Skip to comments.John Force taken to Dallas hospital after top-end accident with Bernstein
Posted on 09/23/2007 2:11:36 PM PDT by devane617
Drag racing's biggest star, 14-time champion John Force, was alert and conscious after suffering two broken legs and an injured arm in a nasty top-end collision Sunday with fellow straight-line legend Kenny Bernstein in the second round of eliminations at the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex outside of Dallas. Force has been airlifted to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for further treatment. Their Funny Cars got together just as they crossed the finish line after Bernstein clipped the final timing cone. The numbers, although unofficial, showed Force crossing with a 4.863 at 315.34 mph to Bernstein's 4.904 at 312.06 mph.
Bernstein quickly made his way out of his Monster Energy Drink Dodge Charger R/T and was shown walking around and talking to medical and safety personnel on the large television screens at the racetrack, which brought a huge cheer from the crowd. But the mood quickly turned quiet as everyone waited for word on Force's condition. Minutes later, track announcers reported that Force was talking to EMTs but would be transported by medical helicopter for further evaluation. Team spokesman Dave Densmore reported Force's injuries to the media. NHRA.com will provide more information on this breaking story as it becomes available.
Team spokesman Dave Densmore reported Force's injuries to the media. "He was asking to talk to Laurie, his wife, and Ashley and Robert Hight, so that was a good sign," Densmore said. "He is in a lot of pain, obviously. They can't take passengers on the helicopter so the family is off to the hospital in a car."
"John has very serious injuries to his hands, his legs, and his feet that will require extensive work-up and treatment," said NHRA doctor Dwight Shewchuk, who was first on the scene with the Safety Safari. "Nothing appears life-threatening at this time but he certainly has significant injuries so he's been taking to Baylor Hospital where he'll be further evaluated.
"Although he was alert and conscious throughout the whole thing he was demonstrating some signs of a concussion as he was asking the same question over and over. But his vital signs were stable and he's on his way."
Daughter Ashley Force, who won her second-round race with Del Worsham, opted not to compete in the semifinals.
Said Bernstein, who was not injured in the incident, "First of all I just pray that John's going to be okay," Bernstein said. "I know he's hurt and the main thing I'm praying for is that he gets 100-percent recovery. That's more important than anything right now for me, Sheryl, and our team. I know he was talking to me there and he was asking if he hurt me. That's typical John right there. He'll be okay. He's a strong-willed man, he'll be fine."
NHRA.com will provide more information on this breaking story as it becomes available.
Met John several times. Like many, one of my favorite NHRA drivers. Been a very rough year for John Force Racing. Hopefully, John will recover 100% and continue driving.
John has had a great career, and I have felt for a while he was overdue for an accident. I hope he hangs up his helmet, and focuses on AShley’s ride. Nothing left for him to do in a dragster other than die.
The crash did not look good, but other than two broken legs he is fine.
Hey, it's John Force for crissakes, he always talks like that.
I can't wait to hear his explanation of what his ole hot rod (and Elvis) were doing.
Force spent some time in Humboldt County Ca with his family when his dad worked in the logging industry. He has mentioned his fond memories of Mikes Garlic Fries on Broadway in Eureka. Mikes Drive up opened in 1946 and still going strong today with it’s third owner.
My Prayers are with John and his family
Johns sure had a tough year.Erics terrible accident really
hurt Team Force.
We were at the Nats at Indy where John failed to qualify.
It`s a dangerous sport.
Prayers up for a great racer,a good man.
I love drag racing, and John Force IS the man! He is one tough son of a gun.
From the video, looked like Bernstein crossed the median throwing something into Force’s car. Prayers up for John Force.
Agree. He will be okay. Heck, I have had three broken legs, not at the same time - and I recovered well. Furthermore, as long as he’s getting paid based on how well he drives and not how well he walks, everything will return to normal in due time.
Glad for the clarification. I was almost ready to ask for your porn name....
WOW!!!! Thanks for the pics!!!!
My guess is that Force—if he decides to return—won’t be back in racing until at least April-May 2008. But given his long and distinguished NHRA career, this horrifying accident may be the pretense for him to retire.
