Jeff Gordon is currently running his final full-time Sprint Cup Series season, a fact that isn’t lost on many of the friends Gordon has made in the motorsports realm over the years. That includes John Force, who will run a No. 24 Jeff Gordon flame-style paint scheme on his Camaro SS Funny Car at the NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend in the four-time champion’s honor.
Force first met Gordon in the early 1990s, when they were seated next to each other at an end-of-season awards banquet. The young Gordon quipped to Force that he was nervous about speaking in front of such a large crowd, so Force gave him a few pointers. Gordon used the advice, and still recalls the story to this day.
Some time later, Gordon and Force crossed paths once again at Auto Club Speedway, when Force was making an In-N-Out burger run for various NASCAR drivers. Due to a mix-up with his limo driver, Force ended up driving his limo to the track himself and thus had to take it to get burgers. It later ran out of gas on the burger run, making for a memorable story between Gordon, Force and their fellow drivers.
“I got the idea for the flames from Jeff telling me years ago he was a fan because I was always on fire,” Force said. “He was right; when I got started, we were on fire from here to Australia. I always enjoyed seeing Jeff at races and award banquets. The guy was just so polite and professional, but you knew he had the eye of the tiger, too. You don’t win all those championships on your good looks.
“This special Funny Car is just a way for me, my family, my team, my sponsors, NHRA, and the fans to say thank you for being a great champion and being such a great driver in NASCAR, Force added. “I put as many flames as my designer Brandon (Baker) could fit on my hot rod in Jeff’s honor.”
Force and his Jeff Gordon tribute Camaro will take to the track when qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals kicks off on Friday, September 18.