Center Stage: Warren Johnson

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Come on. You all know this series could only be launched on the coattails of Warren Johnson and his well-blazed path. The Minnesota native is one of the most well-known and decorated drag racers of all time, and his brazen “take no bull,” sugar coat zilch,” “tell it like it is (even when it stings)” attitude has been both a breath of fresh air and wildly intimidating since day one. His attitude isn’t what’s in the history books, though.

Johnson – now 75 years old, if calculations are correct – stands as a legend in Pro Stock, and that is why he gets the win light as our first Center Stage feature.

No. 7 on NHRA’s 50 Greatest Drivers list, “The Professor” came into drag racing with an engineer’s education. His first NHRA Pro Stock car was a brand spankin’ new Camaro that he purchased in 1971, prepared for racing, and debuted at the U.S. Nationals, and he nearly wore the car out, racing it as much as possible as he cemented the foundation for a fruitful, lifelong career both on and off the racetrack.

Johnson has been inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the NHRA Division 2 Hall of Fame, the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing Hall of Fame, and as one of the Legends of Bristol Dragway. He is the third winningest NHRA driver of all time and most winning to date in Pro Stock with 97 national event victories, has a total of eight championships (six NHRA, two IHRA), and blasted to the first 200 mph run in NHRA competition with a 200.13 mph pass made in Richmond, Va., in 1997.

Age just doesn’t seem to be a factor for Johnson, because the seemingly tireless man is still building engines out of his Sugar Hill, Ga., race shop. Every once in a while, if you’re real lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of him at a racetrack.

You are truly a legend, WJ. Thanks for all you’ve done for Pro Stock and the sport of drag racing.

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