Bigger question is the chassis under his cars.
Two big failures now, one fatal, NHRA will be looking at this VERY closely.
It’s time to slow those guys down.
Replay of the event is on ESPN2 right now...
What came off the other vehicle that he hit???
I got home late and haven’t seen it yet. The announcer on ESPN2 did say the wreck is coming up around 8:45...
Looks like a center line cone or divider of some sort that was thrown into Forces lane by the other vehicle...
My goodness, it just shredded Force’s vehicle’s rear end.....
I must have an hour delay on my end. Bernstein is just getting to the second round...
What I saw on ESPN2 and following on WT, only solidifies what John was screaming about on WT last month during the Indy Nationals---that big, REALLY BIG changes need to be made to the FC class (and all rail classes) for safety reasons, beginning with a complete teardown and safety research/rebuild, and he's workin' on it more than anyone else in the biz.
Thank God for the John Forces' of this world.
Speed had NOTHING to do with this accident. His impact with the wall was WAY under 100 mph.
Eric Medlen's crash occured at less than 120 MPH.
So I suppose your solution would be a 55 MPH limit?
These are racers, it's what they do, what they love, and how they make their living.
Slow them down and the sport will die.........and they, along with the hundreds they employ, will be out of jobs.
Please take your nanny mentality to a daycare & leave racing to those who love it.
I gotta agree - John is more than right on this one. Richard Hammond’s crash over in England showed just how primitive all these rail classes are - and there’s no reason for that, especially when the things are already running restricted after Top Fuel broke into the 3’s last decade.
Fix the safety issues on them - then, if they’re slower, derestrict them.
Top Fuel winner Larry Dixon spoke about Force.
“I’m glad that (John Force is) alive,” Dixon said. “From that point you can fix anything. A lot of credit goes to the Safety Safari, the medical team, and the rules package for the way the cars have to be built so that you can survive an accident like that. I feel safer in my car that goes 330 mph than I do in my rental car going 55 mph on the way to the track. I feel like I could run over a nuclear bomb, and I trust in that. He’ll be back racing one day. You can count on that.”
Watched the incident frame-by-frame, from several angles, on my DVR late last night. No question in my mind that Force’s car suffered a catastrophic clutch explosion (very rare these days) that had nothing to do with Kenny Bernstein taking out two of the speed trap timing blocks, which both missed Johns car. Later in the 3 hour NHRA program they showed a tow truck taking away the back part of Johns car. From the close-up camera shot, it was cleanly cut in half right at the bottom of the drivers roll cage. The left tire was intact but had many metal? fragment punctures in it. Noticed right when the accident began to happen there were chunks of metal destroying the rear left side of the cars body, then as the clutches were letting go the excess revs blew the supercharger - starting a flash blower fire and the burst panel went flying off the car then the cars chassis separated right in front of John with the entire back of the car pitching up in the air from the explosion. Noticed after the front 3/4 of Johns car took out Kennys car, and finally slid to a stop at the front of the sand trap, I didnt see any bell housing-clutch can in the car. Imo, this was nothing more than a freak and very rare type of accident that didnt have anything to do with TF-FC technology. Thats my 3 cents until something official comes out on the subject. Glad John wasnt hurt worse that he was and Kenny is alright. Hope next season is better for both of them.
I sent him well wishes on his web site.
John is a tough cookie. He'll be back and God willing he will hoist #15 in 2008.
NHRA.com reports the surgery went well. Updates from the Force camp expected midday today.
Force Speaks; Champ Begins Undergoing Physical Therapy
Monday, 09.24.07, 6:45 p.m. CT
John Force, seriously injured Sunday in the crash of his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car during the 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, was undergoing physical therapy Monday at Baylor University Medical Center following six hours of reconstructive surgery Sunday night on his feet, legs and hands. The 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion suffered a compound fracture of the left ankle, a deep laceration of the right knee down to the bone, broken fingers and lacerations on the right hand and a dislocated left wrist that originally was diagnosed as a dislocation and break. The 125-time tour winner's injuries were tended by Alan Jones, M.D., orthopedic traumatologist, Michael Foreman, M.D., chief of trauma services, and David Zehr, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and hand specialist. Force's prognosis is "very good" following the most severe accident he's experienced in more than three decades of racing.
