This story originally ran on April 8, 2016
From the very start, racing has been a family affair for NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson. The 2012 world champ drives the Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart GT out of the J&J Racing camp, and yes, the J&J stands for Johnson and Johnson – as in Allen and his dad, Roy. The fiercely loyal Mopar campaigners have been faithful participants in the class for more than two decades, but their involvement in motorsports goes back much further.
Roy began Sportsman racing in 1962, made his mark earning Super Stock championships, and in the 1970s and ’80s received factory backing from Mopar.
“I grew up in a racing family,” said the younger Johnson, who completed his 460th national event last weekend at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I played in the red clay mud behind the old drag strips down in Tennessee for my whole childhood, watching Dad race. I didn’t really want anything to do with it at that time – I was playing sports – but I always went and hung out. When I graduated high school, I got involved for three or four years racing Sportsman (Super Stock), then I had kids, started a business, and got out of it for awhile. But I always knew he wanted to race Pro Stock and just never did have the funding.”
Eventually, though, that turned around.
“I got lucky in business, and after we’d been out of it for about 15 years, I went to him and said, ‘Hey, you still want to do that? I think I can get us started,’ ” said Johnson. “Of course he said, ‘Oh, you don’t need to do that, it’s too much money.’ But long story short, it happened. That was 1996, and gosh, this is our 21st year.”
Engine builder Roy, who devotes countless hours to the engine shop back home in Greeneville, Tenn., has been a fixture at the racetrack with his son since the beginning. His wife, Revonda, as well as Johnson’s wife, Pam, attend almost every race as well. Together, J&J Racing has amassed 26 wins in 56 final rounds, and in addition to earning the Pro Stock season title in 2012, Johnson has finished in the top 10 in all but seven seasons.
In 2010, Roy returned to his roots in a Mopar Challenger Drag Pak in the Stock Eliminator category at Bristol Dragway. Despite being out of the seat for 30 years, he got comfy real quick and qualified No. 1 on the way to a semifinals finish, but between rounds, of course, he was still zeroed in on the performance of his son’s factory hot rod.
“I don’t know if I’d be out here if he wasn’t involved,” said Johnson. “Probably not, and I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten started. I might be doing something in racing – I’ve raced motorcycles, go karts, and round track and dirt track. But I probably wouldn’t be doing something of this magnitude if it hadn’t been my dad’s dream.”