Hight, Force Hood to take new JFR leadership roles; Road Show display to debut

In a series of announcements made Tuesday at his headquarters race shop in Yorba Linda, Calif., 15-time NHRA Funny Car world champ John Force laid the groundwork for the future of his drag racing empire by naming son-in-law Robert Hight the new president of John Force Racing and daughter Ashley Force Hood as president of John Force Entertainment to oversee a variety of multimedia projects, including a new reality TV show.

Force, who will assume the position of CEO of JFR, also named longtime team member and crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli as general manager of the John Force Racing facility in Brownsburg, Ind., and announced the creation of a mobile Road Show that will display at sites in the same market as NHRA events to further spread the word about his team and NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing.
Robert Hight

Hight, the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion and 2005 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner as the NHRA rookie of the year, began his career at John Force Racing as a crewmember in 1995 and 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 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.”

For Hight, this is just another acknowledgment of his dedication to JFR 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.
Ashley Force Hood

Force Hood, meanwhile, takes control of John Force Entertainment, a full-service entertainment company that will immediately begin developing a new reality television show, work toward completion and publication of a John Force biography, and explore the development of the biography into a feature-length film and documentary.

“Even before I started racing Funny Cars, I had a passion for moviemaking and photography,” said Force Hood, a radio, TV, and film graduate of Cal State-Fullerton. “This will be an exciting opportunity to develop some of my own projects as well as projects that John Force Racing has been trying to get off the ground for some time.

“Our projects will not solely be racing. We will constantly be looking for opportunities to work with the local community as well as the greater Southern California area,” said the former cheerleader at Yorba Linda’s Esperanza High School.

John Force Entertainment also has hired television producer Brent Travers to work with Force Hood, primarily on the development of the reality television show. Travers oversaw the development and production of Driving Force, A&E’s wildly popular television show that centered on Force and his three racing daughters. Travers insists that any new show will not be Driving Force Part 2.

“We are looking to develop a show around Courtney Force as she learns the ropes racing a Mustang Funny Car under the tutelage of her successful older sister Ashley, brother-in-law Robert, and her 15-time Funny Car champion father,” he said. “In addition to the television show, we are looking at developing a wide variety of media projects that range from mobile applications to feature-length films. There is a virtual treasure chest of content opportunities here, and my goal is to work with Ashley to maximize our efforts.”

In the past month, the Yorba Linda race shop has been completely remodeled to house a theater with stage and stadium seating for more than 50 people. Additionally, full production studios and edit bays have been added on two separate floors of the building. John Force Entertainment will use Red Digital Cinema technology for its productions. This is the same technology that Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson is using on The Hobbit and that directors such as Steven Soderbergh (Che) and David Fincher (The Social Network) have used.

Longtime JFR friend Rick Gamora has also been helpful in offering advice as well as additional studio space. Gamora has offered the use of his 150,000-square-foot Long Beach, Calif., studio for projects that need to utilize more space. JFR and Gamora have worked on a number of projects and look forward to growing their production studio relationship.

Force Hood and Travers have also been working directly with Jim Jannard, Red Digital Cinema founder, to begin putting together a technology and equipment plan for John Force Entertainment to use as the company grows.
Dean Antonelli

Antonelli’s appointment is a progression for the popular crew chief, who tunes Force Hood’s Castrol Mustang. He has been instrumental in overseeing and managing the 150,000-square-foot Brownsburg 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 for 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 presented by Lucas Oil and top-three 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.”

Force also unveiled the John Force Racing Road Show, a multiple-trailer caravan that will travel the country in conjunction with Force’s four Ford Mustang Funny Car teams, spreading the gospel of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing at drag race events, movie theaters, malls, airports, car shows, and anywhere else that Force thinks he can get a crowd and sell the sport with which he fell in love as a young man in Southern California.

“I love this sport, and I want as many people to see my hot rods as possible,” said the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection. “Last year, we added a sponsor trailer to help our sponsors like Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools, and BrandSource activate at the track with us. I want to take it to the next level and activate for my sponsors away from the track in the cities where we are racing.

“I know once fans see my Mustangs and maybe watch a video, they will want to see more. We have a great sport, and NHRA is a great partner. I want to do everything I can so my sponsors, my drivers, and our sport can continue to succeed,” said Force.

The John Force Racing Road Show will consist of multiple Ford Mustang show cars as well as an apparel trailer and interactive displays and will travel in conjunction with the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. In most instances, the JFR Road Show will set up Wednesday or Thursday and be open free to the public through the race weekend.

On Sunday night or early Monday morning, the trailers will load up and, just like the Barnum & Bailey Circus, leave town. In select markets, the BrandSource Funny Car, which will be part of the Road Show, will be tested by Courtney Force as the 22-year-old works toward her license.

source NHRA.com

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