NHRA drag racing legend John Force suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fiery 300 mph crash in Virginia a week ago, but is showing “daily signs of improvement” in a neurological intensive care unit, his team said.

RICHMOND, Va. — NHRA drag racing legend John Force suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fiery 300 mph crash a week ago at the Virginia Nationals, but is showing “daily signs of improvement” in a neurological intensive care unit, according to his team.

John Force Racing said Sunday that the 75-year-old Force initially could not follow commands to open his eyes, squeeze caregivers’ hands or move his limbs after the crash. After five days of heavy sedation, he began to gain strength, including being able to respond to commands such as giving a thumbs up and recognizing family members, calling them by name and saying “I love you.”

Force was transferred from a trauma ICU to a neurological ICU on Wednesday, where he will remain for the foreseeable future and where he continues to “have a long and difficult recovery ahead of him,” the team’s statement said.

“The biggest challenge was managing his extreme agitation and confusion, which caused him a great deal of stress,” the statement said.

During the first round of the Funny Car elimination race on June 23, Force’s car suffered catastrophic engine failure at the finish line. The car crossed the center line and struck the left concrete wall, before flying back into the right wall.

Force was alert and immediately spoke to safety personnel after crashing at 302 mph. The Hall of Fame owner and driver was evaluated at the track by the NHRA medical team before being airlifted to a hospital.

In 2007, at age 58, Force was seriously injured in a racing accident in Ennis, Texas. He has continued to race at the highest level; four weeks ago in New Hampshire, Force raced to his record 157th NHRA victory and second of the season.

Force’s daughter, Brittany, a two-time world champion, was in the hospital with her mother, Laurie, and three sisters. She will not race this weekend in Norwalk, Ohio, and will remain with her family in the hospital.

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