John Force suffered traumatic brain injury in Virginia Nationals crash, was unable to follow commands for days

His team said that Force 'still faces a long and difficult recovery ahead and for the immediate future'

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03: NHRA legend John Force speaks with members of the media before the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube NASCAR Cup Series race on March 3, 2024, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Jeff Speer/LVMS/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
John Force has won 157 NHRA races and captured 16 Funny Car titles. (Photo by Jeff Speer/LVMS/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

John Force’s team said Sunday that the longtime NHRA Funny Car driver had suffered a traumatic brain injury and revealed that he’d been unable to respond to commands from doctors for days following his fiery crash at the Virginia Nationals.

John Force Racing said in a statement that the 75-year-old Force “failed to follow the series of commands to open his eyes, squeeze the hands of his care providers and move his extremities” for four days after his crash. The team had previously said that Force was moved from trauma intensive care to neurological intensive care earlier in the week.

“He became more consistent responding to commands and finally opened his eyes on day five,” the statement said. “Following days of failed attempts, his wife and daughters were overcome with emotion when he murmured his name ‘John Force’ and later when prompted, gave a thumbs up.”

“The biggest challenge has been managing his extreme agitation and confusion, which causes him significant distress. He has repeatedly tried to get out of bed and has been restrained; his doctors have humorously described him as a raging bull.”

The team added that Force “still faces a long and difficult recovery ahead and for the immediate future.”

Force’s car crashed in the first round of eliminations a week ago at the Virginia Nationals when his engine exploded. The explosion caused his car to slam into two outside concrete walls before coming to rest. After the crash, John Force Racing said that Force was conscious and communicating with safety workers who helped get him out of the car.

Force has 16 Funny Car titles and has won 157 races over the course of his legendary NHRA career. He was second in the points standings at the time of his crash behind teammate Austin Prock. Force’s daughter Brittany competes in the NHRA’s Top Fuel division and didn’t compete in this weekend’s event in Norwalk, Ohio, to stay with her father at the hospital.