Robert Glen Johnson, Jr., better know as Junior Johnson nearly walked away from the biggest victory of his legendary racing career. Junior’s win in the 1960 Daytona 500 was momentous, but it was Johnson’s discovery in practice that would shape the face of superspeedway competition in NASCAR forever.
Johnson was saddled with an all too slow Chevy, one that was entered by the late local dog track owner, John Masoni. It was hastily assembled by car builder Ray Fox. Johnson realized early that he had no chance of beating the faster fleet of Pontiacs.
Junior also realized that if he could just “suck up on their tail”, they couldn’t shake him off. During the race Johnson would tuck in behind the Pontiacs of Cotton Owen and Jack Smith. Johnson said,”They couldn’t shake me. I realized then it was something about the air stream creating a slipstream in which a slower car could keep up with a faster one.”
The idea of “drafting” was born!
Junior Johnson won 50 races as a driver and another 132 as a car owner. He also won 6 championships as a car owner, 3 while Cale Yarborough drove for him and 3 championships with Darrell Waltrip as his driver.
To say that Junior Johnson was an innovator would be vastly understated! He was race car genius, pure and simple!
He was nicknamed “The Last American Hero”. That is the title of the movie that was made from his autobiography of the same name.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!