We don't really know what went wrong, Force said Monday after viewing video of the crash for the first time. I don't remember much. I remember thinking that I had to cut a light to beat (rival) Kenny Bernstein. The next thing I remember is them trying to get me out of the car. I was worried about Bernstein, Force said, because I knew he was in the other lane. I didn't want to hurt anybody, especially Kenny. He's a good friend and a great competitor and he did nothing wrong. In fact, he did a great driving job. I'm just lucky to have my legs. I gnawed off some fingers and toes, but they had me up trying to stand today. They're great people here at Baylor and I know they'll get me up and around as soon as they can.
The car pulled in half and I've never seen that, ever. A tire came off the car (didn't happen - FlA) just as I put the parachutes out and it literally pulled the car apart. I just feel so helpless and vulnerable. I've been on fire from here to Australia. 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 (before) so this is all new to me.
Monday, 1:00 p.m. CT: John Force is on his feet at Baylor University Medical Center, just one day after his horrifying accident with Kenny Bernstein at the Texas Motorplex. Under the direction of his team of doctors, Force is out of his bed and seeing how much weight he can bear on his repaired left ankle and right knee. "He isn't happy about standing up, but he is standing up," Force's longtime public relations director Dave Densmore told NHRA.com's Rob Geiger. "I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes. It's an incredible recovery. "He was asking earlier this morning what it would take to race in Richmond (Va.) in two weeks but the doctors are having none of it. Densmore said Force will miss the rest of the NHRA season, which has three scheduled dates remaining in Richmond, Va., Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif. Force is fourth in the Funny Car standings.
John wanted to race in 2 weeks. He is the man!!
John hospital bedside interview
Mon, 09.24.07, 7:08 pm CT - 9:04 minutes
Ashley interview outside the hospital
Sun, 09.23.07, 9:20 pm CT - 4:41 minutes
Posted for FlAttorney by TAB
Great to see the Champ doing so well!!!
Force has been undergoing daily physical therapy in a walker to begin to rehabilitate his broken left ankle and deeply lacerated right knee.
The challenges of getting ambulatory are incredibly difficult because he has a cast on his left foot and his right leg is bandaged from below the knee up his thigh. His left hand and wrist are in a cast, and the fingers on his right hand are heavily swollen.
Well-wishes have been pouring in from sponsors, including Tom McKernan of the Automobile Club of Southern California, Dan Davis of Ford, and Bob Lawrence of Brand Source; fellow NHRA racers from all eras, including former Funny Car racer John Collins, who was involved in a two-car accident at the 1984 Cajun Nationals; and racers from all walks of motorsports, including former Texas Indy car great "Lone Star J.R." Rutherford.
"John's doing great for all that he went through," said Dave Densmore, public relations director of John Force Racing, who noted that Force is especially pleased that all of the work the team has done in padding the roll cage really paid off. "He told me that anytime he'd ever hit the wall before his neck was sore for weeks, and his neck is not sore at all after this accident where he got thrown around quite a bit."
Although Force still insists he would love to compete at the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals in Virginia to protect his hard-won spot in the Countdown to Four, it's highly unlikely given his medical condition and approvals that would need to be obtained from his doctors and NHRA officials. "I'm not trying to be no hero," he insists, just trying to keep the dream of a 15th championship alive.
The team is expected to have an official update later today.
Seriously injured Sunday when his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang broke in two at the end of a second-round match with the Monster Energy Drink Dodge Charger of Kenny Bernstein, Force endured another strenuous physical therapy session Wednesday in the hope of speeding his release.
Meanwhile, co-crew chiefs Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly, with input from fellow crew chiefs Jimmy Prock, Dean Guido Antonelli, and John Medlen, were examining video of the accident in the hope of providing Force with enough information to determine how many cars he might send to Richmond.
