Drag Racing Champ John Force Has 'Long and Difficult Recovery' After Crash

Drag Racing Champion John Force Showing Daily Signs of Improvement After Fiery Crash

John Force
Brian To/FilmMagic

Drag racing champion John Force is steadily making recovery progress one week after his engine exploded during a tournament on June 23.

“After five tense days during which he was heavily sedated while battling the effects of injuries suffered in the 300 mile-per-house crash of his drag racing Funny Car, 16-time NHRA World Champion John Force has begun to show daily signs of improvement, according to family members who have maintained a presence at the trauma hospital,” a Sunday, June 30, statement on Force’s official social media pages read.

Force, 75, had been competing in the first round of the NHRA Virginia Nationals when his engine exploded. The vehicle hit both walls of the track during the impact. Force was transported to a local hospital for treatment after suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

According to Sunday’s update, Force initially struggled to “follow the series of commands” to open his eyes, squeeze his care providers’ hands and move extremities. Earlier this week, he finally “began to gain some momentum.”

“He became more consistent responding to commands and finally opened his eyes on day 5,” the statement added. “Following days of failed attempts, his wife and daughters were overcome with emotion when he murmured his name, ‘John Force,’ and later when prompted, gave a thumbs up.”

Force’s “biggest” hurdles have been managing “extreme agitation and confusion,” which causes significant distress. While Force’s doctors have jokingly nicknamed the race car driver a “raging bull” by his consistent need to get out of bed without assistance, he still can recognize his wife, Laurie, and their four daughters.

Drag Racing Champion John Force Showing Daily Signs of Improvement After Fiery Crash

John Force
X/John Force

“Despite the welcomed progress, [John] still faces a long and difficult recovery ahead,” the statement further read. “For the immediate future, [he] will remain in neuro intensive care with visitation restricted to immediate family members only.”

Sunday’s note concluded, “John’s family members extend their deepest gratitude to the medical professionals responsible for his well-being and recovery. They deeply appreciate the overwhelming number of heartfelt messages, prayers, support and concern from the entire automotive and racing industries.”

Force’s daughter Brittany, 37, was set to compete at the recent 17th Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Ohio on June 26, but withdrew to “remain with family in support of her dad.”

“My dad’s going to be all right. I was in the ambulance with him, holding his hand,” Brittany told Autoweek earlier this month. “It’s something that’s tough. We know that’s a part of the drill. That’s how this sport goes. I wouldn’t be his daughter if I wasn’t back up here in that car, trying to win this thing with this team for him.”

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