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Economic woes prompt John Force to cut back NHRA funny-car team

January 28, 2010 |  4:53 pm

Citing the weak economy and lack of sponsorship, drag-racing legend John Force said today he is reducing his team of NHRA funny-car dragsters to three cars from four.

The Ford Mustangs driven by Force, his daughter Ashley Force Hood and son-in-law Robert Hight -- the reigning funny car champion in the National Hot Rod Assn.'s Full Throttle Series -- will continue to compete, but the fourth car, driven by Mike Neff, will be parked, Force said in a statement.

Force also said his John Force Racing team, which is based in Yorba Linda, consolidated its racing operations at its facility in Brownsburg, Ind., near Indianapolis, where many of the major drag-racing teams are headquartered.

"I am dropping the fourth car for the 2010 season strictly as a business move, because in this economy we haven't been able to fund it properly through new sponsorship," said Force, 60, a 14-time funny-car champion.

Earlier this month, another drag-racing legend, Don Prudhomme, said he was closing his one-car team in the NHRA's top-fuel division for lack of funding, and teams in NASCAR and other forms of motor sports also have struggled amid declines in sponsorship support.

The NHRA's new season starts Feb. 11-14 with the 50th running of the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Funny-car driver John Force does a burnout during test last Saturday  at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire