Sonoma Raceway notes: NHRA's John Force keeps up colorful antics

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John Force didn’t need the coffee to be wound up after getting the “monkey” off his back to earn his 150th win in Funny Car almost two weeks ago at the NHRA Northwest Nationals.

Force, the NHRA’s greatest, padded his all-time win record with his landmark victory against Ron Capps (who riled Force up while posing as a Sonoma Raceway gate employee earlier this summer) and jumped out of his hot rod, spitting words and saliva at the camera like only he can, even dropping a few f-bombs along the way.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Force quickly added after realizing it was being broadcast live.

And then Capps came up in his helmet and firesuit and congratulated Force, who told him, “I love you.” Capps: “I love you, too.” Force: “The best right here,” acknowledging Capps.

And then he talked about the longstanding monkey he was so tired of — failing to win his 150th for nearly a year after taking a win at the Mile-High Nationals in Colorado in July 2018.

“And don’t tell me it don’t screw you up,” Force said. “I’ve been screwed up for 25 races. And god I’m glad that monkey’s gone … I’m gonna shoot that … where’s that monkey? I love that monkey now … I’m going in the stands!”

“We finally got it, 150, and I’m over this s---!” Force said in a somewhat more proper post-race interview.

Then the 70-year-old dashed on his scooter over to the starting line to watch Austin Prock, a prodigy of his, win the Top Fuel final. And then he dashed across the racetrack, over the dividing wall, climbed over a fence, fell on his butt and then got help over the fence separating the track from the bleachers to celebrate win No. 150 with his people.

Formula drift

The Sonoma Raceway will host Sonoma Drift after a four-year hiatus. The competition will see 40 drivers compete for three available Formula Pro Drift 2 licenses, which will allow the winners to compete professionally.

The competitors will race in front of Formula Drift judges.

Spectator tickets for the Saturday-Sunday event are $30 for a two-day pass and $15 for a one-day ticket. For more information, visit:

Wednesday Night Drags

Four Sonoma County residents took home crowns on Wednesday night.

Nick Bublitz captured the Jackpot Division, riding his 2010 Chevrolet Corvette to a victory over Petaluma’s Marko Perlovalris in a 1963 Chevy Nova. Bill Burns captured the Gear Jammer division in a 1982 Ford Mustang. Tommy Johnson of Santa Rosa won the Comp Rod division in a 1970 Chevrolet Camaro and Iszael Cabullero won the Sport Street division in a 2010 Lexus.

The Wednesday Night Drags program runs almost every Wednesday. Currently in its 31st year, it runs from March 13 through Nov. 13. Fans can race their vehicles down the quarter-mile drag strip in a controlled environment away from city streets. Gates open at 3:30 p.m., with racing from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Competitors must have a driver’s license to compete, their cars must pass a technical inspection and all vehicles must have mufflers. Up to 300 cars are allowed to enter.

Running alongside the drags will be Sonoma Drift, where pros and amateurs can swing wheels to perfect their drifting techniques. Speed is secondary as competitors are judged on the style and execution of their drift through a marked course in the raceway’s paddock. Cars must pass a technical inspection before being allowed to drift.

Drifting starts at 4 p.m. Drivers pay $25 and high school students with ID can race for $15 at the gate. Spectators can watch for $10.

Top the cops

Two Sonoma County high school students took home victories against the police: Analy High’s Joseph McBurney defeated a Fairfield police officer and Dakota Foakes defeated a Novato police officer.

The Top the Cops program provides high school students across the Bay Area an opportunity to race against law enforcement officers every Wednesday night. The raceway touts the program, in its 25th season, as an alternative to illegal street racing and provides kids with the chance to speak with officers about safe driving and other rules of the road. It runs alongside almost every Wednesday Night Drags event through Aug. 28.

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