FORCE CONTINUES REHAB
Thu, 2008-01-10 16:07
Just over three months after suffering severe injuries to his feet, hands and legs in a 300 mile-an-hour crash, John Force climbed into and out of the cockpit of his Castrol GTX® High Mileage™ Ford Mustang Funny Car last week in a special rehabilitation session at the John Force Racing complex supervised by physical therapy director Robert Ortmayer.
“It wasn’t easy,” Force said, “but I could do it. I said I’d be ready (for the NHRA’s 2008 season) and I will.”
In fact, just 100 days after being airlifted out of the Texas Motorplex, the 58-year-old drag racing icon has shed the casts on his feet and hands and is maneuvering without either a walker or cane.
Fitted with a special brace on a left foot that suffered the most traumatic injury – a compound fracture, the 14-time NHRA Funny Car Champion has been cleared to intensify an already rigorous physical therapy regimen in advance of the 2008 season.
Ortmayer, who owns Yorba Linda Physical Therapy, the facility at which Force has been re-habbing for the last two months, accompanied the 14-time champion when he met most recently with the hand and foot specialists with whom he has been consulting since the accident.
“He (Ortmayer} wanted to know how hard we could push it,” Force said, “because that’s what it takes. These guys understand what we do and that’s what’s made (the rapid recovery) possible. I’ve got to thank all my doctors, the ones here in California and the ones at Baylor (University Medical Center in Dallas).”
Ortmayer believes that Force’s stated goal of being ready to drive during pre-season testing Jan. 27-30 at Phoenix, Ariz., is achievable. That means that the 125-time tour winner should be ready to race when the 2008 season begins Feb. 7-10 with 48th annual CARQUEST Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Force said, “but I can tell I’m getting better – and that’s all I needed. We’re gonna go after the POWERade championship this year with four cars with me, my daughter Ashley, my son-in-law Robert Hight and Mike Neff, who’s teamed up this year with John Medlen.”
Force’s crew chief roster remains intact from 2007 with Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly co-chiefing the veteran’s Castrol GTX High Mileage entry, Jimmy Prock handling the duties for Hight on the Auto Club Ford, Dean “Guido” Antonelli tuning Ashley’s Castrol GTX Mustang and Medlen mantaining the fourth Mustang in which Neff will be seeking to become the third JFR driver in four years to win the Auto Club’s Road to the Future award that designates the NHRA’s Rookie of the Year.