As a 20-year veteran campaigner on the NHRA Full Throttle Series tour with his Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle, Steve Johnson of Irondale, Ala., is used to a very busy schedule. Despite his familiarity with hard work, Johnson and his team will be tested in the next few weeks. Along with competing in two critically important races; the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver and the Sonoma NHRA Nationals in the California city of the same name, Johnson will also make a half dozen personal appearances at a wide variety of venues.
“We’re used to the grind,” said Johnson from his race shop in Alabama as the team was loading equipment for the trip west. “None of this would happen without the dedicated work by our guys, Ervin ‘Jock’ Allen, Rick Elmore and Greg Tumlin. I know everyone’s always talking about how hard their teams work, but when it’s true, what else is there to say?
“It’s tough enough making the transition from racing at a high-altitude track like Bandimere Speedway in Denver to the near sea level of Sonoma, but it’s all part of the job. Now, throw in the distances involved, and the appearances we’ll be making on behalf of our sponsors Vitelity, Mercedes Benz, White Rodgers, and CJ Energy Services, and you begin to see what we’re up against.”
Vitelity is a recent addition to Steve Johnson Racing. Specializing in VOIP (voice over ip) communications (www.vitelity.com), the firm brings the ultra-modern world of communications into the equally complex world of drag racing. “In our little world of drag racing ‘performance’ is the key word,” says Johnson. “It’s the same thing when it comes to communications, and since I’ve experienced it personally, I can attest that drag racers and their sponsors could benefit from Vitelity’s quality, speed and huge cost savings.”
On the way to the Mile-High Nationals Johnson will make a stop at Vitelity corporate headquarters in Englewood, Colo. “I’m excited about that visit,” said Johnson. “Getting a chance to visit the sponsor on his home turf is always a great learning tool for me. But meeting everyone and seeing their reaction when the company surprises the staff with tickets to the races so they can watch their team in action will be a real kick for me. In some cases we will be delivering NHRA Drag Racing to a brand new group of potential fans.”
“On the way to the Mile-High Nationals” is a loaded statement, because even before the Vitelity visit Johnson will spend July 16-17 representing the Mercedes Benz STARt Elite program at the United Technical Institute campus in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Johnson will then fly to Laramie, Wyo., to make the first (July 18th) of three appearances at Wyotech Technical School campuses where he’ll speak to the students on “Marketing Yourself after Receiving Your Diploma.”
Following the Mile-Highs Johnson will spend a couple of days in physical training with his Top Fuel dragster-driving buddy, David Grubnic. “We’ll do some dirt bike riding,” Johnson said, “But that’s not all. Grubby’s a workout fanatic and he’s got me doing it too. If I can only keep up!”
On the 25th Johnson will present at the Sacramento, Calif., Wyotech campus, and then, following the Sonoma Nationals, he’ll make his final stop at the Fremont, Calif., campus on July 30th.
“Man, I’m sorry that I even looked at that schedule,” Johnson lamented. “Seriously, I love the school events as I have really honed in on some key points on how the students can accelerate the process of getting a job.
“As for racing, the truth is that we ran really well at the last two races in Chicago and last weekend in Ohio. We’re really encouraged about the future and for us, that future begins right at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver.”
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