In a series of announcements made Tuesday at his headquarters race shop in Yorba Linda, Calif., 15-time NHRA Funny Car world champ John Force laid the groundwork for the future of his drag racing empire by naming son-in-law Robert Hight the new president of John Force Racing and daughter Ashley Force Hood as president of John Force Entertainment to oversee a variety of multimedia projects, including a new reality TV show.
Force, who will assume the position of CEO of JFR, also named longtime team member and crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli as general manager of the John Force Racing facility in Brownsburg, Ind., and announced the creation of a mobile Road Show that will display at sites in the same market as NHRA events to further spread the word about his team and NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing.
Hight, the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion and 2005 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner as the NHRA rookie of the year, began his career at John Force Racing as a crewmember in 1995 and steadily assumed more responsibilities, including facility manager of the Yorba Linda shop, test driver, and, finally, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang in which he has won 18 NHRA tour events.
“Robert and my daughter Adria [Hight’s wife and JFR CFO] will run this company long after I am gone,” Force said. “Adria has been with this company her whole life. She used to sit in my lap and steer my truck. She had been running the business side with my brother-in-law David Arritt for over a decade. Robert is a strong leader, and he understands every side of this company. He lives it just like I do every day of the year. At Thanksgiving, he and I always wind up going off in a corner and talking about business.”
For Hight, this is just another acknowledgment of his dedication to JFR and particularly to his father-in-law.
“I have the highest respect for John. He never stops thinking about how to make this company better for everyone – from the crew guys to the crew chiefs to the sponsors to the fans. There is no way I could ever replace him, and, trust me, he isn’t going anywhere. I am excited to continue learning from him. This is an exciting day for me and Adria,” said Hight.
Force Hood, meanwhile, takes control of John Force Entertainment, a full-service entertainment company that will immediately begin developing a new reality television show, work toward completion and publication of a John Force biography, and explore the development of the biography into a feature-length film and documentary.
“Even before I started racing Funny Cars, I had a passion for moviemaking and photography,” said Force Hood, a radio, TV, and film graduate of Cal State-Fullerton. “This will be an exciting opportunity to develop some of my own projects as well as projects that John Force Racing has been trying to get off the ground for some time.
“Our projects will not solely be racing. We will constantly be looking for opportunities to work with the local community as well as the greater Southern California area,” said the former cheerleader at Yorba Linda’s Esperanza High School.
John Force Entertainment also has hired television producer Brent Travers to work with Force Hood, primarily on the development of the reality television show. Travers oversaw the development and production of Driving Force, A&E’s wildly popular television show that centered on Force and his three racing daughters. Travers insists that any new show will not be Driving Force Part 2.
“We are looking to develop a show around Courtney Force as she learns the ropes racing a Mustang Funny Car under the tutelage of her successful older sister Ashley, brother-in-law Robert, and her 15-time Funny Car champion father,” he said. “In addition to the television show, we are looking at developing a wide variety of media projects that range from mobile applications to feature-length films. There is a virtual treasure chest of content opportunities here, and my goal is to work with Ashley to maximize our efforts.”
In the past month, the Yorba Linda race shop has been completely remodeled to house a theater with stage and stadium seating for more than 50 people. Additionally, full production studios and edit bays have been added on two separate floors of the building. John Force Entertainment will use Red Digital Cinema technology for its productions. This is the same technology that Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson is using on The Hobbit and that directors such as Steven Soderbergh (Che) and David Fincher (The Social Network) have used.
Longtime JFR friend Rick Gamora has also been helpful in offering advice as well as additional studio space. Gamora has offered the use of his 150,000-square-foot Long Beach, Calif., studio for projects that need to utilize more space. JFR and Gamora have worked on a number of projects and look forward to growing their production studio relationship.
Force Hood and Travers have also been working directly with Jim Jannard, Red Digital Cinema founder, to begin putting together a technology and equipment plan for John Force Entertainment to use as the company grows.
Antonelli’s appointment is a progression for the popular crew chief, who tunes Force Hood’s Castrol Mustang. He has been instrumental in overseeing and managing the 150,000-square-foot Brownsburg shop since it was opened in 2005.
