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Junior Johnson Biography - Son Of A Moonshiner, Professional Racer, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Fifty Nascar Wins - CONTACT INFORMATION

driving car american racing

1930-

American race car driver

Junior Johnson was among the pioneers of organized stock car racing and one its most successful practitioners as a driver, mechanic, and team owner. Johnson brought both notoriety and respect to a motorsport that had its beginnings in the hills and mountains of the American South, and grew into the multi-million dollar Winston Cup National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). The notoriety derived from the fact that many of the sport's best drivers—of whom Johnson was the best known—learned and honed their talents by evading the law. These individuals not only mastered the art of evasive and fast driving on the hairpin turns and gouged roadways of the North Carolina countryside, they also became shade-tree mechanics of note. They fine-tuned their cars into professional race-worthy vehicles in order to run illegal, bootlegged liquor from the mountain stills where it was manufactured to the cities and saloons where it was sold.

After serving eleven months of a two-year prison term in 1956, Johnson devoted more of his time to professional racing than bootlegging, and proceeded to

Junior Johnson

revolutionize the sport with an intimidating driving style. It included the first use of aerodynamic drafting—driving in the vacuum developed behind the bumper of a leading car to save fuel, which increases the speed of both vehicles in a push-pull dynamic-in the 1960 Daytona 500. He also pioneered the use of two-way radios between the driver and pit crew. Johnson garnered fifty NASCAR wins before retiring from driving in 1966, the year following publication of Tom Wolfe's essay, "The Last American Hero" in Esquire magazine, in which Johnson was portrayed as a savvy good 'ol boy who flummoxed both the law and Detroit's Big Three automakers with his mechanical savvy and hard-charging driving style. This characterization was reinforced when Jeff Bridges portrayed Johnson in the 1973 movie The Last American Hero. After retiring from driving, Johnson then turned his attention to running race operations with such drivers as Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, and Terry Labonte. In 1970, Johnson was already a pioneer in obtaining corporate sponsorship for his racing vehicles. He furthered these inroads when he became instrumental in the decision of R.J. Reynolds to underwrite the sponsorship for NASCAR, thus beginning the Winston Cup NASCAR series brand.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: 1950 Flintstone Drive, Statesville, NC 28677. Address: c/o Penske Corporation Headquarters, 2555 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302-0954. Phone: (248) 614-1122.

Sketch by Bruce Walker

Rick Mears Biography - From Off-road Champion To Indy Champion, Dominated Racing In The 1980s, Chronology, Respected By His Peers - CONTACT INFORMATION [next] [back] Janet Guthrie Biography - A Thirst For Adventure, A Pioneering Racing Career, Few Women Followed Her Lead, Chronology - CONTACT INFORMATION

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over 1 year ago

I have two limited editions pictures autographed by Junior Johnson. They are Moonshiner Mechanics and Likker Business. I would like to know what they are worth? Thank you for your time!

Rebecca!

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almost 7 years ago

Dear Mr. Johnson, Do you remember back in June-July 1966 when your cousin John (JT) Ragsdale (from Geenville SC) came to visit with his new wife and her son from California ? I am his stepson Alan Pegg. I was 12 yrs old then and you took me for a ride around your farm in your Nascar Ford. Scarred the hell out of me but, I have been a diehard Nascar fan ever since. Just wanted to say Hey and Thanks !

Alan

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about 7 years ago

We thoroughly enjoyed the race yesterday and the inductions today. My hsband,Eddie lee Jones, and I were talking about your speech and you son. I told him, that he was handsome anda that he looked as though he thought the world of you. Ed asked me, if he had ever told me about the moonshine racing? His brother, John Jones, from Kscuisko, Mississippi used to run shine with. I have five grandkids, and the oldet three are racing fans.When my husband told them about this, their litle heads were so full. They thought their Papa's brother was the man, since he had been a frien of yours. Sure is a small world, isn't it. Take care of yourself, and enjoy your family. Trish Jones

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about 8 years ago

I am a junior at East Wilkes High School in Ronda NC. I am working on a graduation project. My project is a fund raiser for the autistic class room at Wilkesboro elementary. This is the only autistic classroom in Wilkes county.

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