FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE KURT JOHNSON TO CAMPAIGN NEW CHEVROLET CAMARO IN 1998 Johnson Joins Team Chevrolet with Factory-Supported Z28 Sugar Hill, Georgia; January 12, 1998 -- Kurt Johnson will have a new race car and a new crew ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KURT JOHNSON TO CAMPAIGN NEW CHEVROLET CAMARO IN 1998
Johnson Joins Team Chevrolet with Factory-Supported Z28
Sugar Hill, Georgia; January 12, 1998 -- Kurt Johnson will have a new race car and a new crew chief when the 1998 NHRA drag racing season gets underway at the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., on January 29-February 1. Johnson will debut his new ACDelco Pro Stock Camaro at Pomona Raceway, marking the return of Chevrolet to drag racing's most competitive and most technically sophisticated class. Jeff Perley will be calling the shots as crew chief for Kurt Racing, Inc.
"I'm really charged up about my new ACDelco Camaro," said Johnson, 34, of Lawrenceville, Georgia. "There are thousands of Chevrolet fans in the stands at every NHRA event, and I'm looking forward to giving them something to cheer about.
"The first race car I worked on was my Dad's Camaro back in 1970," recalled Johnson, the son of three-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. "Now 28 years later, we've come full circle. Every street car I've ever owned has been a Chevy -- two Camaros, an S-10 pickup, and a Blazer -- so I'll feel right at home in a car wearing a red Bow Tie."
"Kurt Johnson's new Camaro is a perfect fit with ACDelco's all-makes coverage," commented Ken Robinson, director of advertising for General Motors Service Parts Operations (SPO). "We expect both Kurt's Chevrolet and his father Warren's Pontiac to be strong contenders for the 1998 championship with ACDelco oil filters, ACDelco RAPIDFIRE spark plugs, ACDelco batteries, and GM Performance Parts."
Along with the new car, there will be a new face in the Johnson camp as Jeff Perley takes over the crew chief duties for Kurt Racing. Like the Johnson family, which relocated from Minnesota to pursue a racing as a full-time occupation, Perley is a refugee from the frozen north. The Canadian worked on a variety of dragsters and "Mountain Motor" Pro Stocks before joining Kurt's Georgia-based ACDelco team.
Johnson's first race of the '98 season will be against the clock as he and his team work to complete and test their new red-white-and-blue ACDelco Camaro before the start of the 22-event NHRA championship drag racing series. The Camaro Z28 is scheduled for its first wind tunnel test in Pro Stock trim at the GM Aerodynamics Laboratory in Warren, Michigan, in mid-January. The crew will then return to Sugar Hill, Georgia, to put the finishing touches on the sleek machine before heading out to Tucson, Arizona, for several days of track tests.
"Our plan is to start the season with the same chassis setup that we used at the end of last year," reported Johnson, who won the season-ending Winston Finals and finished third in the 1997 Winston championship. "We'll have a good data base when we begin racing the Camaro body. The '98 Camaro's aerodynamic package looks promising -- especially the new front end with flush-mounted headlights. We'll build a second Camaro later this season that will incorporate what we learn in the first few races."
Johnson was literally raised on drag racing and Chevrolets. As a baby, his mother Arlene cradled him in her arms as Warren drove his "weekend warrior" '57 Chevrolet bracket racer to obscure tracks throughout Minnesota. Kurt learned the rudiments of racing in his father's shop, working his way up from floor sweeper to engine builder. The Johnsons campaigned a modified '40 Chevrolet in 1969, and made the leap to Pro Stock in 1970 with a new Camaro. After a brief stint with a big-block Vega, W.J. debuted the Camaro that he drove to a runner-up finish in the 1976 NHRA Pro Stock championship race. He went on to win the 1979 and 1980 IHRA Pro Stock titles with that same car.
Kurt Johnson began his driving career in 1993, winning three national events and the "Rookie of the Year" honors. In 1994, he became the first Pro Stock driver to run a 6-second elapsed time in NHRA history, posting a record-setting 6.988-second e.t. in Englishtown, New Jersey. In his five-year career, Johnson has a total of ten career national event victories in 20 final-round appearances, and has finished in the Top Five in the points standings for five consecutive seasons.
Chevrolet has a rich history in NHRA drag racing at Pomona Raceway. Twenty-eight years ago, Bill Jenkins won the inaugural Pro Stock race at the 1970 Winternationals driving a Camaro. When the new season of racing begins, Kurt Johnson will be leading the charge to put Chevy back in the Pro Stock winner's circle.
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E-mail from: Rick Voegelin, 13-Jan-1998