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Force suffers broken ankle, wrist in collision with Bernstein

9/23/2007

DALLAS -- Drag-racing star John Force was alert and
conscious Sunday after sustaining serious injuries in a wreck with
Funny Car rival Kenny Bernstein during the O'Reilly NHRA Fall
Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis.

Team spokesman Elon Werner said the 58-year-old Force broke his
left ankle and his left wrist and suffered a severe abrasion to his
right knee.

"John's chassis broke in half and the engine and front two
wheels were over in Kenny's lane, and that's what Kenny hit,"
Werner said.

Force, a 14-time champion, was airlifted to Baylor University
Medical Center in Dallas, where Werner said doctors planned surgery
Sunday night to clean up the abrasions and possibly set the broken
bones.

"He was alert and obviously in a lot of pain, but the whole
time he was asking questions. His primary concern was for Kenny
Bernstein," Werner said.

Werner said a CT scan came back negative for internal injuries.
He also said Force sustained some minor fractures and severe
abrasions to the tips of his fingers.

The John Force Team issued a statement saying the prognosis for
a full recovery was very good.

The wreck occurred just after the two cars crossed the finish
line in the second round of eliminations.

Daughter Ashley Force, also a Funny Car driver, pulled out of
the semifinals.

Force's wife, Laurie; Ashley; and son-in-law Robert Hight -- also
a Funny Car driver -- were with him at the hospital.

"First of all, I just pray that John's going to be OK," said
Bernstein, who wasn't injured in the accident. "I know he's hurt
and the main thing I'm praying for is that he gets 100-percent
recovery. That's more important than anything right now for me,
Sheryl, and our team. I know he was talking to me there and he was
asking if he hurt me. That's typical John right there. He'll be OK.
He's a strong-willed man. He'll be fine."

Top Fuel winner Larry Dixon spoke about Force.

"I'm glad that [John Force is] alive," Dixon said. "From that
point you can fix anything. A lot of credit goes to the Safety
Safari, the medical team, and the rules package for the way the
cars have to be built so that you can survive an accident like
that. I feel safer in my car that goes 330 mph than I do in my
rental car going 55 mph on the way to the track. I feel like I
could run over a nuclear bomb, and I trust in that. He'll be back
racing one day. You can count on that."

Ennis is about 30 miles south-southeast of Dallas.