Funny Car Explosion at 300 MPH Has Drag Racing Legend John Force Hospitalized

John Force is a drag racing legend and one of the most successful men in the sport, even at age 75. Looks like some kind of mechanical failure caused an explosion at speed, sending him into barriers on both sides of the drag strip at Virginia Motorsports Park.
John Force's Funny Car exploding at Virginia Nationals

Drag racing legend John Force, 75, had a catastrophic malfunction in his Funny Car at full noise in the first round of the NHRA Virginia Nationals on Sunday. Force was taken to a hospital where he’s being looked after as of this writing. It’s reported that he was alert and talking to safety workers immediately after the incident, but in the video clip of his extraction, he definitely looked pained.

It’s not yet clear what caused Force’s funny car to explode in the first place, but these things are wound pretty tight. With over 11,000 (yes, eleven thousand) horsepower the stakes are high for every single component. Here’s a clip of the incident that NHRA has released and is making the rounds:

And here’s the NHRA’s official statement:

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


Fox Sports and Yahoo news are saying that the impact happened at 302 mph.

The explosion didn’t even look like the worst aspect of the incident. Once the car went out of control it crossed into the other lane, hit the barrier, and bounced back to the other barrier before finally coming to a stop. The only bit of mercy here for Force and his competitor Terry Haddock is that Haddock was able to slow down enough to keep the two cars from colliding into each other.

Having been active in racing for basically half a century, Force is no stranger to high-stakes speeds and wipeouts. As his bio says, the septuagenarian has “more all-time records than any driver in NHRA history” and is a 16-time Funny Car Champion.


Here’s hoping he heals up OK and quickly. In the past, crashes haven’t convinced him he should retire, but we’ll see what he has to say when his team addresses the public again. Force’s teammate Austin Prock ended up winning the event’s Funny Car division on Sunday, beating Bob Tasca III in the final round of the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals.

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