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Tue, 11 Dec 2001, 09:19 AM

Force Named Eastern Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

GLENDORA, Calif. -- John Force has been selected as Driver of the Year by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association (EMPA), only the second drag racer to receive the prestigious honor in the 31-year history of the media organization.

Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., joins a distinguished list of past winners of the Al Holbert Memorial Award, including Top Fuel phenom Gary Scelzi, the only other drag racer to be honored by the media membership as its top driver. Force had a tremendous season in 2001. He earned a record 11th NHRA World Championship in Funny Car, driving his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to six victories and increasing his NHRA-leading career win total to 98. Meanwhile, he lowered the NHRA world performance record for elapsed time in his category to 4.731 seconds.

Scelzi was named the Al Holbert Memorial Award winner in 1997 after he clinched the NHRA Top Fuel World Championship as a rookie.

Force will be recognized during the Winston Hall of Fame Awards Dinner on Jan. 20 during the EMPA's annual convention, held at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, Pa. In addition, the EMPA will induct several drivers into its Hall of Fame, including the late Dale Earnhardt, USAC Sprint Car champions Mike Magill and Larry Dickson, and legendary Northeast modified racer Bobby Gerhart Sr.

More than 200 members of the media, reporting on a wide variety of motorsports events, participated in the voting process. The award is named in honor of the late Al Holbert, an outstanding sports car and Indy Car racer from Warrington, Pa.

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