Bathurst Drivers: Dick Johnson

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Dick Johnson

Dick Johnson

Dick Johnson

Undoubtedly one of the best loved Aussie race drivers of all time. Even those who were not fans of the blue oval seemed to warm to him in a way never before seen. Johnson found a love for driving as a young child while in the company of his father, and to the casual observer the progression to highly ranked race driver seemed inevitable. But the progression to becoming a three times Bathurst winner was certainly no walk in the park; dedication, commitment, talent and a little luck all play their part.

Although we associate Johnson with Ford’s, his racing career on the Mount started out with Holden Torana’s, then as a struggling back-marker during the 1970’s. The watershed would come in 1980, a race that would see Johnson put in one of his best performances to date. Victory is never a given at the Mount, nor is a podium finish, the circuit has produced too many heartbreak moments for that, and 1980 would be no different.

The Rock

A rock appeared on the track, and debate remains to this day as to whether it had fallen or had been thrown. The car was all but destroyed, and Johnson’s 1980 campaign seemed over. But Aussie race fans could see the heartfelt emotion from his impromptu interview immediately after the accident, and public donations to get his race team up and running again began to flood in. Ford promised to match the donation dollar for dollar, and the next year Johnson was back on the track, and in better shape than ever.

He would win both the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) and the Bathurst 1000 (with partner John French) for 1981, the ATCC again in 1982 in his now familiar “Tru Blu” XD Falcon, and again in 1984 in the now “Greens Tuff” XE Falcon. He switched to the all conquering Ford Sierra RS500’s and would again take out the ATCC in 1988, and in 1989 grabbed both the ATCC and Bathurst titles (this time partnering with John Bowe). That winning partnership would continue through the early 1990’s, and the pair would again take victory at the Mount in 1994 when driving a Falcon EB.

In 1989 and 1990, Johnson made a brief foray into the Nascar Winston Cup, 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. Dick Johnson would retire from racing at the end of the 1999 season, however he has remained in charge of the team, with son Steven now taking over the number made so famous by his father, 17. If your up for it, why not take a hot lap with Dick.

Co Driver
Torana XU-1
Bob Forbes
Privateer Alfa 2000 GTV John French fire, lap 71
Privateer Ford Capri Graham Moore 10th
Bryan Byrt Ford Falcon XB GT Vern Schuppan oil pressure, lap 124
Bryan Byrt Ford Falcon XC Vern Schuppan 5th
Bryan Byrt Ford Falcon XC Gary Scott accident, lap 24
Tru Blu Falcon XD John French accident, lap 17
Tru Blu Falcon XD John French 1st
Tru Blu Falcon XE John French disqualified, lap 160
Greens Tuf Falcon XE Kevin Bartlett electrics, lap 61
Greens Tuf Falcon XE John French gearbox, lap 110
Greens Tuf Ford Mustang Larry Perkins 7th
Greens Tuf Ford Mustang Gregg Hansford 4th
Shell Ford Sierra RS500 Gregg Hansford differential, lap 3
Shell Ford Sierra RS500 John Bowe 2nd
Shell Ford Sierra RS500 John Bowe 1st
Shell Ford Sierra RS500 John Bowe DNF
Shell Ford Sierra RS500 John Bowe DNF
Shell Ford Sierra RS500 John Bowe 2nd
Shell Falcon EB John Bowe accident, lap 96
Shell Falcon EB John Bowe 1st
Shell Falcon EF John Bowe accident, lap 110
Shell Falcon EF John Bowe 2nd
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