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Dick Johnson (racing driver)

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Dick Johnson

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Racing driver



26 April 1945 (age 79) (

Bryan Byrt RacingDick Johnson Racing

Dean fiore talks about his joint venture with dick johnson racing

Richard Johnson (born 26 April 1945) is a part-owner of the V8 Supercar team DJR Team Penske and a former racing driver. As a driver, he was a five-time Australian Touring Car Champion and a three-time winner of the Bathurst 1000. As of 2008 Johnson has claimed over twenty awards and honours, including the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame into which he was inducted in 2001.


In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, Dick Johnson was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for his role as a "sports legend".

Dick johnson drives peter brocks a9x torana around bathurst

Early life

As a teen Johnson attended Cavendish Road State High School in Brisbane, Australia and it was in this area of Coorparoo that he first started driving with his father as a young child. Cavendish Road State High School has named one of their school houses Johnson, in his honour. The house colour is blue.

After leaving school, Johnson was drafted into the Australian Army at the age of 20 and began his two-year National Service in 1965. Although they did not know each other at the time, both Johnson and future touring car rival Peter Brock were stationed together at the Blamey Barracks near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales from 1965-1967.


Despite becoming synonymous with driving Fords, Johnson raced in his early days in a succession of Holdens. Johnson's first race car was a Holden FJ, his first race being at Lakeside International Raceway in November 1964 in 1968 and 1969 he raced his Holden EH and from there progressed to a Holden Torana GTR for 1970, scoring his first Australian Touring Car Championship points at Lakeside in that year. The GTR was upgraded to XU-1 specifications in 1971. Johnson's first drive in the Hardie Ferodo 1000 was in Bob Forbes' Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1 in 1973 when they placed fifth. Johnson then had a single race for the Holden Dealer Team at the Surfers Paradise round of the 1974 ATCC where he finished 3rd driving a GTR XU-1. He later purchased the Torana from HDT boss Harry Firth and campaigned the car until his switch to Ford in 1976.

In 1980, during the Bathurst 1000 he started 2nd and led for the first 17 laps before his car was spun off the track after hitting a football sized rock that had been accidentally kicked onto the track by some drunken Holden fans. The resulting public support where people from around Australia rang their local Channel 7 television station (the race broadcaster) and pledged money to help the team get back on its feet. Eventually the sum of A$72,000 was donated to help rebuild the car. Led by its CEO Edsel Ford II who saw the value of the goodwill in the press surrounding Johnson's crash, the Ford Motor Company of Australia provided a new car shell and promised to match the donation dollar for dollar, resulting in the team receiving $144,000 to help get back into racing.

Johnson's close friend Ross Palmer, the owner of Palmer Tube Mills of Brisbane, became his primary sponsor in 1981 (with Bryan Byrt Ford also still a major sponsor), and with the donated money allowed him to return the next year to win both the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) and the Bathurst 1000 (with John French). He won the ATCC again in 1982 (the Tru Blu XD Falcon), 1984 (Greens Tuff XE Falcon), 1988 (Ford Sierra RS500) and 1989 (Sierra RS500). He also won Bathurst in 1989 (in a Ford Sierra with John Bowe) and 1994 (in an EB Falcon, also with Bowe). The names Tru Blu, and Greens Tuff, as well as Red Roo (seen in late 1982 only) were product names of Palmer Tube Mills.

With much larger budgets required in the racing industry, Ross Palmer helped negotiate for Shell to be the teams primary sponsor from 1987. The larger budget allowed the team to expand from just one car for Dick, to a second Ford Sierra RS Cosworth for his then team mate Gregg Hansford.


In 1989 and 1990, prompted by Palmer Tube Mills who assisted him in receiving multiple sources of sponsorship and through the company's American offshoot Redkote, Johnson made a brief foray into the NASCAR Cup Series driving a Ford Thunderbird, entering a total of seven races with a best start of 11th at Sears Point Raceway in his first race, and a best finish of 22nd at Pocono Raceway. Johnson also drove a Thunderbird in the first NASCAR race held in Australia, the 1988 Goodyear NASCAR 500 at the Calder Park Thunderdome in Melbourne. Unfortunately for Johnson he was involved in an early race crash which put him out of the event.


