The Professor Hits 500: Warren Johnson Milestone Races GM Performance Parts GTO pilot Warren Johnson will add another entry in the NHRA record books this weekend, as he will enter his 500th NHRA Pro Stock national event, becoming the first ...
The Professor Hits 500: Warren Johnson Milestone Races
GM Performance Parts GTO pilot Warren Johnson will add another entry in the NHRA record books this weekend, as he will enter his 500th NHRA Pro Stock national event, becoming the first professional competitor to accomplish this feat. The following is a compilation of some of the more memorable performances from his first 499 races:
September 1971 - Indianapolis, IN -- Race #1 - Fridley, MN racer Warren Johnson, enters his first NHRA Pro Stock National event. (timeslip shown at left) Driving a 1971 Chevrolet Camaro, Johnson posted a 9.595-second elapsed time and a top speed of 139.31 mph in qualifying 28th for the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. WJ fell to Don Grotheer in the first round.
June 1975 - Columbus, Ohio -- Race #2 -- WJ scores his first NHRA Pro Stock elimination round wins on hole shots, advancing to the semifinals of the 11th annual Springnationals at National Trail Raceway. After posting a 9.139-second elapsed time to qualify 13th, Johnson's big block Camaro (right) opened by upsetting No. 5 qualifier Scott Shafiroff on a 9.18 to 9.11-second holeshot. WJ used another holeshot to eliminate highly favored No. 1 qualifier Wayne Gapp in the legendary Gapp & Roush Ford Maverick in the second round (9.13 sec., 149.50 mph to Gapp's losing 9.10 sec., 149.25 mph run) before falling to eventual race winner Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins in the semi-finals.
March 1976 - Gainesville, FL -- Race #8 -- Warren advances to his first NHRA Pro Stock final round at the 7th annual Gatornationals. After qualifying fourth at Gainesville Raceway with a 8.80-second elapsed time, WJ defeated Paul Blevins, Richie Zul and Dave Kammers before being edged by No. 1 qualifier Larry Lombardo (driving Grumpy Jenkins factory-backed Monza), who reset the National Elapsed Time Record at 8.71 seconds in the final, edging WJ's 8.76-second pass.
June 1978 - Columbus, Ohio -- Race #27 -- WJ claims his first NHRA Pro Stock No. 1 qualifying position at National Trail Raceway, logging an 8.636-second elapsed time (which was also Low Elapsed time of the event) with a top speed of 157.34 mph. Although Warren defeated Frank Iaconio in the first round, during an unusual re-run in the second round due to a Christmas Tree malfunction, Johnson's Camaro suffered a mechanical failure, allowing eventual winner Richie Zul to go on for the win.
July 1982 - Englishtown, NJ -- Race #42 - The Professor posts his first NHRA Pro Stock national event win at the Summernationals in Englishtown, NJ. Driving a 1980 Olds Starfire, WJ, who was now living in Norcross, GA qualified fourth with a 7.912-second elapsed time and 175.09 mph top speed. During final eliminations, he defeated Sam Gianino, Don Campanello and Joe Lepone in the earlier round before outrunning No. 1 qualifier Lee Shepherd in the final (.456 r.t, 7.903-sec., 174.41 mph - .467, 7.914-sec., 173.74 mph). Other winners that weekend included Mark Oswald in Top Fuel and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme in Funny Car. (Winner's Circle photo at left, including NHRA founder Wally Parks second from left)
October 1982 -- Fremont, CA- Race #45 -- Warren posts the first 180 mph run in Pro Stock history with his 181.08 mph speed in qualifying for the Golden Gate Nationals. Johnson capped this performance by going on to defeat Lee Shepherd in the final for the third win of his career.
September 1984 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Race #67 -- Starting from the second position, Warren defeats Don Coonce, Ronnie Manchester, Gordie Rivera and arch rival Bob Glidden to record his first U.S. Nationals win. In addition, WJ's 7.634-second clocking in the first round gave the Hurst/Olds Cutlass (right) low elapsed time for the weekend.
August 1986 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Race #91 -- WJ records the first 190 mph run in Pro Stock history in qualifying for the U.S. Nationals. In second session on Friday afternoon, Johnson's GM Goodwrench Performance Parts Olds Firenza rocketed through the traps at 190.07 mph to reset the national record.
