Johnson all geared up
Atlanta, pre-race: Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson is on pins and needles awaiting the start of this coming weekend’s NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. “It seems like forever since we’ve raced,” said Johnson from his shop in Irondale, Alabama. “I know it’s really only been about three weeks, and our team has been really busy, but there’s nothing like real, on-the-track competition to keep your blood flowing.
“We’re ready for this coming weekend, believe me. We’ve been testing four times since we raced in Houston, and while we did find some things that will improve our performances, I’m not going to go out on a limb and make wild promises. I’d rather wait and see how quick and fast we are in Atlanta, and take it from there.”
The goal this coming weekend is to make four good qualifying runs on Friday and Saturday, and then win two or three rounds of racing on Sunday. “Yeah, we’d like to win all four rounds, but we have to be realistic,” Johnson said. “If we can make it to the semifinal round we’ll know we’re headed in the right direction. That’s a realistic goal for us right now. It’s extremely tough competing against the Buells and Harley-Davidsons because they have a significant cubic inch advantage over the Suzukis. We’re not discouraged by that, though. It just makes us work that much harder.”
Early this week he’s going to make numerous appearances with Snap-on representatives at new car dealerships and Suzuki motorcycle stores throughout the south. Then, on Thursday, he’ll travel to nearby Talladega for the induction ceremony at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, which is something he’s really looking forward to. “It’s amazing to be there with so many famous people from all facets of motorsports,” he said, “but naturally, being a drag racer I’m really looking forward to the induction of Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins. He’s one of the most honored ‘doorslammer’ drag racers and engine builders in our sport’s history, and he’s a very colorful character, too.
“I’m also looking forward to the induction of Ralph Seagraves, who was instrumental in bringing Winston sponsorship to drag racing. He passed away back in ’98, but I know the turnout for his induction will be huge because of what he did for our sport.”
The next morning Johnson will hop on another commercial flight to Atlanta, where he’ll re-join his team, which will have arrived at Atlanta Dragway by Wednesday.
Along with an intensely busy schedule of personal appearances at schools on behalf of both Snap-on Tools and WyoTech Technical Schools, Johnson will also be the opening speaker at the Skills USA convention on Friday night in Lilburn, Georgia, about 30 minutes fro the track. With that scheduled to begin just 45 minutes after the last qualifying attempt of the evening he’ll be trading in his 195 MPH Suzuki race bike for a microphone, as he’ll give a brief presentation on careers in motorsports and the technical industry.
“It’s going to be another busy weekend for us,” Johnson admits, ‘but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t wait for the race to start!”
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