“ ‘Guido’ has been running the Brownsburg shop with his wife, Kelly [JFR’s marketing director], for me for a couple of years now,” said Force. “I am just making it official. This is about moving the next generation of leaders up in my organization. We will still work as a team, but every team needs a leader. ‘Guido’ used to be the team leader on my Funny Car, and now he has his own team as crew chief. Having him run the Brownsburg shop was a natural fit.”
Antonelli was team leader on Force’s car for 12 seasons, and in nine of those seasons, Force won the championship. In four seasons as co-crew chief for Force Hood, along with partner Ron Douglas, he sent the second-generation driver to 16 final rounds, four wins, and 15 No. 1 starts, culminating in back-to-back wins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil and top-three finishes in 2009 and 2010.
“Having John give me this opportunity is a real honor,” Antonelli said. “He is one of the best drivers I have ever seen, and his passion for growing the sport is unmatched. When you look at what he has created in Brownsburg with our shop and The Eric Medlen Project, it is just amazing. My goal is to continue the positive momentum John has started and to build and expand our business model for both our own success and the success of our partners.”
Force also unveiled the John Force Racing Road Show, a multiple-trailer caravan that will travel the country in conjunction with Force’s four Ford Mustang Funny Car teams, spreading the gospel of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing at drag race events, movie theaters, malls, airports, car shows, and anywhere else that Force thinks he can get a crowd and sell the sport with which he fell in love as a young man in Southern California.
“I love this sport, and I want as many people to see my hot rods as possible,” said the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection. “Last year, we added a sponsor trailer to help our sponsors like Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools, and BrandSource activate at the track with us. I want to take it to the next level and activate for my sponsors away from the track in the cities where we are racing.
“I know once fans see my Mustangs and maybe watch a video, they will want to see more. We have a great sport, and NHRA is a great partner. I want to do everything I can so my sponsors, my drivers, and our sport can continue to succeed,” said Force.
The John Force Racing Road Show will consist of multiple Ford Mustang show cars as well as an apparel trailer and interactive displays and will travel in conjunction with the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. In most instances, the JFR Road Show will set up Wednesday or Thursday and be open free to the public through the race weekend.
On Sunday night or early Monday morning, the trailers will load up and, just like the Barnum & Bailey Circus, leave town. In select markets, the BrandSource Funny Car, which will be part of the Road Show, will be tested by Courtney Force as the 22-year-old works toward her license.
Busch will compete in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock category March 11-13 at Gainesville Raceway
GLENDORA, Calif. (Jan. 24, 2011) – Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has announced that he will be making his NHRA Full Throttle Series debut at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, March 11-13, at historic Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.
The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion will be competing for one of the 16 qualifying spots in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class in the Shell Dodge Avenger for Allen Johnson and J & J Racing.
“Pro Stock is the tightest pro category as far as the elapsed time is concerned and it’s not going to be an easy task,’ Busch said. “I feel me teaming up with Allen Johnson and the Mopar folks, we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to make the show.”
Busch spent a good part of his busy offseason testing with Allen Johnson and he earned his NHRA Pro Stock license with an impressive best-pass of 6.576 seconds at 210.43 mph at Bradenton, Fla.
As a matter of reference (understanding conditions are not identical), Mike Edwards was the No. 1 qualifier at the 2010 Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals with a 6.537 at 211.53 and Rickie Jones was on the bump with a 6.601 at 209.10. Busch’s 6.576 would have qualified him 11th.
When Busch arrives in Gainesville for the 41st running of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, he will get a total of four qualifying passes – two on Friday and two on Saturday – at which point the 16-car fields will be set for Sunday’s race.
Pro Stock cars have similar appearance to their showroom counterparts but feature extensive engine modifications, sophisticated chassis and suspension with a maximum 500 cubic-inch engine displacement. On average a Pro Stock car will cover the quarter-mile in six and a half seconds with a speed of more than 200 mph.
“It’s a whole different world than NASCAR. The toughest part is staging the car and of course cutting a good light, the thrill of the launch and the speed at the top-end is why I’m so fascinated with drag racing. But I do know that heading to the Gatornationals and running with the pros, I will get a full dose of ‘humble pie.’”
