YORBA LINDA, CA (January 25, 2011) --- Fifteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force announced today that he is reorganizing John Force Racing, Inc., and, effective immediately, is promoting his son-in-law, 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Champion Robert Hight, to president of the Yorba Linda-based drag racing dynasty that has won 17 of the last 21 NHRA Funny Car titles.
Speaking at a press conference at JFR corporate headquarters, Force outlined the new structure in which he will assume the position of CEO.
Hight, who started his career at John Force Racing as a crewman in 1995, steadily assumed more responsibilities including Facility Manager of the Yorba Linda shop, test driver and, finally, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang in which he has won 18 NHRA tour events.
“Robert and my daughter Adria (Hight’s wife and current JFR CFO) will run this company long after I am gone,” Force said. “Adria has been with this company her whole life. She used to sit in my lap and steer my truck. She had been running the business side with my brother-in-law David Arritt for over a decade.
“Robert is a strong leader and he understands every side of this company. He lives it just like I do every day of the year. At Thanksgiving, he and I always wind up going off in a corner and talking about business,” said Force.
For Hight, this is just another acknowledgment of his dedication to John Force Racing and particularly to his father-in-law.
“I have the highest respect for John. He never stops thinking about how to make this company better for everyone – from the crew guys to the crew chiefs to the sponsors to the fans. There is no way I could ever replace him and, trust me he isn’t going anywhere. I am excited to continue learning from him. This is an exciting day for me and Adria,” said Hight.
Hight won his first race as a crewman at John Force Racing (Denver, 1995) and his third race as a driver (Houston, 2005). He is the first driver in NHRA history to win multiple events in each of his first six pro seasons. He was NHRA Rookie of the Year in 2005, Full Throttle Champion in 2009 and owns the quickest times at both the quarter mile (4.636 seconds) and 1,000 foot (4.005 seconds) distances.
In addition to the new position for Hight, Force also announced that long-time JFR crewman and current crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli will take over as General Manager of the John Force Racing Brownsburg, Ind., facility. Antonelli has been instrumental in overseeing and managing the 150,000 square foot shop since it was opened in 2005.
“‘Guido’ has been running the Brownsburg shop with his wife, Kelly (JFR’s marketing director) for me for a couple of years now,” said Force. “I am just making it official. This is about moving the Next Generation of leaders up in my organization. We will still work as a team but every team needs a leader. ‘Guido’ used to be the team leader on my Funny Car and now he has his own team as crew chief. Having him run the Brownsburg shop was a natural fit.”
Antonelli was Team Leader on Force's car for 12 seasons and in nine of those seasons Force won the championship. In four seasons as co-crew chief to Ashley Force Hood, along with partner Ron Douglas, he sent the second generation driver to 16 final rounds, four wins and 15 No. 1 starts culminating in back-to-back wins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and Top 3 finishes in 2009 and 2010.
“Having John give me this opportunity is a real honor,” Antonelli said. “He is one of the best drivers I have ever seen and his passion for growing the sport is unmatched. When you look at what he has created in Brownsburg with our shop and The Eric Medlen Project, it is just amazing. My goal is to continue the positive momentum John has started and to build and expand our business model for both our own success and the success of our partners.”