Force plans to be in Richmond - No UPDATE John Force got a reality check late Tuesday, and the 14-time NHRA Funny Car world champion found he didn't have a leg to stand on. Faced with the knowledge that he can't put weight on a badly broken left ankle for at least 60 days and the realization that his severely damaged right knee and foot simply won't hold him up, Force finally acquiesced to the wishes of orthopedic surgeons treating him at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
The upshot is that the injured icon will remain at Baylor for an undetermined amount of time under the supervision of trauma specialist Dr. Michael Foreman, orthopedic traumatologist Dr. Alan Jones, and orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Zehr and immediately will embark on a more intense physical therapy program.
Although, with assistance, he has been up on his feet since the Sept. 23 accident at Texas Motorplex that left him seriously injured for the first time in his 30-year career, reports that the 125-time tour winner has been walking have been greatly exaggerated.
His physical activity to date has consisted primarily of doing pull-ups with his right arm and raising and lowering his legs – all from his hospital bed, which is why, on Tuesday, drag racing's biggest star acknowledged that while he is extremely motivated to get back in his race car as quickly as possible, he finally understands that he cannot accelerate the healing process.
“It is what it is,” Force said. “I know I said I was going to drive at Richmond (in this week's second annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park) and that I was going to drive at Las Vegas. That's what I wanted to do, but the truth is I'm beat up pretty bad. I can't do anything for myself right now, plus my blood count is down.
“They want me to eat, but nothing tastes right, and they want me to walk on my own, which I can't do because my right leg is so bad.”
Force's right leg initially was weakened by childhood polio and aggravated by an accident in 1989.
“I've had to rely on my daughter Ashley and my son-in-law, Robert Hight, to do everything for me – and I mean everything,” Force said. “I got two bad hands and two bad legs, so it didn't make any sense to do a couple days of therapy here, a couple more in Indy, and a couple more in California.
“My doctors here are right up there with the best in the world for these kinds of injuries. They worked with Kenny Brack, and they've handled PBR bull riders when they've been hurt. So my new game plan is to stay here to do the physical therapy they want.” NHRA PR
09/29/07 Five days after the spectacular crash that landed him in Baylor University Medical Center, John Force again credited fallen teammate Eric Medlen with saving him from more serious injuries.
Force's crash last Sunday at the Texas Motorplex was eerily similar to the one in which Medlen suffered fatal head injuries in a testing accident last March at Gainesville, Fla. In both instances, for whatever reason, a Goodyear tire failed (Is anyone surprised that a Goodyear racing tire would fail?), setting up a chain reaction that culminated in a chassis failure.
In last Sunday's incident, which occurred in the second round of the 22nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals, Force's Ford Mustang broke in two with the front half veering across the center line where it collided with the Dodge of Kenny Bernstein. The other half of the car, with Force still strapped inside, his legs exposed, came to a stop against the left guardwall.
“The work we've already done through The Eric Medlen Project saved my head,” Force said. “I'm all broken up in my arms and legs, but my head's fine, my back and neck are fine. That was what really excited John Medlen (who heads up the John Force Racing, Inc., safety initiative begun after his son's death).”