Life in the fast lane: Intercontinental Champion John Morrison & John Force and Ashley Force Hood
If there's one thing WWE Superstars and NHRA drag racers have in common, it's competition. Intercontinental Champion John Morrison gets to know two of the sport's leading competitors -- 14-time NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force and his daughter, Ashley Force Hood, of John Force Racing, sponsored by Castrol.
John Morrison: Tell the WWE Universe what's new in your lives, both on and off the track.
Ashley Force Hood: We are currently No. 1 in the NHRA Full Throttle Championship points, so that's what we're really focused on at the track in our final few events of the 2009 season. Away from racing, I'm working on writing a children's activity book, getting ready for the end of the race season and the start of our "off season." Other than that, I'm basically busy spoiling my cat, Simba, since we've been on the road all year away from him.
John Force: I really don't have a lot of hobbies, because in my life I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week at racing. I do like to catch the odd football or baseball game on TV. Since my accident [September 2007 in Dallas], I've trained myself to be in the gym and work out, just to feel good throughout the day. I have a gym regimen that is four to five days a week. ... I just keep doing what I'm doing on the race track; searching for that 15th championship.
John Morrison: What kinds of similarities do you see between WWE and the world of NHRA drag racing?
Ashley Force Hood: It's all about the competition. We both have great fans with a passion for the sport. We both put in a lot of time training, testing and preparing for when it counts -- in competition.
John Force: The biggest similarity is that we are both in the entertainment business; we put on a show for the fans. Also, both are really competitive sports. I watched The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke and really saw what it takes to be a wrestler. Vince McMahon really transformed the sport into a bigger draw. WWE really engages the fans and really puts on a good show, just like NHRA.
John Morrison: Many WWE Superstars perform certain rituals before a match, such as listening to music, working out or eating certain foods. What do you do to prepare yourself -- mentally and physically -- on race day? What gets you fired up?
John Force: I prepare by getting my sleep. At my age (60), sleep is critical. I get my energy by going to the gym five days a week; keeping both my mind and body strong. I am learning to eat right and I don't drink alcohol anymore. But, really, rest and clearing my mind help me the most. I go into every event loving what I do and when it's time to race, I'm ready for the fight.
Ashley Force Hood: I'm all about being consistent and focused. That is when I perform at my best. I'm not one to run around the track whooping and hollering before a run. You'll find me hanging out with my race team, joking around and keeping the pressure away and remembering that what we do is fun and not to get too serious about it.
John Morrison: Tell the WWE Universe what's new with the rest of the John Force Racing family, including Courtney and Brittany.
John Force: My two youngest daughters, it's exciting for them right now... Brittany drives for BrandSource and Courtney for Sanyo in the Top Alcohol Dragster class. That's where Ashley evolved. Courtney wants to race full time, but I think Brittany is looking to be a school teacher. Right now, while they're both racing, I'm teaching them about the family business, so they have options. They are evolving in the company, but right now the priority for them is a college education and, at the end of the day, I just try to teach them a little about what their dad has done of the past 30 years.
John Morrison: How have things changed for the Force Family since we saw you on your A&E reality series, Driving Force?
Ashley Force Hood: It seems like Driving Force was a lifetime ago and everything has changed. We had a very tough year in 2007 and ended the show when our teammate, Eric Medlen, was killed in a testing accident. We stopped filming that day. My father also had a horrible accident six months later and spent months in Dallas recuperating. I'm proud to say that we have made many changes to these funny cars after those accidents and that the cars are safer now because of those changes. The Eric Medlen Project was created to work on new ideas for safety in all aspects of racing from the helmet to the chassis. Since the show ended, I also got married in December 2008 to my hubby, Dan Hood, whom I met during filming. We have a home in Chicago and also in Orange County so we try to spend time at both through out the year, which means lots of time at the airport.
John Morrison: If you were approached to do another reality show, would the Force family like to return to TV?
John Force: Without a doubt. A&E was a great network and fun to work with. And they really knew how to promote us, it put us in mainstream media. After 30 years in racing, I saw that my daughters were more well-known in airports than I was because of the two years on the TV show.
John Morrison: To those WWE fans that may not be familiar with NHRA, what would you tell them about the excitement and thrills of drag racing? Why would WWE fans enjoy NHRA?
Ashley Force Hood: An NHRA drag race has something for everyone. There are many different types of cars competing throughout the day, some at speeds of more than 315 mph. Fans can also go down into the pits and get autographs from drivers, watch the teams tear apart the engines and stand right behind 8,000 horsepower race cars as they warm up. Fans really get to use all of the senses, especially sight, smell, sound, and even feel the ground beneath them rumble when these cars tear down the track.
John Force: If they love WWE, they would love the NHRA. It's all about entertainment and personalities and in the NHRA, we give you personalities and we give you speed. Two race cars side by side traveling down the track at more than 300 mph… it's P.T. Barnum. It's a circus that rolls week after week. They'd love it!
John Morrison: John, you're still looking for your first win of the season. What are you and your team doing to secure a victory in '09?
John Force: We're really shuffling people around and doing whatever it takes and spending whatever it takes to win. At the end of the day, I have faith in my brain trust. Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly have been with me for years and, if they can't do it, nobody can. It's not always the destination, it's the journey. I'm a 14-time champion and I'm not winning, but I am on that journey right now, the journey to win my 15th Championship.
John Morrison: Ashley, earlier this season, you won the Mac Tools US Nationals in Indianapolis, becoming the first female Funny Car driver to win at that track and the first female to win in two different classes. Tell the WWE Universe about this great achievement!
Ashley Force Hood: It was great to win Indy, not because I'm a female, but because I'm a Funny Car driver and I know how competitive my class is and how hard it is to win any race, especially such a historic one, because everyone really wants to win the big Indy event. Most of my crew guys' families live in Indy and all my family was there for the race so it was great to make them all proud and celebrate with them at the end of the night.
John Morrison: John, if you weren't a drag racer, do you think you could make it in the world of WWE? What would your in-ring persona be like? Are there any skills that you've perfected while racing that could help you as a WWE Superstar?
John Force: First of all, even though I work out five to six days in the gym, even in my younger days, I never had the build that those WWE guys have. It's a lot about the look. I was never handsome and never had the build, so that's two strikes against me right there. But I could talk the talk. I know I can do that.
John Morrison: Ashley, the WWE Divas are sexy, smart and powerful, in and out of the wrestling ring, just like you are on and off the track. How do you think you'd fare as a WWE Diva? What would your finishing move be as a wrestler? Are there any skills that you learned while racing that could help you as a WWE Diva?
Ashley Force Hood: I'd be a horrible WWE Diva because I hate confrontation. That's why I picked a career where I'm in a helmet most of the time and let my amazing hot rod do the butt kicking on the racetrack instead.
John Morrison: Do either of you have any messages for your fans and the members of the WWE Universe?
Ashley Force Hood: Thank you for the support all season long and we hope to win this 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Championship and make all the girls out there proud. I'm the only female in my category and I'm leading the pack at this point so it's up to me and my great team of crew guys to get it done.
John Force: I want to say that I love all sports, but what I like most about WWE is that the fans support the stars they love. Whether they're good or bad, I show all the respect in the world to the men and women of WWE. That is hard work they do in that ring, day after day. It's unbelievable the bruises, bumps and injuries they incur and, yeah, it's a job, but they do it for the crowd.