NASCAR & Auto Racing

Force’s recovery takes green light

John Force has won 125 National Hot Rod Association Funny Car races and 14 championships, and had even had remarkably good fortune even on days when things didn’t go well.

“I’ve been on fire from here to Australia,” Force said this week. “I’ve had some burns, but I’ve gotten out of every crash and never had a scratch. I’ve never had a broken bone.”

Until Sunday.

Force’s violent crash in the NHRA race at Ennis, Texas, left him with a compound fracture of his left ankle, several broken fingers, damage to his left knee, a dislocated left wrist and several other injuries.

He had six hours of reconstructive surgery late that night at Baylor University Medical Center and by late Monday he was already standing up and beginning the road to recovery.

"I’m just lucky to have my legs,” Force said. “I gnawed off some fingers and toes, but they had me up trying to stand. ... I just feel so helpless and vulnerable. This is all new to me.”

Force said he remembers thinking he needed to get a good start to his race with Kenny Bernstein in order to win the race.

“The next thing I remember,” he said, “is them trying to get me out of the car.”

Or what was left of it.

Force’s car broke in half just across the finish line. The front half crashed into Bernstein’s car while the back half, with Force still strapped to the seat, wound up on its side against the wall on the other side of the strip.

“A tire came off the car just as I put the parachutes out and it literally pulled the car apart,” Force said after watching the video.