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Junior Johnson

Junior Johnson

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Robert Glenn Johnson, Jr. (born June 28, 1931), better known as Junior Johnson, is a retired moonshine
Moonshine
Moonshine is an illegally produced distilled beverage...

r in the rural South who became one of the early superstars of NASCAR
NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 in the 1950s and 1960s. He won 50 NASCAR races in his career before retiring in 1966. In the 1970s and 1980s, he became a NASCAR racing team owner; he sponsored such NASCAR champions as Cale Yarborough
Cale Yarborough
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough , is a farmer, businessman and former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and owner. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships...

 and Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Lee Waltrip is a 3-time NASCAR Cup Series champion , 3-time runner-up , winner of the 1989 Daytona 500 and 5-time winner of the prestigeous Coca-Cola 600 ,...

. He now produces a line of fried pork skins
Pork rind
Pork rind , is the fried or roasted skin of a pig. Frying melts most of the fat from the pork rind...

 and country ham
Country ham
Country ham is a variety of cured ham, typically very salty, associated with the Southern United States. Country ham is first mentioned in print in 1944, referring to a method of curing and smoking done in the rural parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky and other nearby...

. He is credited with discovering drafting
Drafting (racing)
Drafting or slipstreaming is a technique where two vehicles or other moving objects are caused to align in a close group reducing the overall effect of drag due to exploiting the lead object's slipstream...

. He is nicknamed "The Last American Hero" and his autobiography is of the same name.

Driving days


Johnson was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina
Wilkes County, North Carolina
Wilkes County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The 2000 U.S. Census listed the county's population at 65,632; the 2010 U.S. Census listed the population at 69,340...

, the son of Lara Belle Money and Robert Glenn Johnson, Sr. He grew up on a farm and, like many of the pioneers of stock car racing, developed his driving skills running moonshine
Moonshine
Moonshine is an illegally produced distilled beverage...

 as a young man. He consistently outran and outwitted local police and federal agents in auto chases, and he was never caught while delivering moonshine to customers. Johnson became something of a legend in the rural South, where his driving expertise and "outlaw" image was much admired. Johnson is credited with inventing the "bootleg turn
Bootleg turn
A bootleg turn is a radical driving maneuver intended to reverse the direction of travel of a forward-moving automobile by 180 degrees in a minimum amount of time while staying within the width of a two-lane road...

," in which a driver escapes a pursuer by sharply putting his speeding car into a 180-degree turn on the highway, then speeding off in the opposite direction before his pursuer can turn around. Johnson was also known to buy and use police lights and sirens to fool policemen who had set up roadblocks into thinking that he was a fellow policeman; upon hearing his approach, the police would quickly remove the roadblocks, allowing Johnson to escape with his moonshine.

In 1955, Johnson decided to give up delivering moonshine for the more lucrative (and legal) career of being a NASCAR driver. He found that he was able to easily translate his "moonshiner" driving skills—hard-won on mountain roads—to the highly-pitched racing tracks of NASCAR. In his first full season, he won five races and finished sixth in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National points standings.

In 1956, federal tax agents found Johnson working at his father's moonshine still in Wilkes County and arrested him. Johnson was convicted of moonshining and was sent to the federal prison
Chillicothe Correctional Institution
Chillicothe Correction Institution, or CCI, is a state run medium security prison on the west bank of the Scioto River in Chillicothe, Ohio. It is located adjacent to Ross Correctional Institution and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. The prison is a former military camp, named for Civil...

 in Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe is a city in and the county seat of Ross County, Ohio, United States.Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio and is located in southern Ohio along the Scioto River. The name comes from the Shawnee name Chalahgawtha, meaning "principal town", as it was a major settlement of...

. He served 11 months of a two-year sentence.

Johnson returned to the NASCAR scene in 1958 and picked up where he left off, winning six races. In 1959, he won five more NASCAR Grand National races; by this time he was regarded as one of the best short-track racers in the sport.

His first win at a "superspeedway" came at the Daytona 500
Daytona 500
The Daytona 500 is a -long NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is one of four restrictor plate races on the Cup schedule....

 in 1960. Johnson and his crew chief
Pit stop
In motorsports, a pit stop is where a racing vehicle stops in the pits during a race for refuelling, new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change, or any combination of the above...

 Ray Fox
Ray Fox
Raymond Lee Fox, Sr. is a retired American engine builder, NASCAR car owner and NASCAR engine inspector. His cars won fourteen NASCAR Grand National events and sixteen pole positions....

 were practicing for the race, trying to figure out how to increase their speed, which was 22 miles per hour slower than the top cars in the race. During a test run a faster car passed Johnson. He noticed that when he moved behind the faster car his own speed increased due to the faster car's slipstream
Slipstream
A slipstream is a region behind a moving object in which a wake of fluid is moving at velocities comparable to the moving object . The term slipstream also applies to the similar region adjacent to an object with a fluid moving around it...

. Johnson was then able to stay close behind the faster car until the final lap of the test run, when he used the "slipstream" effect to slingshot past the other car. By using this technique Johnson went on to win the 1960 Daytona 500, despite the fact that his car was slower than others in the field. Johnson's technique was quickly adopted by other drivers, and his practice of "drafting" has become a common tactic in NASCAR races.

In 1963 he had a two-lap lead in the World 600 at Charlotte
Lowe's Motor Speedway
Charlotte Motor Speedway is a motorsports complex located in Concord, North Carolina, United States 13 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina. The complex features a quad oval track that hosts NASCAR racing including the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend and the Sprint All-Star Race...

 before a spectator threw a bottle onto the track and caused Junior to crash; he suffered only minor injuries.

He retired in 1966. In his career, he claimed 50 victories as a driver, and 11 of these wins were at major speedway races. He retired as the winningest driver never to have a championship.

Johnson was a master of dirt track racing
Dirt track racing
Dirt track racing is a type of auto racing performed on oval tracks. It began in the United States before World War I and became widespread during the 1920s and 30s. Two different types of racecars predominated—open wheel racers in the Northeast and West and stock cars in the South...

. "The two best drivers I've ever competed against on dirt are Junior Johnson and Dick Hutcherson
Dick Hutcherson
Dick Hutcherson was an American businessman and a former stock car racer. A native of Keokuk, Iowa, Hutcherson drove in NASCAR competition from 1964 to 1967. In 1965 he finished second in the overall NASCAR Drivers Championship and had nine wins...

," said two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett
Ned Jarrett
Ned Jarrett is a retired race car driver and two-time NASCAR champion.Jarrett was best known for his calm demeanor, and he became known as "Gentleman Ned Jarrett", yet he was an intense competitor when he put his two hands on the steering wheel of a NASCAR Grand National stock car...

.

Career statistics as driver

Year Races Wins Poles Top 5s Top 10s Rank Start Finish
1953 1 0 0 79 89 26.0 38.0
1954 4 0 1 1 1 55 1.0 26.0
1955 36 5 2 12 18 6 7.4 12.2
1956 13 0 1 1 1 37 10.8 21.1
1957 1 0 0 0 0 154 11.0 20.0
1958 27 6 0 12 16 8 8.7 12.0
1959 28 5 1 14 15 11 13.1 10.9
1960 34 3 3 14 18 7 9.6 14.2
1961 41 7 10 16 22 6 6.8 12.1
1962 23 1 2 7 8 20 6.1 17.6
1963 33 7 9 13 14 12 4.2 14.4
1964 29 3 5 12 15 14 5.3 12.1
1965 36 13 9 18 19 12 3.3 11.4
1966 7 0 3 1 1 49 5.7 16.0
Totals 313 50 46 121 148 7.2 13.5

As a NASCAR owner


As a team owner, he worked with some of the legendary drivers in NASCAR history, including Darel Dieringer
Darel Dieringer
Darel Dieringer was a NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series driver.-Summary:...

, LeeRoy Yarbrough
LeeRoy Yarbrough
Lonnie "LeeRoy" Yarbrough was a NASCAR racer. His best season was 1969 when he won seven races, tallied 21 finishes in the top-ten and earned $193,211...

, Cale Yarborough
Cale Yarborough
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough , is a farmer, businessman and former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and owner. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships...

, Bobby Allison
Bobby Allison
Robert Arthur Allison is a former NASCAR Winston Cup driver and was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers. His two sons, Clifford Allison and Davey Allison followed him into racing, and both died within a year of each other....

, Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Lee Waltrip is a 3-time NASCAR Cup Series champion , 3-time runner-up , winner of the 1989 Daytona 500 and 5-time winner of the prestigeous Coca-Cola 600 ,...

, Neil Bonnett
Neil Bonnett
Lawrence Neil Bonnett was a NASCAR driver who compiled 18 victories and 20 poles over his 18-year career. The Alabama native currently ranks 35th in all-time NASCAR Cup victories. He appeared in the 1983 film Stroker Ace and the 1990 film Days of Thunder...

, Terry Labonte
Terry Labonte
Terrance Lee Labonte is a semi-retired NASCAR driver who occasionally drives in the Sprint Cup Series when called upon and is a two-time Winston Cup and IROC champion. He currently drives the #32 U.S. Chrome Ford for FAS Lane Racing. Labonte was introduced to the sport through his father, who had...

, Geoffrey Bodine
Geoff Bodine
Geoffrey Eli Bodine is an American motorsport driver and bobsled builder. He is the oldest of the three Bodine brothers . Bodine currently lives in Cornelius, North Carolina....

, Sterling Marlin
Sterling Marlin
Sterling Marlin is a retired NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. He is the son of late NASCAR driver Coo Coo Marlin. He is married to Paula and has a daughter, Sutherlin, and a son, Steadman, who sometimes races in the Nationwide Series....

, Jimmy Spencer
Jimmy Spencer
Jimmy Spencer is a current television commentator, and a former NASCAR driver. He formerly hosted the NASCAR inspired talk show, “What’s the Deal?”, on SPEED. He is the former co-host, with John Roberts and Kenny Wallace, of the SPEED's pre-race and post-race NASCAR shows NASCAR RaceDay and...

, and Bill Elliott
Bill Elliott
William Clyde "Bill" Elliott , also known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville or Million Dollar Bill, is a part-time driver and former champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Elliott was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on August 15, 2007. He won the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup...

. In all, his drivers won 139 races, which is third only to Petty Enterprises
Petty Enterprises
Petty Enterprises was a NASCAR racing team based in Randleman, North Carolina, USA. The team was owned by Richard Petty, his son Kyle Petty, and Boston Ventures. At the time of its folding the team operated the #43 and #45 Dodge Chargers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Petty Enterprises ran from...

 and Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports , originally named All Star Racing, is a current American auto racing team created in 1984 by Rick Hendrick. The team currently competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Chevrolet Impalas...

. His drivers won six Winston Cup Championships—three with Yarborough (1976–1978) and Waltrip (1981–82, 1985).

Career statistics as owner

Year Driver Races Wins Poles Top 5s Top 10s Rank Start Finish
1953 Junior Johnson 1 0 0 0 0 26.0 38.0
1965 Bobby Isaac
Bobby Isaac
Bobby Isaac is a former NASCAR Grand National champion.-Early life:Isaac grew up on a farm near Catawba, North Carolina, the second youngest of nine children...

1 0 1 1 1 75 1.0 2.0
1965 Junior Johnson 36 13 9 18 19 12 3.3 11.4
1965 Curtis Turner
Curtis Turner
Curtis Turner was an early NASCAR driver. In addition to his success in racing, he made a fortune, lost it, and remade it buying and selling timberlands. Throughout his life he developed a reputation for drinking and partying...

2 0 0 0 0 39 3.0 29.0
1966 Darel Dieringer
Darel Dieringer
Darel Dieringer was a NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series driver.-Summary:...

2 0 0 1 1 12 16.0 7.5
1966 A. J. Foyt
A. J. Foyt
Anthony Joseph Foyt, Jr., or as he is universally known as in motorsports circles, A. J. Foyt , is a retired American automobile racing driver. He raced in numerous genres of motorsports. His open wheel racing includes USAC Champ cars and midget cars. He raced stock cars in NASCAR and USAC. He won...

3 0 0 0 0 14.7 25.0
1966 Bobby Isaac 8 0 0 2 3 53 8.9 18.9
1966 Gordon Johncock
Gordon Johncock
Gordon Johncock is a former racing driver, best known as a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and the 1976 USAC Marlboro Championship Trail champion. Johncock was most often simply referred to as "Gordy."...

