, drag-racing icon and star of the reality series Driving Force
, is fortunate to be alive after sustaining serious injuries during the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals, which was held in Ennis, Texas last Sunday, September 23.
The wreck occurred just as the Driving Force
star crossed the finish line against Kenny Bernstein. Bernstein's Funny Car drifted into Force's lane cutting the final timing cone and a foam block which shot into Force's lane. The front half of Force's car traveled into the path and impacted Bernstein's car before making contact with the retaining wall. The rear portion of the car, with Force still strapped in, eventually thrust across the track and came to rest on the right-side retaining wall.
"First of all, I just pray that John's going to be OK," Bernstein, who wasn't injured in the accident, 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 OK. He's a strong willed man. He'll be fine."
According to Team spokesman Elon Werner, the accident left his left ankle and left wrist dislocated and his right knee with a severe abrasion. The 14-time Funny Car champion, who was more concerned with Bernstein's fate, even though he was obviously aware of his own injuries, was airlifted to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas and is now expected to make a full recovery. His daughter Ashley
, an NHRA drag racer who was also featured on Driving Force
, withdrew from the semifinals to be with her father at the hospital.
"I called the NHRA and told them not to give up on me for Richmond yet," Force said after the accident. "It's not my driving foot that's hurt, and maybe we can rig something. You never know."
The top four Funny Car drivers following the Richmond event will advance to the two-race finals of the NHRA's championship Countdown. Force is currently in fourth place but would drop back if he doesn't compete at Richmond.
-Kris De Leon, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of ESPN)