I like you, John. I really do. I like your team members and crew chiefs. I like your drivers; Robert Hight, Mike Neff, Courtney, Ashley, Brittany; all have been very nice to me anytime I’ve spoken to them or needed anything, whether as a member of the media or the PR director at a track. John Force Racing is a class act.
Which makes me wonder why your team has suddenly decided that the NHRA Full Throttle Series Winner’s Circle is their personal sandbox. Why won’t you let other drivers in your sandbox, John? There have been six races thus far in the season and JFR have won them all. You, at the Winternationals, Robert took the next FOUR STRAIGHT (definitely a little rude, but whatever), and Zippy entered the fray last weekend in Houston.
On paper, you have a weakness: Courtney. She’s a rookie. She’s a GIRL. And she earned her first-ever round win against YOU, the most decorated champion in our sport. And she continues to win rounds.
What’s your problem, John? I know for a fact you’re a good guy. I know of the charities you donate to. I’ve seen you take kids and their families behind your pit area for personal meet-and-greets and autograph sessions. I’ve seen you at the ropes talking with the fans far longer than guys a third your age.
So why are you being so possessive of the Winner’s Circle?
One of your PR guys (not the good one, the other one) sent me a message when he found out I was writing this, hoping to explain why JFR is behaving in such a manner in 2012.
“I think we are most excited about Robert being on pace to have a 34-4 round record over the first 12 races. You combine that with the fact that John's win at the Winternationals historically means he is destined for his 16th championship.
“While Neff has been dominant, based on his lackluster performance win in Houston, he is obviously rethinking the benefits of running quick versus winning ugly.
“Finally, Courtney has to be considered a favorite for not just rookie of the year but also Full Throttle Hard Working Crew and the Funny Car championship since she has exhibited a cut-throat attitude in her early season win over her father, team owner and 15-time champion in just her second race."
THAT’S your attitude? Well, I must say, that all comes off as just a bit confrontational if you ask me. The problem is, though, it’s not just John Force Racing. Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson, both Ford drivers, have been involved, too, especially with Tasca winning rounds and making a finals appearance. There seems to be a common thread here…
It’s Ford. It goes all the way to the top. Good gravy, this is huge. I jumped on the phone and demanded to speak with Ford’s Director of Racing Jamie Allison immediately (actually, I wrote a very polite e-mail to one of Ford’s PR staff, the delightful Lachelle Seymour and she set up a phone call. Hugs!).
Mr. Allison was very open during his conversation, admitting freely he not only condoned what his Ford teams were doing, but was proud of it! I asked him if he was concerned for his safety at the race track, if other Funny Car drivers and team owners were giving him the stink eye or throwing banana peels beneath his feet. Apparently, that’s not the case.
“I’m walking with pride,” he said as I checked the caller ID on my phone, seeing if I could get his personal number. Never know when that could come in handy. Nope. Ford’s corporate number.
“I walk in, proud to showcase the Blue Oval. I think until we clean up the entire season with 23 (wins) in a row, I won’t have to worry about showing up at a track and worry about being taking out their frustrations. But you know, six in a row, eight in a row, ten in a row? Let’s get to 23 in a row and see what happens.”
Wait a second. Did he just say 23 in a row? Yep. Checked my notes. There it is. “Twenty-three in a row is achievable!” he said again when the conversation ended.
But hold on, sports fans, it goes even deeper. Allison admitted there was a secret weapon, something the NHRA doesn’t test for and no one would think to look at—Bob Tasca’s blood.
“When your livelihood depends on you wearing the Blue Oval and selling the Blue Oval and being a part of the Blue Oval, I’ll bet you, if we cut on Bob Tasca’s arm a little bit, I’ll bet there’s a little bit of blue that comes out,” Allison said of the third-generation Ford supporter. “Because he lives it every day. He shows up during the week to help us sell Fords and on the weekends, he helps us sell Fords in a different way. So I think someone better check his blood; I think there’s a little bit of blue in there.”
Tasca’s blood. Great googly moogly. Ford Racing is destroying the field in the NHRA Funny Car class because of the fluid pumping through a heart that probably has a Shelby Cobra tattooed on it. But what about that other racing series? What about NASCAR? How can Ford pull itself out of the tailspin that—
I’ve just been told Ford drivers have won the last two Daytona 500s (Trevor Bayne, 2011; Matt Kenseth, 2012), last year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series title (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr), and tied for first in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series’ points standings (Carl Edwards). What’s going on here?
“It all starts with the passion, the determination, and the excellence and loyalty of these great teams we’re so blessed to be associated with,” Allison said. “When you look at what’s going on in NASCAR and our long history with Jack Roush and the drivers in our Ford cars for so many years.
“You cross over into NHRA, talk about how blessed we are to be associated with the king of the sport, the one and only John Force. But you know what they say, one man does not make a team. He’s surrounded by a great team when you talk about crew chiefs, when you talk about drivers…the list can just go on and on about the people surrounding John. And of course now with the arrival of Courtney and soon Brittany, and of course the addition of Tasca and Tim Wilkerson, we literally feel like we’re the Ford family at every race.”
So it’s family, eh? Loyalty, passion, and whatnot? It’s not using an old space shuttle engine or using papier mache bodies or enlisting the aid of a sorcerer? Interesting.
Alright, John. I’m going to let it slide. Apparently your stranglehold over the Funny Car class isn’t intended to be malicious. But I will keep my eye on you, sir. Both of them, in fact. So good luck this weekend in Atlanta.
I will be watching.
(Editor’s Note: Ford Racing and representatives of Bob Tasca III informed us that in no way, shape, or form, is Tasca’s blood used for any reason other than to sustain his life force. Our writer didn’t understand Mr. Allison was being FIGURATIVE and not LITERAL. We apologize for the confusion.)
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