Steve Johnson Returns to the 2021 NHRA Winner’s Circle
Steve Johnson returns to the winner’s circle at NHRA’s NGK 4-Wide nationals (May 16th), while posting the quickest elapsed time in history for a Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Johnson’s performance was actually the third quickest elapsed time ever for any brand of Pro Stock Motorcycle. Many will say the NHRA’s (National Hot Rod Association) Pro Stock class is the most prestigious and competitive in all of motorcycle drag racing.
“We have been working on this new 4-valve Suzuki engine nonstop for over a year,” said Johnson from his facility in Birmingham and still very excited after his team won their seventh NHRA Wally (name of the trophy). “After putting the Monster aftermarket 4-valve head on our engine and the guys testing it on the dyno, we knew we had something special. It’s incredible to have so much more low-end power now. We were really challenged to get it off the start and through a very unique six-speed Liberty gears box.”
Most all drag racing is a two-lane event. However, Z-Max Dragway, considered to be the Bellagio of drag racing facilities hosted the NGK 4-Wide nationals. The fans say the excitement here is quadrupled as four Pro Stock motorcycles drag race at one time at Z-Max. However, besides the very unique format, Johnson’s Suzuki team set low elapsed time (et) of the entire weekend in the final round.
“In qualifying, we ran a 6.73 that was good enough for the number 2 position going into race day. The conditions changed on Sunday so we had to really lean on the EBC clutch pack and the 10 inch wide Mickey Thompson rear slick to manage and control the horsepower. Both held up as it turns out the quickest 60 foot and the quickest 330 and 1/8 mile time of the event. In fact, our 1,000-foot et was the quickest of the event, but much more to our sense of accomplishment was our 5.60 et to the 1,000-foot clocks was the quickest of all time by anyone. The team of Jock, Chris, Glenn, Jeff, and myself had a meeting before the final four would race and we all decided to throw everything we could at it to win. They did such a great job and it all paid off. We really are feeling good… because we are the only Suzuki team to win this year and we feel like we won in dominating fashion.”
In the after-race press conference, Johnson was asked how winning this race was different than when his team won here at the inaugural Z-Max race. “This is the most special race or event of any kind that I have ever been involved in,” said Johnson, while grabbing the trophy and staring into the face of the statue. “That also includes winning the U.S. Nationals (NHRA’s crown jewel the Daytona 500 of drag racing). Here are three reasons why, first of all when we started this year we were in a pandemic and we are so fortunate that the NHRA can put this race on. Second, Ervin “Jock” Allen (29) contracted Covid-19 from his mom who later died.
Jock spent 24 days on a ventilator and because of UAB hospital and the Special Care team Jock got weaned off the vent, strengthen his lungs, learned how to walk again and a year later has almost fully recovered. I closed up the shop and was in ICU and in his Special Care room every day until his release. And thirdly we took on, what we know now the overwhelming commitment of doing our own engine program for the 2021 NHRA Camping World Series. It’s been the biggest thing, even more so than finding sponsorship than I have ever done to win an NHRA race.”
“Those three topics are why this win is my absolute most treasured win. But there is one more thing that is kind of corny but very special to me. Passing knowledge on to Jock is really cool to me. I think he is the first African American lead technician to win at this level in this class. I’m so happy and proud that the NHRA is so diverse and provides a platform for anyone with heart and work ethic to strive over here. Being from Birmingham we love our diversity, our hospitality and our home cooking… even if it in our facility cooking up some more power for our next race… The Summit Racing Equipment Nationals June 24-27.
Steve Johnson Racing want to thank MacRak, Tull Plumbing, Button Transportation, Slick 50, Brady Mechanical Contracting, Superior Machine, Lectron, Web Cams, Monster, EBC, Goodson, Liberty Gears, Mickey Thompson, DragWrap, Autofab, Optima, Denso, MST, Cometic, Sammy’s Pizza, High-Performance Lubricants, APE, World Wide Bearing, Nutscentz and Suzuki.
For more information: info@steveJohnsonRacing.com or 205-956-4777