2 0 0 1 1 2.5 15.5
1966 Junior Johnson 7 0 3 1 1 49 5.7 16.0
1966 Fred Lorenzen
Fred Lorenzen
Fred Lorenzen , nicknamed The Golden Boy, Fast Freddie, The Elmhurst Express and Flyin Freddy, is a former NASCAR driver active between 1958 and 1972. He won the 1965 Daytona 500. Lorenzen was born in Elmurst, Illinois.-Early career:Lorenzen first caught the car bug young, and had built his first...

1 0 0 0 0 23 3.0 23.0
1966 Curtis Turner 3 0 0 1 1 24 6.0 11.3
1967 Darel Dieringer 16 1 6 8 9 12 4.1 13.5
1967 Lloyd Ruby
Lloyd Ruby
Lloyd Ruby was an American racecar driver.Ruby raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1958-1977 seasons, with 177 career starts, including every Indianapolis 500 race during 1960-1977. He finished in the top ten 88 times, with 7 victories. His best Indy finish was 3rd in 1964...

1 0 0 0 0 8.0 22.0
1967 LeeRoy Yarbrough
LeeRoy Yarbrough
Lonnie "LeeRoy" Yarbrough was a NASCAR racer. His best season was 1969 when he won seven races, tallied 21 finishes in the top-ten and earned $193,211...

3 0 0 1 1 37 4.0 14.7
1968 LeeRoy Yarbrough 20 2 6 13 13 16 4.0 12.0
1969 LeeRoy Yarbrough 28 7 0 15 20 16 5.4 8.8
1970 Donnie Allison
Donnie Allison
Dunkiny "Donnie" Allison is a former driver on the NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup circuit, who won ten times during his racing career, which spanned the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. He was part of the "Alabama Gang," and is the brother of 1983 champion Bobby Allison and uncle of Davey Allison...

1 0 0 1 1 40 2.0 3.0
1970 Fred Lorenzen 1 0 0 0 0 54 9.0 33.0
1970 David Pearson 1 0 0 1 1 23 7.0 4.0
1970 LeeRoy Yarbrough 17 1 1 8 11 43 6.4 12.2
1971 Charlie Glotzbach 20 1 4 7 10 42 12.5 12.5
1972 Bobby Allison 31 10 11 25 27 2 12.5 12.5
1974 Earl Ross
Earl Ross
Earl Ross is a Canadian race car driver who competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series from 1973 to 1976 driving the Carling Red Cap #52...

15 1 0 3 8 8 9.3 11.1
1974 Cale Yarborough
Cale Yarborough
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough , is a farmer, businessman and former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and owner. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships...

15 4 1 10 10 2 4.5 7.9
1975 Cale Yarborough 27 3 3 13 13 9 6.5 14.8
1976 Cale Yarborough 30 9 2 22 23 1 5.1 8.2
1977 Cale Yarborough 30 9 3 25 27 1 4.0 4.5
1978 Cale Yarborough 30 10 8 23 24 1 3.6 6.0
1979 Cale Yarborough 31 4 1 19 22 4 5.3 8.6
1980 Cale Yarborough 31 6 14 19 22 2 3.1 9.0
1981 Richard Childress
Richard Childress
Richard Childress is a former NASCAR driver and the current team owner of Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. As a business entrepreneur, Childress became one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina...

1 0 0 0 0 25 31.0 39.0
1981 Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Waltrip
Darrell Lee Waltrip is a 3-time NASCAR Cup Series champion , 3-time runner-up , winner of the 1989 Daytona 500 and 5-time winner of the prestigeous Coca-Cola 600 ,...

31 12 11 21 25 1 5.3 7.2
1982 J. D. McDuffie 2 0 0 0 0 19 20.5 20.0
1982 Bill Schmitt 1 0 0 0 0 64 22.0 21.0
1982 Darrell Waltrip 30 12 7 17 20 1 3.8 9.1
1983 Darrell Waltrip 30 6 7 22 25 2 7.1 7.7
1984 Neil Bonnett
Neil Bonnett
Lawrence Neil Bonnett was a NASCAR driver who compiled 18 victories and 20 poles over his 18-year career. The Alabama native currently ranks 35th in all-time NASCAR Cup victories. He appeared in the 1983 film Stroker Ace and the 1990 film Days of Thunder...

