16-Time NHRA Champion John Force Transferred to Rehab Center

NHRA Carolinas Nationals - Day 3

Photo: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - John Force, a 16-time National Hot Rod Association champion from Yorba Linda, is receiving treatment Wednesday at a neurological rehab center in Virginia after spending 15 days in intensive care at VCU Medical Center following a catastrophic crash during a race at Virginia Motorsports Park.

Force is being treated for a traumatic brain injury. He was taken to the neurological rehab center in a three-hour helicopter flight from VCU Medical Center on Tuesday. Family members said the transfer was considered "to be a major step forward in the recovery process," according to a statement from John Force Racing.

"Family members said that no timetable had been established for the length of Force's stay at the new facility which was selected because of its success in treating other race car drivers with similar issues," the team said.

Force was transferred Friday to a neurological care unit and out of neuro-intensive care where he was treated for the traumatic brain injury he suffered when he crashed during a race in Virginia.

Force fractured his sternum and injured his right wrist in the crash at the Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park on June 23 during the first round of eliminations. He was taken to a trauma center by helicopter in Virginia following the crash and was later transferred to a neurological intensive care unit for brain injury treatment.

Doctors acknowledged Force's positive response to treatment. He has been able to talk to medical staff, family members and John Force Racing president Robert Hight, who flew to Virginia last week to be with Force and his family at the hospital.

Force is having difficulty with cognitive and behavioral symptoms, according to a report from the team Friday. He has experienced periods of confusion, which doctors say will require time and patience to treat.

Force has also regained his equilibrium and has been able to walk with assistance from medical staff members.

The 75-year-old Force, who was born in Bell Gardens and attended Cerritos College, hit the concrete guard wall at the dragstrip just outside of Petersburg, Virginia at 302 mph. He was taken by helicopter to a trauma hospital in Virginia where he was observed and evaluated for his injuries.

He was moved from an intensive care unit to a neurological care unit where doctors focused on the immediate concern of injuries to Force's head.

His wife, Laurie, daughters Brittany, Adria, Ashley and Courtney and other family members have been with Force during his hospital treatments.

Brittany Force is a two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion and races for her father's team, John Force Racing, which is based in Yorba Linda. Ashley Force Hood and Courtney Force have competed in NHRA events in the past for John Force Racing. Adria Force is the CFO of John Force Racing.

John Force started his NHRA Funny Car racing career in 1978 and won his first NHRA championship in 1990. He won 10 NHRA Funny Car championships from 1990 to 2000 and 10 in a row from 1993 to 2002.

He survived a violent crash in September 2007 at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals in Ennis, Texas that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He broke his ankle, dislocated his wrist, and his fingers and toes were badly mangled in the crash.

He won his 16th NHRA Funny Car championship in 2013. He won the season- opening event in 2014 at the In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.

Force won the 157th NHRA Funny Car race of his career at New England Dragway in New Hampshire on June 2.

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