NASCAR legend Junior Johnson dies at 88

Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson, one of NASCAR's earliest star drivers and a legendary figure in the auto racing garage, has died at age 88, according to NASCAR.

Posted: Dec 21, 2019 8:50 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2019 8:50 PM

Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson, one of NASCAR's earliest star drivers and a legendary figure in the auto racing garage, has died at age 88, according to a tweet from NASCAR.

Johnson won 50 races as a driver, including the 1960 Daytona 500, and six top-level championships as an owner.

"From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit," NASCAR Chairman Jim France said. "... Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has."

Johnson was a member of the first class inducted into the racing body's hall of fame in 2010.

"When I first started driving I'd run a race or two and then I'd get back into my whiskey business and make the money that I needed to run another race or two," he said at his induction.

In a 43-minute video made to honor Johnson's induction, three-time NASCAR champion Cale Yarborough said fans were attracted to the bad boy mythology.

"That was what a lot of people liked about Junior; he had a story behind him," said Yarborough, who won championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978 with Johnson. "He could drive a moonshine car and he could drive a race car, too."

Johnson liked to race up front, said Yarborough, who competed against his future team owner in 1965.

"He ran every lap just as hard as he could run it."

Johnson was the catalyst in getting NASCAR's top circuit to be sponsored in 1971 by the Winston cigarette brand, wrote NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley.

"Junior impacted every aspect of NASCAR in a manner that only an elite few have done," Kelly wrote. "We have lost one of NASCAR's true pioneers, innovators, competitors and an incredible mechanical and business mind."

Johnson was the subject of a famous 1965 article in Esquire titled "The Last American Hero," written by Tom Wolfe. It was adapted into a 1973 film starring Jeff Bridges. The book helped elevate the sport to a national level.

"Junior Johnson is one of the last of those sports stars who is not just an ace at the game itself, but a hero a whole people or class of people can identify with," Wolfe wrote.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. mourned Johnson's death in a tweet.

"Robert Glenn Johnson, Jr. The Last American Hero. What a Legend. Rest easy Junior," he wrote.

Johnson, who grew up near Wilkesboro, North Carolina, was imprisoned in 1956 for having a still and spent 11 months in detention. He was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

According to the North Carolina Museum of History, Johnson later became part owner of a distillery in Madison and helped create a legal version of his family's drink recipe.

Huntsville
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 52°
Florence
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 51°
Fayetteville
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 44°
Decatur
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 51°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 55°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 161537

Reported Deaths: 2718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23940385
Mobile17123319
Tuscaloosa10602141
Montgomery10503199
Madison955798
Shelby760565
Baldwin676869
Lee664965
Calhoun476562
Marshall447451
Etowah441952
Morgan430835
Houston423934
DeKalb355429
Elmore327858
St. Clair311342
Limestone297031
Walker287493
Talladega276437
Cullman266525
Lauderdale240543
Jackson225317
Autauga212631
Colbert210232
Franklin209432
Blount200925
Russell19833
Chilton192332
Dallas189227
Dale184952
Coffee183611
Covington177329
Escambia175831
Clarke138717
Chambers138047
Tallapoosa137287
Pike136414
Marion110931
Barbour10559
Marengo104622
Butler101941
Winston94713
Geneva9427
Pickens89018
Lawrence88533
Bibb86115
Randolph84616
Hale78130
Cherokee76414
Clay76312
Washington75812
Henry7316
Lowndes72128
Monroe66310
Bullock65117
Crenshaw61230
Fayette59913
Perry5996
Cleburne5799
Conecuh57213
Wilcox57112
Macon54320
Lamar5235
Sumter48621
Choctaw39512
Greene34516
Coosa2173
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 256880

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby37335570
Davidson32679345
Knox1319395
Rutherford12406115
Hamilton12175112
Williamson738756
Sumner6371113
Wilson492063
Putnam461059
Montgomery438960
Out of TN427836
Sullivan398150
Madison391880
Washington376753
Bradley370323
Blount351536
Sevier349722
Maury345839
Robertson268143
Hamblen254750
Tipton246623
Dyer233638
Unassigned22306
Gibson222749
Coffee198726
Hardeman193133
Greene187654
Obion185523
Anderson181314
Bedford178920
Trousdale17899
Dickson176319
Fayette175925
McMinn171238
Lawrence170720
Loudon169012
Cumberland166927
Carter166636
Wayne16197
Weakley161026
Jefferson160424
Monroe152129
Warren150711
Lauderdale149517
Henderson144126
Hardin143522
Roane14208
Macon138125
Franklin133623
Haywood132028
Hawkins127228
Overton126120
White125214
Johnson11927
Marshall119011
Carroll116926
Cocke115014
McNairy115029
Rhea114119
Campbell110413
Cheatham109712
Bledsoe10344
Smith103214
Giles100738
Lake9904
Lincoln9453
Fentress94411
Crockett90722
Henry83712
Hickman82915
Marion81210
DeKalb78617
Chester74115
Decatur67911
Grainger6364
Grundy58712
Union5554
Claiborne5437
Polk54013
Unicoi4775
Jackson4716
Humphreys4654
Morgan4587
Lewis4425
Benton43410
Cannon4322
Houston43117
Clay41815
Scott4085
Sequatchie3632
Stewart34811
Perry3435
Meigs3376
Pickett2879
Moore2832
Van Buren2122
Hancock1253

Community Events