As drag racing's best arrived in New England on Thursday for their next event, driver John Force was coming off another win last weekend at age 64.
Let that sink in for a moment. Sixty-four.
Force is the legendary 15-time champion in funny cars, one of the two elite divisions featuring 7,000-horsepower dragsters in the National Hot Rod Assn.'s premier Mello Yello Series. The other is top fuel.
The nitromethane-powered cars cover the 1,000-foot races in less than 4.5 seconds at speeds topping 300 mph. And to win, drivers need superlative reflexes off the starting line.
That Force, in his 60s, still has the right stuff is remarkable. His win last weekend in Bristol, Tenn., was the 135th of his career, broke a 31-event winless streak for Force and made him the oldest funny car winner in history.
"People ask me when is enough enough?" Force said ahead of this weekend's New England Nationals, a new event on the NHRA calendar in Epping, N.H. "I'll know when it's time, and it's not time yet."
Force has his own Yorba Linda-based team, which includes two of his daughters: Courtney, who also races funny cars, and Brittany, a rookie in top fuel.
"I'm in the gym every day trying to keep myself in the game," John Force said. "I'm not giving up the seat as long as I can compete with these kids. That's what keeps me young."