Medlen Returns To JFR
Former John Force Racing crew chief John Medlen said Tuesday that he will return to JFR in the new capacity of Director of Technology and Safety.
“I found out John Medlen became available over the weekend and I offered him a job to come back to work with us on safety,” team owner John Force said. “He is a leader in safety. I always wanted John Medlen back because he is like family. I am excited to have him back in our brain-trust. He will start immediately and he will get to work with the other crew chiefs building on a lot of the safety ideas we have worked on over the winter. We had a strong test session but we need to keep working on ideas and projects throughout the season. That is what Medlen will do for us.”
Medlen, who left JFR in 2010 when the economic downturn forced team owner John Force to park the Ford Mustang in which Mike Neff earned 2008 Rookie-of-the-Year recognition, will oversee an expanding research-and-development program designed to insure the team’s overall success and safety for years to come. He will also work with Ford Racing engineers to continue to develop the BOSS 500 engine.
“I’m thrilled to be back here at John Force Racing. This is truly a family environment and I have missed it. From the time I walked in the door, everything has been the same,” Medlen said. “The people, the hospitality; nothing has changed. We’re all looking forward to a great year racing four Funny Cars and going for that championship. I’m excited to be here and have the opportunity to be back in the family.”
Appropriately, the 61-year-old veteran will work from within The Eric Medlen Project, a research and safety initiative founded and funded by John Force following the 2007 testing accident that claimed the life of one of the sport’s rising young stars, John Medlen’s son Eric.
The Eric Medlen Project is housed in JFR’s massive midwest shop facility in Brownsburg, Ind.
A talented designer and machinist, Medlen not only spearheaded the BOSS 500 engine program but also was instrumental in helping to develop the three-rail chassis to which the team converted its Ford Mustangs in 2008.
“Few people will ever know of the many engineering contributions that John Medlen has made to drag racing,” said JFR senior crew chief Bernie Fedderly. “He was the real ‘mad scientist’ in our group. I don’t think there’s anything he can’t build.”
A self-taught engineer, Medlen plied his trade as crew chief for Don “the Snake” Prudhomme and Chuck Etchells, among others, before briefly working as General Manager of Callies Crankshafts, Inc., in Fostoria Ohio. He was lured back to drag racing when Force offered him the chance to run a R&D team in 1996.
The result of that collaboration with driver Pedregon was a second place finish behind Force. The team finished second two other times before winning the 2003 championship. When Pedregon left the team, Eric Medlen, an aspiring rodeo cowboy and mechanic on Force’s Castrol GTX Ford, was given an opportunity to race with his dad.
Medlen’s mechanical aptitude first was recognized by Bill Dyer, a high school shop teacher in Lodi, Calif. At Dyer’s suggestion, Medlen read everything he could about motors, engineering and machinery and, by the time he graduated from high school, he could disassemble and reassemble virtually anything with moving parts.
By the time he was 20, he owned his own machine shop and, by the time he turned 26, he had transformed a thriving automobile repair business into a custom parts fabrication facility that served his racing interests and those of his closest friends.No Comment