30 0 0 7 14 8 9.3 13.7
1984 Darrell Waltrip 30 7 4 13 20 5 5.9 11.2
1985 Neil Bonnett 28 2 1 11 18 4 10.5 10.6
1985 Darrell Waltrip 28 3 4 18 21 1 8.2 7.3
1986 Davey Allison
Davey Allison
David Carl "Davey" Allison was a NASCAR driver. He was best known for driving the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford for Robert Yates Racing in the Winston Cup Series. Born in Hollywood, Florida, he was the eldest of four children born to Bobby Allison and wife Judy...

1 0 0 0 1 47 7.0 7.0
1986 Neil Bonnett 28 1 0 6 12 13 12.3 16.1
1986 Darrell Waltrip 29 3 1 21 22 2 8.6 10.0
1987 Terry Labonte
Terry Labonte
Terrance Lee Labonte is a semi-retired NASCAR driver who occasionally drives in the Sprint Cup Series when called upon and is a two-time Winston Cup and IROC champion. He currently drives the #32 U.S. Chrome Ford for FAS Lane Racing. Labonte was introduced to the sport through his father, who had...

29 1 4 13 22 3 7.1 11.1
1988 Terry Labonte 29 1 1 11 18 4 12.8 10.8
1989 Terry Labonte 29 2 0 9 11 10 13.2 15.1
1990 Geoffrey Bodine 29 3 2 11 19 3 8.1 11.4
1991 Geoffrey Bodine 27 1 2 6 12 14 10.4 15.7
1991 Tommy Ellis
Tommy Ellis
Tommy Ellis was a NASCAR short track ace of the 1970s and 1980s. Often referred to as "Terrible" Tommy Ellis for his rough tactics, he won the National Late Model Sportsman championship in 1981 and was one of six drivers enrolled in the Winner's Circle plan at the formation of the Busch Series in...

2 0 0 0 0 70 30.0 18.5
1991 Sterling Marlin
Sterling Marlin
Sterling Marlin is a retired NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. He is the son of late NASCAR driver Coo Coo Marlin. He is married to Paula and has a daughter, Sutherlin, and a son, Steadman, who sometimes races in the Nationwide Series....

29 0 2 7 16 7 14.3 11.8
1992 Bill Elliott 29 5 2 14 17 2 9.7 10.9
1992 Sterling Marlin 29 0 5 6 13 10 13.0 14.4
1992 Hut Stricklin
Hut Stricklin
Waymond Lane "Hut" Stricklin is a former NASCAR race car driver. He was born on June 24, 1961, in Calera, Alabama. He married Pam Allison, the daughter of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison after they were introduced by her cousin Davey. Hut was the last member of the Alabama Gang.In 1986, Stricklin won...

1 0 0 0 0 27 27.0 31.0
1993 Bill Elliott 30 0 2 6 15 8 12.9 13.5
1993 Hut Stricklin 30 0 0 1 2 24 21.0 22.8
1994 Bill Elliott 31 1 1 6 12 10 15.7 16.8
1994 Jeff Green 1 0 0 0 0 51 31.0 18.0
1994 Tommy Kendall
Tommy Kendall
Tommy Kendall is an American race car driver and television broadcaster. He is best known for his SCCA Trans-Am Series career....

1 0 0 0 0 63 27.0 22.0
1994 Jimmy Spencer
Jimmy Spencer
Jimmy Spencer is a current television commentator, and a former NASCAR driver. He formerly hosted the NASCAR inspired talk show, “What’s the Deal?”, on SPEED. He is the former co-host, with John Roberts and Kenny Wallace, of the SPEED's pre-race and post-race NASCAR shows NASCAR RaceDay and...

29 2 1 3 4 29 21.5 25.1
1995 Loy Allen, Jr. 5 0 0 0 1 41 31.8 20.4
1995 Brett Bodine
Brett Bodine
Brett Bodine is a former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and is the current driver of the pace car in Sprint Cup events. Brett is the younger brother of 1986 Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine and the older brother of 2006 Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine...