"The crew chiefs are looking for what happened," Force said. "Was it a tire issue? Was it a chassis issue? What happened, first, and then, why did it happen? We have to know those answers before we make any decisions.
"But, bottom line, the things we've done, safety-wise, since Eric's accident (teammate Eric Medlen succumbed last March to injuries suffered in a testing accident in Florida), are working. My neck and head were fine. Bernstein's neck and head were fine. Eric saved some lives out there and now we need to move ahead to address other issues."
Although the 14-time Funny Car champion reluctantly admitted that he might not be able to drive as early as next week, he vowed to be back for the last two events in the NHRA POWERade Series the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 25-28, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the Auto Club Finals, Nov. 1-4, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.)
"I need to get back out there to help Robert (Hight, son-in-law and teammate)," Force said. "He's got a shot at this championship. I did, too, right up until the tire let go."
Fortunately for Force, the tire blew, for reasons as yet unknown, at the end of the run, just as he was deploying the parachutes. When the 'chutes hit, the car pulled apart with the front half accelerating forward into Bernstein's lane and the back half coming to rest, with Force still strapped inside, against the left side guardwall. Force's injuries included a compound fracture of the left ankle but the veteran never lost consciousness.
Force's victory over Bernstein moved him back into the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, but he'll drop out of the final four if either of the three drivers immediately behind him Ron Capps, Gary Scelzi or Mike Ashley is simply able to make a qualifying attempt next week at Virginia Motorsports Park.
As a result, the 125-time tour winner was left to ponder what might have been Wednesday while visiting with sponsors and well-wishers. His visitors included Ford Racing boss Dan Davis, Automobile Club of Southern California president Tom McKernan and Bob Lawrence, CEO of BrandSource.
He took a phone call from NASCAR legend and TV analyst Darrell Waltrip, who was with a group of Nextel Cup drivers visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and welcomed Lone Star J.R., Johnny Rutherford, who stopped by to offer words of encouragement as three-time former NHRA Funny Car Champion Raymond Beadle, owner of the car in which Rusty Wallace won his only NASCAR championship, did on Tuesday.
Drag racing legend John Force continued on the road to recovery Wednesday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Team publicist Dave Densmore said in a release posted on the NHRA website Wednesday evening that Force spent the day "napping, rehabbing, and taking numerous phone calls from racing stars in all forms of motorsports. "He's basically trying to be John Force, but his body is telling him no at the moment," Densmore said. "Of course, he's wanting to do more than they're allowing him to do, and the fact he hasn't slept for more than an hour at a time since the accident isn't helping matters much. But they do have to monitor him very closely, take his blood pressure every hour, and keep him medicated to help with the pain. "He's been a real treat to deal with, as you might imagine. He complains and grouses when he's going through the exercises they need him to do, and then he spends about twice as long apologizing to everyone. It's quite an ordeal. The good news is he's progressing nicely."
Force is still hoping hell be able to return to action for the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals Oct. 5-7 in Richmond, Va. but Densmore doesnt expect that to happen. Densmore also said thoughts of Force leaving the hospital by Friday may have been premature. "The medical staff is thinking Monday before they'll allow him to fly home," Densmore said. "That's just to fly in a plane. I doubt he'll drive again this year, but every time I tell him that he throws me out of his room."
Former Funny Car driver Raymond Beadle(1) and former open wheel driver Johnny Rutherford visited with Force on Wednesday. Force also got a call from former Nextel Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip. "Waltrip told him the worst thing he did after his big wreck was to rush back to his car," Densmore said. "He told John straight out that if he had to do it again, he would have rehabbed completely before climbing back in a race car. Racing will always be there, but you only have one body. Beadle told him the same thing; so did Rutherford."