At the 2010 Tire Kingdom Gatornationals, Busch competed in the Super Gas category, which is part of the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, in a rebuilt 1970 Dodge Charger. Weather plagued the event which limited his time on the track and contributed to his first round loss in the category.
“The 2010 event was an experience of a lifetime, the camaraderie with the sportsman guys was a truly fun experience,” Busch said. “Although it was tough to watch it rain for four days, the grassroots effort of the sportsman guys is what makes the true heart of NHRA racing.”
Busch, a native of Las Vegas, was introduced to drag racing in the early 1990s when he met two Las Vegas based NHRA racers – George Marnell, a Pro Stock racer, and Dave Bush (no relation), a Super Comp competitor. He also became friends with three-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion Larry Dixon when both were sponsored by the same company.
The Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals have long been a ‘must-see’ destination event for race fans across the world as they make the pilgrimage to the track based in north-central Florida. Fans are always treated to tremendous racing at the track that has hosted NHRA events since 1970. For tickets for the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, log on to www.NHRAtix.com or call 800-884-NHRA (6472).
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011. As the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States, NHRA presents 22 national events featuring the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Two NHRA-sanctioned bracket racing series provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels: the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers the Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 8 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 14, 2011) — The Super Chevy Show will start its fourth decade of touring across North America later this spring, and will do so with GM Performance Division as the presenting sponsor. SCSW, LLC., the series ownership group made up of national event track operators, acquired the series prior to the start of the 2010 season. This accomplished team of owners has focused their efforts on making this tour one of the premiere automotive event series in the nation.
GM Performance Division will have large, interactive displays on the midway at designated events. This will allow fans, as well as car show, drag race and autocross participants the unique opportunity to see the latest products, Performance Parts/Chevy Accessories and specialized vehicles built by GM on display. Event patrons will get to see one-of-a-kind concept Camaros, Corvettes and specialty builds with many other production models.
“We are once again proud to support the Super Chevy Show Series” noted Craig Shantz, manager of GM Performance Division. “We appreciate the opportunity for GM Performance Division to be part of these events. It’s great interacting with enthusiasts that have the passion for design, performance and the American heritage of the automobile. It is the goal of GM to design, build and sell the world’s best performance vehicles. There is no better audience than the attendees of the Super Chevy Show Series.”
The Super Chevy Show Series is a 12-event tour that begins with the 2011 season opener in Jupiter, FL at Palm Beach Intl. Raceway on the weekend of April 8-10. The series wraps up at Firebird Intl. Raceway in Phoenix, AZ. on the weekend of October 28-30. Other Super Chevy Show host facilities include “The Strip” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Virginia Motorsports Park, Texas Motorplex, Maple Grove Raceway, Spokane County Dragway, Bandimere Speedway, Castrol Raceway, Bristol Dragway, Royal Purple Raceway at Houston and Rockingham Dragway. Full series and event information can be found on www.superchevyshow.com.
Nothing else compares to a pair of blown nostalgia racecars sitting side by side as the amber bulbs flash and the whine of thousands of horsepower pierces your eardrums and shakes the grandstands as drivers accelerate their ill handling beasts down the strip. There is simply no comparison. The Texas Blown Fuel Association was created by Rick Grindstaff, Keith Breazeal and Chris Graves to recognize and continue the old school blown nostalgia style of drag racing and there is plenty to be proud of and look forward to as the TBFA will hit new tracks and welcome new members in only it’s second year as a series.
Expected to join the TBFA series at the season opener at Thunder Road Raceway in Shreveport (Gilliam), Louisiana on March 12th will be the Johnson Family Racing team with their “Blown Bee” front engine dragster out of Houston, Texas with young gun Cole Johnson behind the wheel, soon to be the youngest driver in the series. The TBFA also looks forward to welcoming Willie Brainerd’s “Black Gold” blown front engine dragster to the series out of Mounds, Oklahoma and Keith Breazeal will debut his beautiful new blown alcohol fuel altered also out of Houston, Texas, surely to be a head turner. The staff also has commitments from Don Holley out of Denton, Texas fielding a blown dragster and George DeLaMatyr & Robie Robertson set to debut their new fuel altered out of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Several others are nearing completion on their purpose build racecars as TBFA also anticipates racing at some major drag racing events this year in their eight race schedule, including the most recently announced Super Chevy Show at the Texas Motorplex on June 4th.