Dick Johnson retired from racing at the end of the 1999 season, though he remains in charge of DJR. His son Steven took over driving Johnson's famous Number 17 for over a decade. Johnson has twice written his autobiography as well as contributing to a third biography.

In 2014, DJR announced that 51% of the team was sold to legendary team owner Roger Penske establishing DJR-Team Penske, which fields two cars in V8 Supercar racing.


Johnson's laconic nature and quick wit was put to good use by longtime Bathurst 1000 TV broadcaster Channel 7 when they first put one of their racecam units in his Tru-Blu Ford Falcon for the 1982 James Hardie 1000. Johnson and co-driver John French were also wired for sound so the commentary team could talk to the drivers while racing around the track. From then on Johnson's cars were rarely without a TV camera sitting where the passenger seat usually was, especially when Seven was televising the race. His laconic commentary and seemingly endless list of one-liners quickly became a favourite with Australian race fans, even those who normally followed Holden drivers such as Peter Brock and Allan Grice, both of whom also became exponents of using racecam.

Some of Johnson's quotes while on racecam were:

  • "I've got one black BMW in front of me, one behind me. Frank Gardner and his All Blacks" – 1985 ATCC, Round 5 at the Adelaide International Raceway while he was sandwiched between the black JPS Team BMW's of New Zealanders Jim Richards and Neville Crichton. Gardner was the JPS team manager.
  • "The old Volvo must have its truck suspension in" – 1986 ATCC, Round 4 at Adelaide International. Ironically Robbie Francevic's Volvo emerged as the race winner.
  • "This race is like the Irishman who won the Tour de France I tell ya. He had to go on a lap of honour" – 1986 James Hardie 1000
  • "This is where I lose so much time. I mean, this part of the track is just so boring" – 1986 Bathurst referring to his V8 Ford Mustang's lack of grunt compared to his competitors on the run up Mountain Straight.
  • "It's missing and carrying on like an old sheila" – 1988 ATCC, Grand Finale at Oran Park Raceway after turbo boost problems with his championship winning Ford Sierra RS500 saw him relinquish the lead mid-race to team mate John Bowe. With the opposition nowhere in sight, Bowe later slowed enough to allow Dick to win the race and followed him across the line in a 1–2 form finish.
  • "Winton? Its like running a marathon around your clothesline" – 1990 ATCC, Round 4 at Winton after Channel 7 commentator Mike Raymond asked him what the definition of Winton was.
  • "Then Brock got past me would you believe, unfortunately, and that thing of his like, I nearly choked to death on Mobil 1. It looks like the last train to Ferny Grove" – 1990 ATCC, Grand Finale at Oran Park after problems with the Sierra saw him drop out of race winning and championship contention. He was referring to the Peter Brock Sierra's habit of belching black oil smoke out of its exhaust whenever he lifted off the accelerator.
  • "The Sierra on one cylinder has got as much grunt as the Commodore" – 1991 ATCC, Round 5 at Winton after his misfiring Sierra had been passed by the V8 Holden Commodore of Larry Perkins.
  • "You've got to be joking" – 1995 ATCC, Round 3 at Bathurst. Channel 7 had just crossed to Johnson with Mike Raymond asking "Are you lonely?". Johnson's quote came immediately after as he spun his Ford EF Falcon into Caltex Chase, seemingly distracted by Raymond's interruption. However, as the TV camera's soon picked up, the rear wing of the Falcon had collapsed at over 280 km/h (174 mph) as he was turning into the fastest corner on any Australian race circuit, at the same moment that Seven crossed to talk to him.
  • Complete World Touring Car Championship results

    (key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

    † Not registered for series & points

    Complete World Sportscar Championship results

    (key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

    Complete European Touring Car Championship results

    (key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

    Complete Asia-Pacific Touring Car Championship results

    (key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)


    (key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)


    Dick Johnson (racing driver) Wikipedia

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