The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his historic motorsports career and his dedication to racing safety.
“I never had this kind of opportunity,” Force told the students and faculty during the special ceremony. “I learned on the race tracks and in the board rooms. I got an education at truck stops across the country.
“I am honored to receive this doctorate mainly because I saw the passion these UNOH students have for motorsports as well as their other programs,” he added. “They are really turning their passions into careers here. I could not be more impressed with what I saw around campus and I am excited to be Dr. Force.”
Force, as well as 2017 Funny Car champion Robert Hight, 2017 Top Fuel champion Brittany Force and winningest female Funny Car driver Courtney Force, toured the UNOH campus. The group met with students in a variety of degree programs and also spent time with the students on the successful UNOH motorsports team.
UNOH president, Dr. Jeffrey A. Jarvis, presented Force with the honorary degree during a special ceremony at the UNOH Event Center. Current students, faculty, staff and special guests were in attendance filling the center to near capacity.
“John Force is truly a wonderful role model and icon in the motorsports industry. He is not only a championship driver, but he embraces a love for the future of the sport which lies within many of our students today,” Jarvis said. “John Force Racing has employed UNOH graduates for many years. It was an easy decision to honor a man that has had such a large impact in the racing industry, business community, and educational environment. We are thrilled to have John Force join the UNOH family.”
The University of Northwestern Ohio is the first university to honor Force in this way. With this degree, Force became the first drag racer recognized in this manner. He became the third motorsports luminary after Richard Petty and Richard Childress to receive honorary doctorates. Childress was honored by UNOH in 2013.
Still one of the most popular drivers on the NHRA circuit, Force makes two yearly trips to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk. A portion of the grandstands were named in his honor in 2000, with a picture of him on display at the top.
“To be awarded an honorary doctorate, that’s pretty exciting,” Force said. “Heck, I only went to college until noon. On a serious note, I’m going to be a car doctor and my life has been drag racing and motorsports. It has also been safety and making sure my kids and all the other racers are safe.”