My Inaugural Trip to the Indy 500

October 20th, 2011

By John Force

From left to right: Robert Hight, John Force, Courtney Force and NHRA President Tom Compton on pit road.

My inaugural trip to the Indy 500 was a whirlwind of fans, Indy drivers, media and a lot of walking. For three days I was all over the place with my drivers Robert Hight, Mike Neff and my youngest daughter Courtney. We signed autographs and mingled with fans three different times at my John Force Road Show on the corner of 16th Avenue and Georgetown, just outside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At first I wasn’t sure that was the best place. As soon as I got into Indy I drove down to The Speedway at 1 a.m. to check it out. Every day more and more people came by.

It was great to have the Road Show big rig on site. We had six Funny Cars on display, including my Superman Funny Car and one of my Elvis Funny Cars. We also had Courtney’s BrandSource Mustang, Robert’s Auto Club Mustang and one of Neff’s cars. With awnings on both sides of the trailer and all of the videos playing it was quite a sight. I think the fans really enjoyed seeing everything, and we are going to continue to make it better and better. I am talking with people from NASCAR and Indy teams to add more racing footage and information.

I know NHRA Full Throttle drag racing, so that is the gospel I am going to spread. I want people to be able to see a little bit of everything so we’ll continue to add stuff. I really want to get driver interviews where they talk about what they love about racing. Those are the stories that I think people want to hear.

The crew at AJ Foyt Racing, from left to right: Courtney Force, Robert Hight, AJ Foyt, Tom Compton and John Force.

I could not believe how big The Speedway was. My people told me we would be doing a lot of walking, but at the end of the first day all I wanted to do was get a couple of ice cold drinks and pour them into my cowboy boots to cool off my feet.

On Friday we walked down to pit road and watched some of Carb Day, which was pretty cool. I love being close to the action. A number of crew guys came up and talked to us, but I was really excited to talk to so many fans. We were joined by NHRA President Tom Compton on Friday and you know when you are with the president you want to make a good impression. At one point in the garage we were surrounded by fans who couldn’t believe John Force was at the Indy 500.

The open house at the John Force Racing Shop in Brownsburg (just outside of Indianapolis) was a huge hit.

In the garage we were able to talk with an Indy legend, AJ Foyt. That was special because I am trying to teach my youngest, Courtney, what it takes to be a championship driver. Having her meet legends like AJ Foyt goes a long way in her education. He is a real Texas gentleman. We walked and walked all over that place. The staff offered me a golf cart, but I wanted to be out there with the fans. We also chatted with Will Power, and I was able to talk with Target team owner Chip Ganassi for a few minutes.

Saturday morning I went to the AARWBA media breakfast. That was a big deal because there were media people there from all over the world covering the race. They asked me to get up and say a few words. A lot of people before me talked about only having missed 30 or 40 Indy 500s and I had to tell them that I had missed the first 99 years of the Indy 500, but I wasn’t going to miss many more. That is one race that I think you have to see in person.

On Sunday, I watched the race from the Hulman-George family suite. I can’t thank the folks at the Indy 500 enough. They rolled out the red carpet for us, probably because we had Tom Compton with us. I can’t thank him enough for taking time out of his schedule to go with us. We got to spread the gospel for three days. I was worn out at the end, but that is what we do. I can’t wait to get to Englishtown.

Before I wrap this up I also have to say thank all of the fans who came to our Brownsburg shop on Saturday before the 500. It was a busy day, and we had people coming and going all afternoon. I want to especially thank all of my people for working all day to make sure everything went well. That means a lot to me and to the Brownsburg community.

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