31 0 0 0 2 20 21.2 22.3
1995 Jimmy Horton
Jimmy Horton
Jimmy Horton is a racecar driver from Folsom, New Jersey. He raced in 48 NASCAR Winston Cup races in eight seasons. He was a regular on the ARCA circuit in the 1980s and 1990s...

1 0 0 0 0 61 30.0 34.0
1995 Greg Sacks
Greg Sacks
Greg Sacks is a NASCAR driver. He is married to his wife Vicky and lives in Ormond Beach, Florida. Together they had three children: Paul, Brian, and Rachel. He and his sons are partners in Grand Touring Vodka.Sacks has spent most of his career as a Research & Development driver for many NASCAR...

1 0 0 0 0 39 20.0 17.0
1995 Elton Sawyer
Elton Sawyer
Elton Sawyer , is a long-time NASCAR driver. He is married to former NASCAR driver Patty Moise. Recently, Sawyer has been a driver coach for the Red Bull Racing Team.-Beginnings:...

20 0 0 0 0 38 28.3 29.4
Totals 1049 132 115 436 577 9.8 12.8


In 2011, Johnson announced that he would restart a race team with son Robert as driver. Junior Johnson Racing will be located in Hamptonville, North Carolina. Robert, the 2010 UARA Rookie of the Year, plans to run a 28-30 race schedule in 2011, which includes the entire K&N East Series schedule and some races in the UARA and Whelen All-American Series.

Awards

  • He was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers
    NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers
    NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers is a list of NASCAR drivers.In 1998, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, NASCAR gathered a panel to select "The 50 Greatest NASCAR Drivers of All Time." It was inspired in part by the NBA's decision to select the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History on its 50th...

     in 1998.
  • He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
    Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
    The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a Hall of Fame and museum for American motorsports legends. It was originally located in Novi, Michigan and it moved to the Detroit Science Center in 2009.-Museum:...

     in 1991.
  • Johnson joined N.C. greats Michael Jordan
    Michael Jordan
    Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a former American professional basketball player, active entrepreneur, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats...

    , Dale Earnhardt
    Dale Earnhardt
    Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was an American race car driver, best known for his involvement in stock car racing for NASCAR...

     and Richard Petty
    Richard Petty
    Richard Lee Petty is a former NASCAR driver who raced in the Strictly Stock/Grand National Era and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series...

     by having a stretch of highway named in his honor in 2004. An 8.5. mi stretch of U.S. Highway 421 from the Yadkin
    Yadkin County, North Carolina
    - Cities and towns :*Boonville*East Bend*Jonesville*Yadkinville-Towns of the past:These towns were incorporated at one time:*Arlington, merged with Jonesville in 2001.*Hamptonville, chartered in 1818.*Huntsville, incorporated in 1792....

     and Wilkes
    Wilkes County, North Carolina
    Wilkes County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The 2000 U.S. Census listed the county's population at 65,632; the 2010 U.S. Census listed the population at 69,340...

     county line to the Windy Gap exit is named "Junior Johnson Highway."
  • He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame
    NASCAR Hall of Fame
    The NASCAR Hall of Fame honors drivers who have shown exceptional skill at NASCAR driving, all-time great crew chiefs and owners, and other major contributors to competition within the sanctioning body. NASCAR committed itself to building a Hall of Fame and on March 6, 2006, the city of Charlotte,...

     on May 23, 2010.

Family


His first marriage ended in divorce in 1992. His marriage to current wife Lisa in 1994 has resulted in two children, daughter Meredith Suzanne, and son Robert Glenn Johnson III. He lives on a 278 acres (1.1 km²) estate in the Hamptonville
Hamptonville, North Carolina
Hamptonville is an unincorporated community located in southwestern Yadkin County, North Carolina, United States. Hamptonville is named for Henry Hampton , a colonel in the Revolutionary Army. Hampton set aside land for a town in 1806....

 area of Yadkin County
Yadkin County, North Carolina
- Cities and towns :*Boonville*East Bend*Jonesville*Yadkinville-Towns of the past:These towns were incorporated at one time:*Arlington, merged with Jonesville in 2001.*Hamptonville, chartered in 1818.*Huntsville, incorporated in 1792....

. Robert is also a professional racing driver.

Junior Johnson is referenced in the Bruce Springsteen song Cadillac Ranch.