September 1991 -- Reading, PA -- Race #178 -- WJ blasts to a 7.180-second elapsed time in qualifying to capture the No. 1 qualifying position at the Keystone Nationals. This marks the first time in Johnson's career that he held the NHRA National Elapsed Time Record. Johnson took advantage of his ACDelco Olds Cutlass' performance to power through the field, defeating Mark Pawuk in the final for the 24th national event win of his Pro Stock career.
October 1992 -- Dallas, TX -- Race #198 -- Warren Johnson qualified his ACDelco Olds Cutlass in the No. 1 position at the Chief Auto Parts Nationals in Dallas, TX to clinch his first NHRA Pro Stock Championship. Coming into the event, WJ simply needed to qualify at the Texas Motorplex in order to secure the title, and did so in fine fashion, posting a track-record 7.109-second elapsed time to pace what was then the quickest field in Pro Stock history, with Jim Yates anchoring the field with a 7.216-second time.
April 1993 - Atlanta, GA -- Race #204 -- WJ faces his son Kurt for the first time in competition, squaring off against the second-generation racer in the final round of the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. In the first father-son final round in NHRA history, (left) WJ edged KJ 7.179, 193.05 to 7.226, 193.00.
September 1995 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Race #250 -- Warren makes his 250th NHRA Pro Stock race a memorable one, capturing the No. 1 qualifying position and defeating Jerry Eckman, Pete Williams, Kurt Johnson and Lewis Worden enroute to his fourth consecutive U.S. Nationals win and his fifth overall win at "The Big Go."
April 1997 -- Richmond, VA -- Race #279 -- The Professor logs another entry in the NHRA record books by recording the first 200 mph run in Pro Stock history (left) and the first sub 6.9-second run at the Pennzoil Nationals. During the Friday night qualifying session at Virginia Motorsports Park, WJ's GM Performance Parts Firebird posted a 6.894-second elapsed time along with a 200.13 mph top speed, good enough for both ends of the national record. Warren also went on to defeat his son Kurt in the final for the 59th win of his career.
October 1998 -- Memphis, TN -- Race #314 -- WJ records a 6.881-second elapsed time to capture the 100th No. 1 qualifying position of his career. In typical fashion, WJ edged KJ in the final for his 72nd win.
September 1999 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Race #333 -- In what he describes as his favorite win, Warren, driving a GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird, carrying a special Superman paint scheme (left) captures the No. 1 qualifying position with a 6.920 second e.t. at the U.S. Nationals and defeats Kurt Johnson, Jim Yates, Jeg Coughlin and Greg Anderson to score his sixth U.S. Nationals win and 78th of his career. Making the accomplishment even more impressive is that WJ had flow back to Georgia with a damaged cylinder head following the Saturday morning qualifying session, returning in time for Sunday's action after effecting repairs on the damaged piece.
October 1999 -- Pomona, CA -- Race #339 -- With a speed of 201.07 mph, Warren sets Top Speed of the Event at the season-ending Auto Club of Southern California Finals, thus becoming the first driver in NHRA history to record the top speed at every event in a season.
July 2001 -- Denver, CO -- Race #376 -- Warren scores the 86th Pro Stock national event win of his career at the Mile-High Nationals to pass Bob Glidden and become the most prolific driver in Pro Stock history. After qualifying third at Bandimere Speedway, WJ defeated Mark Pawuk, V. Gaines, Mike Edwards and his son Kurt Johnson (left) on a holeshot to score the momentous victory.
March 2005 -- Houston, TX -- Race #459 -- The Professor adds an unusual distinction to his lengthy racing resume, qualifying in the No. 1 position and defeating Richie Stevens, Greg Stanfield, David Connolly and Jason Line to record the 93rd win of his NHRA Pro Stock career, thus becoming the oldest professional winner in NHRA history, displacing former Top Fuel driver Eddie Hill.
February 2006 - Phoenix, AZ -- Race #480 -- WJ advances to the 149th final round of his career, defeating Greg Anderson in the final to score his 96th national event win. This extends WJ's streak of reaching a final round at least once a season to an impressive 25 years.