STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

NASCAR legend Junior Johnson dies at 88

Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson, one of NASCAR's earliest star drivers and a legendary figure in the auto racing garage, has died at age 88, according to NASCAR.

Posted: Dec 21, 2019 5:04 AM


Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson, one of NASCAR's earliest star drivers and a legendary figure in the auto racing garage, has died at age 88, according to a tweet from NASCAR.

Johnson won 50 races as a driver, including the 1960 Daytona 500, and six top-level championships as an owner.

"From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit," NASCAR Chairman Jim France said. "... Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has."

Johnson was a member of the first class inducted into the racing body's hall of fame in 2010.

"When I first started driving I'd run a race or two and then I'd get back into my whiskey business and make the money that I needed to run another race or two," he said at his induction.

In a 43-minute video made to honor Johnson's induction, three-time NASCAR champion Cale Yarborough said fans were attracted to the bad boy mythology.

"That was what a lot of people liked about Junior; he had a story behind him," said Yarborough, who won championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978 with Johnson. "He could drive a moonshine car and he could drive a race car, too."

Johnson liked to race up front, said Yarborough, who competed against his future team owner in 1965.

"He ran every lap just as hard as he could run it."

Johnson was the catalyst in getting NASCAR's top circuit to be sponsored in 1971 by the Winston cigarette brand, wrote NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley.

"Junior impacted every aspect of NASCAR in a manner that only an elite few have done," Kelly wrote. "We have lost one of NASCAR's true pioneers, innovators, competitors and an incredible mechanical and business mind."

Johnson was the subject of a famous 1965 article in Esquire titled "The Last American Hero," written by Tom Wolfe. It was adapted into a 1973 film starring Jeff Bridges. The book helped elevate the sport to a national level.

"Junior Johnson is one of the last of those sports stars who is not just an ace at the game itself, but a hero a whole people or class of people can identify with," Wolfe wrote.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. mourned Johnson's death in a tweet.

"Robert Glenn Johnson, Jr. The Last American Hero. What a Legend. Rest easy Junior," he wrote.

Johnson, who grew up near Wilkesboro, North Carolina, was imprisoned in 1956 for having a still and spent 11 months in detention. He was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

According to the North Carolina Museum of History, Johnson later became part owner of a distillery in Madison and helped create a legal version of his family's drink recipe.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 10817

Reported Deaths: 224
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah260872
Marion169751
Washington167620
Clackamas89425
Umatilla8346
Union3631
Lincoln3494
Lane2533
Malheur2351
Deschutes2240
Polk16612
Linn16510
Yamhill1649
Jackson1570
Jefferson1370
Klamath1311
Morrow1191
Benton986
Hood River980
Wasco971
Josephine611
Douglas560
Clatsop550
Coos480
Columbia450
Lake220
Crook150
Tillamook150
Wallowa110
Curry90
Baker80
Sherman30
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 292560

Reported Deaths: 6718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1232563643
Riverside21957515
Orange20225376
San Diego17842406
San Bernardino16586293
Imperial7464125
Fresno728184
Alameda7245142
San Joaquin581761
Kern575987
Santa Clara5552165
Tulare5298148
Sacramento477678
Contra Costa424186
San Francisco407150
Ventura385850
Santa Barbara380830
San Mateo3743111
Marin323226
Stanislaus300450
Kings282338
Monterey227017
Solano192227
Merced162311
Sonoma148714
Placer97011
Madera8578
San Luis Obispo8453
Yolo76028
Santa Cruz5033
Napa4534
Sutter3234
San Benito3042
Butte2954
El Dorado2800
Lassen2670
Shasta1715
Humboldt1574
Nevada1551
Yuba1543
Glenn1530
Lake1001
Colusa980
Mendocino980
Tehama981
Calaveras610
Del Norte580
Tuolumne580
Mono491
Amador350
Inyo341
Siskiyou330
Mariposa311
Plumas150
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 56°
Brookings
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 52°
Crater Lake
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 45°
Grants Pass
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Klamath Falls
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Warming up the rest of the week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events