Film



In mid the 1960's writer Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

 researched and wrote an article about Johnson, published March 1965 in Esquire, and reprinted in Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby (1965) (in turn reprinted in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century, ed. David Halberstam [1999]). The article, originally entitled "Great Balls of Fire", turned Johnson into a national celebrity and led to fame beyond the circle of NASCAR fans. In turn, the article was made into a 1973 movie based on Johnson's career as a driver and moonshiner. The movie was entitled The Last American Hero
The Last American Hero
The Last American Hero is a 1973 sports drama film based on the true story of American NASCAR driver Junior Johnson...

(a.k.a. Hard Driver). Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges
Jeffrey Leon "Jeff" Bridges is an American actor and musician. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Otis "Bad" Blake in the 2009 film Crazy Heart....

 starred as the somewhat fictionalized version of Johnson, and Johnson himself served as technical advisor for the film. The movie was critically acclaimed and featured the Jim Croce
Jim Croce
James Joseph "Jim" Croce January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973 was an American singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and 11 singles...

 hit song, "I Got A Name."

Follow Your Dreams Productions' President and CEO, Fred Griffith
Fred Griffith (actor)
Fred Griffith is an Americanactor and producer.-Filmography:*2010 Renovation - Justin*2009 Shadowheart - Marshall*2009 The Book of Ruth: Journey of Faith - Mahlon...

, has signed a rights deal for a true life story movie about Junior Johnson.(Sports Illustrated Vault, 2006) Unlike "The Last American Hero" which was about a fictionalized character name Junior "Jackson". Griffith, an American actor and producer from South Carolina, is currently adapting a screenplay based largely on the book, "Junior Johnson, Brave In Life," written by Tom Higgins and Steve Waid.(Big West Racing, 2006) Veteran actor and producer Chris Mulkey
Chris Mulkey
Chris Mulkey is an American actor who most recently appeared in Against the Wall, Cloverfield, the NBC TV movie Knight Rider, and as a corporate executive in season 7 of 24...

 is a writing producer for the film. According to Griffith this film will remain true to the real life of Junior Johnson.(Morris 2006, p. C-1)

Reference

  • sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/web/COM1049381/index.htm.
  • bigwestracing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9922.
  • jayski.com/pages/media-movies.htm.
  • Spartanburg Herald Journal (USA) pg. C1, "Big Drive For Golf, NASCAR".

Presidential pardon


On December 26, 1986, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 granted Johnson, a lifelong Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, a presidential pardon for his 1956 moonshining conviction. Johnson called the pardon, which restored his right to vote and hold a passport, "one of the greatest things in my life."

Midnight Moon


In May 2007, Piedmont Distillers in Madison, N.C. and Junior Johnson teamed up to introduce the company's second moonshine product, called Midnight Moon. Johnson became part owner of Piedmont Distillers, the only legal distiller in North Carolina. Midnight Moon and the company's other product, Catdaddy, are available in 37 states. Midnight Moon follows the Johnson family’s generations-old tradition of making moonshine. Every batch is born in an authentic, copper still and is handcrafted, in very small batches. The 'shine is a 75-proof, legal version of his famous family recipe. Junior describes his moonshine as "Smoother than vodka. Better than whiskey. Best shine ever."

Obama endorsement


Johnson endorsed Senator Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 for the 2008 presidential race
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

. In an email sent to the public on October 27, 2008, Johnson wrote, "...the most important reasons I'm speaking out for Barack Obama are named Robert and Meredith, my two children. My wife Lisa and I talked it over, and honestly, we know in our gut that their future is more secure if Barack Obama is president. At the end of the day, there's just nothing more important than that."

Johnson also spoke out about what he described as a lack of "integrity" in the McCain campaign
John McCain presidential campaign, 2008
John McCain, the senior United States Senator from Arizona, launched his second candidacy for the presidency of the United States in an unsuccessful bid to win the 2008 presidential election. His candidacy, in the works for a number of years, was informally announced on February 28, 2007 during a...

. "I know what it means to run an aggressive race, but I also know what it means to compete with integrity," Johnson wrote. "Have you gotten one of these pre-recorded calls that are flooding our state smearing Barack Obama's character and questioning his patriotism? That's crossing the line, and North Carolinians deserve better."

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