more about asking questions than him.  And I got to thinking, it's like almost nobody knows more about winning than John Force.  Could you talk a little bit about that?
JOHN FORCE:  Did you say Larry King?  A guy that's got bad hair like me.  The boxing promoter, is that who you're talking about.

Q.  No. 
JOHN FORCE:  That's Don King.  Larry King, the TV guy.  The talk show.  He's got bad hair like me, too.  What was the question? 

Q.  Like Larry King, probably nobody knows more about questions than Larry King.  Probably nobody knows more about winning than you, and your comment on that. 
JOHN FORCE:  Like Larry King, I don't do religion.  I don't do politics.  I don't go to places that I don't know.  I talk drag racing. 
And bottom line, winning, there's more to it.¬† You gotta have good sponsor money, which we have.¬† Peak Antifreeze come onboard this year.¬† I've got new people joining us.¬† Mac Tools re‑signed with us.¬† You have to have money and then you buy the right people.
But the key to that is being a team effort.  Everybody has to work together.  And that means they really gotta work together.  If a car's in trouble and like us looking at budgets, got 115 employees.  I'm having to cut some people and some of them are from the race teams.
But the other teams, we can't all be in the final.  So the other teams will have to join to make up for the people that we lose off that team.  We won't lose them if we generate more revenue.  But if we don't that's why I'm taking these shows around the country.
And the point is once you get to a point where you've got a machine with a guy like Jimmy Prock and Mike Neff and John Medlen, Dean Antonelli, Ron Douglas, the list goes on, Todd Smith. 
When you get the best, then you gotta have a driver that can drive the race car, a driver like me.  I'm teaching my daughters.  Robert knows the game real good.  But I study the other drivers. 
And I watched this DeJoria girl evolve.  I was really excited about her, even when she whooped me, because the sport needs the women. 
My daughters, I want them to evolve the same way.  The kid, it was her day.  She did everything right.  God bless her.  Her dad loves her, just like I love my kids.  And you can't be mad because somebody beats you and got the job done. 
But I'll be ready for her next time, even if she beats me again, but I'll keep driving.  But the point is you gotta have heart.  You gotta love getting up every day.  You gotta love the need for speed to sit on that start line. 
I'm stressed all day and I'm at a point where my wife says you look like you're going to pop.  And all of a sudden the body goes down on that race car, the motor fires and there's another human being inside of me that all the world, all the pain, all the stress is gone because finally for those few minutes out there you do what you love to do.  It's all about heart.  It's all about winning.  It's all about the fans.  That's what it's all about.  And I've never lost that. 
If I retired, I would go get me a car and I'd go racing.  Even if it was a hobby, because when I drove a truck, I worked all week.  Here's my 40 hours and then went and raced all weekend.  Never slept.  I lived it.  I loved it that much.  You gotta, if you are going to be a champion. 
Nobody knows winning more than me.  I surround myself with good people.  I treat them with respect.  If I have a bad day and I get mad, I apologize.  But at the end it's from a love of what I do. 
I'm the luckiest man on the earth that I can drive these race cars and now I get to be with my family and my grandkids at every national event.  It's awesome.  Does that answer that? 

Q.  At the Shootout, with the fans, you walked over and you shared that trophy with the fans.  Talk a little bit about that.  That's a nice gesture. 
JOHN FORCE:¬† So many fans will call me or they'll e‑mail.¬† I don't e‑mail, but my people will tell you, they've never seen a champ ring up close.¬† They've never seen a trophy, an NHRA win trophy or a championship trophy.¬† Never seen the Traxxas.¬† I won the first Traxxas Shootout, got the 100 grand back then.
We were towing back.  We were going to go to the stage, do the typical deal, and all of a sudden, it was:  No, stop right here. 
And I gotta admit it, what motivates me‑‑ and I walked into the gym in Indy the other day and people were clapping yesterday, like what's going on, because they were at the races.¬†
And man, just my energy went up.¬† I was Superman.¬† I got on the treadmill.¬† I got working out.¬† That's how I keep myself to race with the kid.¬† But I'll tell you, even though I was calm and cool and everybody is like:¬† Were you upset because you lost?¬† No, I was proud of that kid because I got girls‑‑ DeJoria‑‑ but what I didn't want to do was jump up and down and make it look like I didn't care if I lost.¬†
It was all I could do to hold in the deal.  I wanted to hug her and hug her dad.  I went back over to winner's circle because I like winning.  When I watch somebody circle like they have and watch them win, I'm excited about that, because that's what the game's all about. 
And there I am with this big old giant trophy.  I just wanted to whip it out and show it to the fans.  I held it up over my head.
I'm in pretty good shape for an older guy.¬† And they shared‑‑ they screamed.¬† It gave me goosebumps on the back of my neck. ¬†I could have stood there for an hour.¬†
And later the calls we got:  Thank you for sharing; you made us part of that Traxxas win, and that's what it's all about.  That's what does it for me.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports



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