“The Super Chevy Show at Texas Motorplex celebrates one of the country’s most beloved car brands while allowing people to take a journey through American car history,” Texas Motorplex General Manager, Gabrielle Stevenson, said. “This year we’re adding an especially unique element by having the Texas Blown Fuel Association racing down the famous all-concrete quarter-mile track, allowing fans to feel the power of some of the most magnificent race cars to go down the track.”
2011 Texas Blown Fuel Event Schedule
March 12th – Thunder Road Raceway Park – Gilliam, Louisiana ¼ mile
April 16th – North Star Dragway – Denton, Texas – 1/8th mile
May 20th – Texas Raceway – Kennedale, Texas – 1/8th mile
June 4th – Texas Motorplex Super Chevy Show – Ennis, TX – ¼ mile
July 2nd – North Star Dragway – Denton, Texas – 1/8th mile
August 5th – Texas Raceway B.H.R.A Nationals – Kennedale, Texas – 1/8th mile
September 24th – Tulsa Raceway Park’s Nitro Nationals – Tulsa, Oklahoma – ¼ mile
October 22nd – Texas State Championships – San Antonio Raceway – ¼ mile
Photos: Max Cackle Photography
2010 TBFA Points Champion Leonard Ament and company will be on their game looking to defend their title in the “Black Magic” Blown Fiat and points chase runner-up Chris Stouffer hopes to nab the top spot away in the “Defiant” Blown Front Engine Dragster. Rick Grindstaff, L.H. Newlin, Rich Witko, Dustin Johnson, Wes Breiten, Mike Wheeler, Eddie Taylor, Tom Butherus, Bill Norman, Preston Phillips among others also look to make their presence known as the days count down to the TBFA season opener.
To put some icing on the cake, the TBFA welcomes California based Good Vibrations with their announcement of a $100 bonus going to the quickest reaction time of first round at each event this season. The TBFA would like to thank Jim Maher, President of Good Vibrations, for his involvement and support. Follow the series online at www.texasblownfuel.com and mark these dates down on your calendar to catch the TBFA series in action at a strip near you.
O’FALLON, MO (Jan. 12, 2011) – Pro Nitrous standout Charles Carpenter and Pro Extreme driver Mick Snyder will be the featured guests on the American Drag Racing League’s (ADRL) weekly online show, “ADRL Drag Racing Live,” presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
The entertaining 60-minute show airs live every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST on the ADRL website, www.ADRL.us and also on www.blogtalkradio.com/adrldragracinglive. Every archived show is available on-demand on the ADRL website as well.
“ADRL Drag Racing Live” is hosted by ADRL Television personality Bret Kepner and ADRL Director of Media and Communications Josh Hachat. They break down the latest news and happenings in the ADRL and the Arabian Drag Racing League, and it is the only weekly show that is 100 percent devoted to the ADRL and Arabian Drag Racing League.
Carpenter, the longtime racing legend, will appear on the popular program just more than a week before he is inducted into the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame. That takes place Jan. 21-22 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
The universally-liked Carpenter will talk about that well-deserved honor on the show, as well as his plans for the 2011 season after an adversity-filled 2010.
Snyder made an impact in 2010 in Pro Extreme, which marked his first year of competing in the ADRL. The colorful Snyder won the Summit Racing Equipment Ohio Drags IV for his
first ADRL win, and he will discuss his successful first season as well as what is in store for the 2011 ADRL Tour.
Thursday’s broadcast will also feature sound bites from a number of drivers preparing to compete in the fifth race of the eight-race series at Qatar Racing Club (QRC) in Doha, Qatar. Kepner and Hachat will touch on last week’s Round Four results and look ahead to Friday’s Round Five finals as well.
ABOUT THE ADRL
Based in O’Fallon, Missouri, the American Drag Racing League is the nation’s premier sanctioning body for the sport of eighth-mile drag racing. The professional categories featured in the ADRL are Pro Junior Dragster, Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class in all of drag racing. The 2011 ADRL tour consists of 10 national events run throughout the United States. For more information on the ADRL, visit www.ADRL.us.