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Force Adds Veteran Writer Jerry Bonkowski to Lead PR Effort During ‘An Exciting Time’

With the acknowledgement that his almost 50-year career as a full-time professional Funny Car driver is nearing an end, John Force has announced the hiring of author, award-winning journalist and motorsports podcast host Jerry Bonkowski to manage the public relations and publicity effort for John Force Racing, Inc., as the company moves forward.

“I still love to drive my hot rod and I still believe I can win,” said the man who this year will climb back into the cockpit of the PEAK Coolant and Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS to pursue an unprecedented 17th NHRA championship, “but I’m going to be 75 years old and there are some things I want to do down the road that I can’t (do) if I’m racing every week.

“I’ve always talked about a book, which basically is already done, about a studio TV show, maybe another reality show (following the breakthrough A&E real-life series ‘Driving Force’ that debuted in 2006) and a movie (for which a script already has been written),” said the 155-time Mission Foods tour winner, “and I really want to race with my grandkids.”

Although Bonkowski will lead the public relations effort moving forward, he will benefit from a framework already in place at JFR that includes Vice President and Creative Director Ashley Hood, Armando Villa, A.J. England, Darin Williams Jr. and a soon-to-be-named social media director. 

“Bonkowski has the contacts to help make everything happen for PEAK, Chevrolet, Monster, Cornwell Tools, AAA and all our other sponsors, but it’s always a team effort,” Force said, adding that Dave Densmore also will continue to contribute as a consultant. “He has all the stats, he knows where the bodies are buried and he’s the only one who’ll still laugh at my jokes.” 

A Chicago native, Bonkowski for more than 35 years has covered all forms of auto racing as a senior-level writer and columnist for some of the largest publications and digital outlets in the world including USA Today, for which he was senior motorsports writer for 15 years, AutoWeek, Sports Illustrated’s Auto Racing Digest, ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports and NBCSports.com.

He also has extensive broadcast experience, having contributed content and commentary to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 for the last 20 years while also hosting his own podcast, “The Racing Beat.” In 2010, he expanded his resume as author of the book “Trading Paint: 101 Great NASCAR Debates.”

A graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College, from which he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications, Bonkowski also earned a Master’s degree in Sports Administration with an emphasis on Sports Communications from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio

In addition to his racing credentials, Bonkowski has covered Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL while at USA Today and worked all six Chicago Bulls NBA championships, the 1985 Chicago Bears’ race to the Super Bowl and Tiger Woods’ 1996 PGA debut. His extensive freelance resume includes articles on such diverse topics as Southeast Asia, the military and Medicare.

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He and his wife, Cyndee, reside in Chicago. They share three children, daughters Heather (Hartmann) and Sarah (Shaw), and son Bradley.

This story was originally published on March 5, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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