Dick Johnson Racing kicks off 30th anniversary celebrations
Dick Johnson Racing kicked off celebrations to mark its 30 year anniversary on Friday with a supporters lunch at the Norman Hotel in Brisbane.
Speaking to the 150 invited guests, founder Dick Johnson said he was thrilled to see so many old faces.
“To look around this room and see people from Shell and Ford who have supported us from the beginning is really special,” said Johnson.
“30 years is a long time in motor racing.”
Johnson became a national celebrity in 1980 when, while leading the Bathurst race, he hit a rock rolled on to the Mt. Panorama circuit by a spectator and crashed out of the race.
A flood of sympathy and donations from the Australian public rushed in. Ford pledged to match the donations dollar for dollar which enabled the famous Tru Blu Falcon to get back on the track and gain victory at Bathurst the following year.
Johnson also won the Australian Touring Car Championship for the first time that year, and followed up with more titles in 1982 and 1984.
When asked to name highlights from the past 30 years Johnson said that the 1981 Bathurst win was hard to top.
“So many ordinary Australians had donated money to get us there,” he said.
“To come out and win I felt we had in some way repaid their generosity”.
And on the infamous ‘Rock’ Johnson said, “It’s still the best worst thing that has ever happened to me”.
“It really was the beginning of Dick Johnson Racing.”
While much has changed in motor racing over the last 30 years, Johnson said that family was still the heart of Dick Johnson Racing.
“Family has always been the most important thing to me and I honestly think of everyone that works for Dick Johnson Racing as part of our family.”
Team co-owner Charlie Schwerkolt also paid tribute to the people behind “The Team” as well as current sponsors including naming rights partner Jim Beam.
“We’ve worked hard to find the best people possible and without them we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” he said.
“As I’ve said before I think we’ve got the best group of guys and girls up and down pit lane.
“Right now we are focused on winning both the Team and Driver Championships for 2010, which I think we can do.
“I’m very proud of what we have achieved,” said Schwerkolt.
“The future looks really good for Dick Johnson Racing and Jim Beam Racing.”