Friday, the NASCAR World was shocked and saddened to hear the news that the ‘Last American Hero’ Junior Johnson had passed away at the age of 88.
NASCAR’S Chairman and CEO Jim France sent out a statement on Friday:
“Junior Johnson truly was the ‘Last American Hero.’ From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit. He was an inaugural NASCAR Hall of Famer, a nod to an extraordinary career as both a driver and team owner. Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has. The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true giant of our sport, and we offer our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Legendary is a fitting word for Johnson, but it doesn’t even begin to truly describe his illustrious career as a NASCAR Cup Series driver and it certainly doesn’t even come close to recognizing his greatness as a car owner.
Johnson won 50 races as a NASCAR Cup Series driver over just 313 starts. When his driving career was finished, Johnson went on to win 132 races as a car owner over a 30-year span.
Although, Johnson never won a championship as a driver, he won six Cup Series titles as an owner. Three of Johnson’s titles were won consecutively from 1976 to 1978 by Cale Yarborough. Darrell Waltrip collected the other three championships in 1981, 1982 and 1985.
Johnson was inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.