(1) Wow, a visit by legendary 3 time NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car champion Raymond "Blue Max" Beadle. He's the perfect individual to go see John and talk some sense into him. Beadle is the toughest "ice water in his veins" guy to ever drive a Top Fuel Funny Car. - FlA ~ http://www.nhra.com/50th/top50/R_Beadle20.html
# # # #
Latest from the K. Bernstein camp. I can't say enough good things about Kenny and I'm very impressed how Brandon is following in his footsteps. - FlA
All The Kings Horses and All The Kings Men Put The Monster Energy/Lucas Oil Funny Car Together Again
by Christine Thieroff, Bernstein Racing
RICHMOND, Va. -- Kenny Bernstein and the Monster Energy/Lucas Oil team are picking up the pieces, literally, and putting together another chassis and Dodge Charger Funny Car body for competition at the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals, Oct. 5-7. Legendary drivers Bernstein and John Force collided in second round competition in Dallas, Texas. News of the accident jammed cyberspace for hours as fans and friends searched for information. The accident happened when Forces car began to break apart and became unmanageable. Bernstein climbed out of his chassis without injury, while Force was airlifted to a Dallas hospital and underwent a surgical procedure to repair ankle, hand, wrist, and knee injuries.
John is a good friend and were happy to know he is making good progress, said Bernstein. We know its going to be a painful recuperative process, but John is strong and determined. When drivers go through an accident like this, the best thing from my point of view is to get back in the saddle and ride the horse. I will be fortunate enough to be able to do that at Richmond. The saving grace for John is that he doesnt remember much of the run at all, so the vision wont keep looping through his brain. I remember everything that happened, but I never want to review video footage or photos from something like this. I leave the review process to Jimmy (Walsh, crew chief). So Im mentally prepared to get on with qualifying.
Physically, Jimmy and the entire Monster Energy/Lucas Oil team have a lot of work to do. Tuesday after the accident they took the damaged chassis to Murf McKinneys shop, who manufactures our chassis, and found out it was beyond repair. That chassis was on only its third race. We have two more chassis and three more bodies, so we should be good to go for the remaining three races. I also want to say that the padding around my head which was beefed up as a result of the technological advances that John Force Racing is doing as a result of losing their driver and our friend Eric Medlen earlier this season, certainly helped us weather the impact of the crash(es) much better. By the same token, Im sure their research played a big part in saving John from more serious injury.
We want to thank our friends and fans who contacted us through emails, faxes and phone calls after the accident, concerned about our well-being. It means a lot to have everyone reach out and rally around. It gives us momentum to get back out and do the very best we can for them. Bernstein and Force collectively have 20 NHRA world championships and 194 national event wins to their credit.
Nitro (Top Fuel and Funny Car) qualifying for the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals begins Friday, Oct. 5 at 4 pm with a second session at 6:30 pm. There are two qualifying rounds Saturday, 12:30 pm and 3 pm., with final eliminations scheduled to begin Sunday at 11 am. ESPN2 coverage (ET): Oct 6, Qualifying 7 8 pm ; Oct 7, NHRA Race Day 11-11:30 am; Oct 7, Eliminations 7 10 pm ET.
Many accidents lately. Perhaps it is time to bring the drivers home and ensure that they are safe...../huge sarc.
........ Nevertheless, with his family around him at the hospital, including oldest daughter Adria Hight, who flew in Thursday night with his youngest daughters, Brittany, 21, and Courtney, 19, Force acknowledged Friday that the rehabilitation process is going to be long and arduous. To underscore that reality, doctors concerned with swelling in his right foot Friday ordered additional X-rays that may identify yet another break. The bigger right leg problem for the 58-year-old drag racing icon is the deep laceration to the right knee, a knee weakened by childhood polio and injured 18 years ago in a fall. Unfortunately, that's the foot with which the 14-time series champion mashes the gas pedal on the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang.
Beginning to recover from the effects of anesthesia and pain medication, the 125-time tour winner acknowledged for the first time Friday that he won't be able to drive next week in the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals at Richmond, Va. He is withholding judgement on his status for the last two races of the season until he consults next week with Dr. Terry Trammell, a noted orthopedic surgeon who specializes in motor racing injuries. It was Trammell who repaired three-time former NHRA champion Shirley Muldowney's badly mangled legs and got her back into a Top Fuel dragster following her accident at Montreal in 1984. She returned to the winners' circle at Phoenix in 1989.
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