Junior Johnson: Born a legend

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The family business of moonshining helped Junior Johnson discover his love of fast cars.

"Well, I was a hotrodder. I like fast things. I got old enough to get me a car. I started working on the motor to make it faster and faster. I bet my buddy I could outrun him, and everybody tried to beat me. To beat me would be just the best thing they could ever do," Johnson said.

When asked if anyone ever beat him, his answer was simple, "No! That's one thing I was pretty gangbuster on, was fast cars and driving."

Junior went on to be an innovator in the sport of NASCAR, discovering such things like the draft that are still used in the sport today.

"I didn't know what it was, but I stumbled on something. If I figured out what it was I could really be good. I was running dead last. When I drove up on a car, I'd gain, pick up something and keep on going. I won that race (The Daytona 500), and didn't know how I won it. I couldn't figure out, but it was the draft," Johnson explained.

Johnson also shared stories of racing on the beaches of Daytona and even tying himself in the race car with rope.

"I don't know how I dodged all that danger. It was natural for me to not do the other things. It was for the best of it. The other people, where I was tied in, they just hold the steering wheel, you can't hold yourself in and turn the wheel too. First comes first, and I don't know where I got the knowledge of picking up whatever I did. I didn't do it like nobody else," Johnson said.

He went on to win 50 races and 46 poles as a driver, but his NASCAR career didn't stop there. In 1965 Junior for Junior Johnson & Associates to became a team owner, where he continued to challenge everyone in the sport.

"I had adventures of what I thought would work and what I thought wouldn't work," Johnson said. "I think my advantage was mostly, I figured out what I needed to do, before I did it."

Johnson won six championships as a team owner, and in 2010 was one of five people selected for NASCAR's inaugural Hall of Fame Class. That honor is not something he likes to brag about, but he is proud of what he accomplished on the track.

"I'm just lucky that I could figure out stuff that nobody else could thought about, dreamed of. I think I'm one of the smartest racers, if not the smartest racer, and I think my record stands up to that," Johnson said.

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