Memphis: Warren Johnson preview

The Professor finds the Silver Lining in Recent Rain Clouds GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver recalls emergency repairs effected during last year's rain delay in Memphis SUGAR HILL, GA., September 17, 2003 - The primary story surrounding ...

The Professor finds the Silver Lining in Recent Rain Clouds
GM Performance Parts Grand Am driver recalls emergency repairs effected during last year's rain delay in Memphis

SUGAR HILL, GA., September 17, 2003 - The primary story surrounding the NHRA's POWERade Drag Racing Series over the last few weeks has been the inclement weather that has dogged the world's best quarter-milers. At the last two events in Indianapolis and Reading, persistent rain showers have forced officials to postpone the last day of qualifying and final eliminations to another weekend, sending racers and fans scrambling to make alternate arrangements.

Having seen it all during his 28-year Pro Stock career, Warren Johnson simply takes such events in stride, preferring to look beyond the delay and take advantage of any potential opportunity. For example, as the NHRA makes its way south for this weekend's Lucas Oil Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, TN, Johnson recalled how the heavy rains at this race one year ago actually worked in the GM Performance Parts Grand Am team's favor.

"We most certainly would have preferred to run the last two events as scheduled," stated Johnson. "These postponements not only put extra demands on the teams who have to return and complete the race, but they are an inconvenience to the fans, some of whom have planned vacations around our events.

"Unfortunately, there is little you can do about Mother Nature. As with any situation, the GM Performance Parts team will simply look to make the most of it, taking advantage of the extra day at the shop to work on a few projects. In fact, last year's rain delay in Memphis turned out to be a blessing for our team.

"One of the tie-downs holding our Grand Am in place in the transporter snapped en route to the track, allowing the race car to hit against the sides and back gate as the truck went down the road. We worked inside the trailer through the downpour to repair the damage to the nose and tail, completing it just in time for the first session on Friday evening. It wasn't pretty, but it was fast, and we were the No. 1 qualifier. I'd say that was making the best of a bad situation."

The primary challenge at this weekend's event may lie in taming the track at Memphis Motorsports Park. Although the cool fall temperatures will be conducive to making horsepower, the bumpy racing surface will have teams scouring their notes to find the proper combination to maintain traction without a great loss in speed.

"The Memphis track is one which certainly needs grooming," said Johnson. "Over the years, the racing surface has gotten rougher, making it tougher to get down under power. However, we'll all be dealing from the same deck, and with our record of success in Memphis, we've got just as good a chance as anyone.

"The number one priority, however, is the one we have the least control of - the weather. Fortunately, it seems that Hurricane Isabel will not be a factor, which would be the first break we've gotten in the weather in almost a month. As long as it stays dry and we are able to race, our GM Performance Parts Grand Am should be in good shape."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson