NASCAR & Auto Racing

Injured NHRA star John Force ponders new safety measures to protect legs

John Force is thankful for the changes to his NHRA Funny Car dragster that protected his head and neck in a spectacular crash last week at the Texas Motorplex.

But the 14-time champion is determined to promote the development of a protective tub that might help eliminate leg and foot injuries like those he received in the crash.

Force, drag racing’s most prolific winner with 125 NHRA victories, suffered a compound fracture of the left ankle, broken toes and a broken bone in his right foot, broken and mangled fingers on his right hand and a dislocated left wrist when his Ford Mustang had a tire failure at 300 mph.

He underwent six hours of surgery to repair the injuries.

“I had no head injuries, no neck injuries, no back injuries, no bleeding, not even a Band-Aid on anything but my hands and feet,” Force said, crediting changes to the cockpit that followed the tragic death of teammate Eric Medlen in a testing accident last March at Gainesville, Fla.

“The next issue is to put the driver in an IndyCar-type monocoque that protects his legs.”

The 58-year-old Force, expected to make a full recovery, said he’s putting an emphasis on finding more answers.

“You know, we did start on a tub three, four months ago when Eric crashed,” Force said.

“But we got so busy dealing with cockpit issues – extra padding, the seven-point belt, new head-and-neck restraints – that there just wasn’t time (to complete the project) and that’s why I’m here.”