National Hot Rod Assoc. (NHRA) Champion John Force ended up in the hospital Sunday after his Peak Team funny car exploded in a shocking fireball on the track during the first round of eliminations at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.

On the tail of his winning run against driver Terry Haddock, the 75-year-old racing legend’s engine exploded in a violent fury, causing his car to careen back and forth from one wall to the other like a fiery pinball.

Force had reached 302.62 mph during the run, according to Autoweek.


The famed driver was able to exit the car under his own power and was alert and talking to rescue workers, though he was quickly carted off to the hospital.

“During the first round of Funny Car eliminations at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals on Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park, John Force’s Funny Car suffered an engine explosion at the finish line and then crossed the centerline, striking both guard walls before coming to a stop,” the NHRA said, according to Fox News.

“Force was alert and was examined onsite by the NHRA Medical Team before being transported to a local medical facility for further evaluation.”

John Force is a huge name on the race circuit with 16 NHRA championship titles. He is also a 22-time racing team owner. He won ten straight championships from 1993 to 2002.

Force’s two-time Top Fuel champion daughter, Brittany Force, said that her dad would be OK: “My dad’s going to be all right. I was in the ambulance with him, holding his hand. And he’s one of the toughest people I know. So he’ll bounce back like he always does.”

Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon added, “We love what we do, but we’re all thinking about John at this point.”

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