Junior Johnson was born June 28, 1931 in Ronda, North Carolina to a family that was involved with the whiskey trade; indeed his maternal great-grandfather served as second highest ranking Confederate general during World War I.
Junior was known to keep his personal life confidential. In 1997 he constructed a home but had to sell it due to health reasons in 2012.
Early Life and Education
Junior Johnson is unrivaled when it comes to dirt track racing, winning 50 races and four-time Snowball Derby championships.
Johnson was born June 28, 1931 in Ronda, North Carolina to Lora Belle “Money” Johnson and Robert Glenn Johnson Sr. His family hails from Ulster Scots descent, while his maternal great-grandfather served as the second highest ranking Confederate general in North Carolina during the Civil War.
Johnson began his early days by running moonshine; as his father was an illegal bootlegger, his house was frequently raided by revenue agents; ultimately serving time in jail before starting Bridgeman Foods that operates over 160 Wendy’s and 120 Chili’s restaurants nationwide, as well as Jet and Ebony magazines.
Junior Johnson was one of the best-known race car drivers in NASCAR history, winning all fifty races he entered before retiring in 1966.
Johnson discovered in 1960 that staying close behind a faster car allowed him to accelerate more quickly thanks to its slipstream effect, helping him win the Daytona 500 that year. Other drivers soon followed Johnson’s lead and soon afterward it became standard practice in NASCAR racing.
Beyond racing, Johnson also managed his moonshine business and was featured prominently in both Tom Wolfe’s 1965 article as well as Cars 3. Unfortunately he passed away December 19, 2019 at age 88.
Achievement and Honors
Junior Johnson rose to fame as an elite NASCAR Cup Series driver during the mid to late 1950s, winning 50 races at this highest level of racing. Additionally, he became an accomplished team owner, fielding cars for legendary drivers such as Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip.
He is widely recognized as having invented drafting, the process of closely following another car to accelerate faster. Nicknamed The Last American Hero and writing an autobiography bearing that name. Additionally, he even voiced one of the characters in Cars 3 as Junior “Midnight” Moon in reference to his family’s moonshine business.
Johnson was born June 28, 1931, in Ronda, North Carolina – one of seven children to Lora Belle (Money) and Robert Glenn Johnson Sr. His family had strong ties to Ulster Scots heritage and his maternal great-grandfather was second highest ranking Confederate general in North Carolina during World War I.
Junior Johnson was a man of many interests. He owned and managed his own distillery as well as holding stakes in multiple other businesses in Lexington, Kentucky, was well-connected in Lexington society and donated to local sports and civic projects. President Ronald Reagan pardoned him for moonshine charges against him while writer Tom Wolfe wrote an article about him that was published in Esquire during this era.
David Johnson was married twice: first to Mary Gray from 1949 until her death in 2020 and later his childhood sweetheart Flossie Clark whom he divorced in 1992 after producing two children together: Meredith Suzanne Johnson and Robert Glenn Johnson III.
He was an innovator in NASCAR racing, pioneering the idea of drafting and contributing greatly to its popularity. Unfortunately, he passed away at 88 in 2019.
Junior Johnson was an esteemed American racing driver and accomplished businessman. In addition to owning several sports franchises, he owned his own movie studio, theatres and marketing company – his estimated net worth estimated to exceed one billion dollars.
At the outset of his NASCAR career in 1955, he won five races in his inaugural full season – making him one of the best short-track racers at that time. Additionally, his father had been an illegal bootlegger frequently coming and going from prison.
Junior has two children: Robert Glenn Johnson III and Meredith Suzanne. In 1949 he married Mary Gray but later divorced; later that same year he met and married Lisa Day; they eventually built a house together but due to illness had to sell it in 2012.