One of Australia's truly memorable and inspirational racing drivers.
Major national sporting personality
Dick Johnson is still a major national sporting personality even though he is now retired from racing. As one of the most successful racing drivers in Australian history, Johnson is still very much involved on the sport that made him famous.
With a special understanding of team leading in a pressure environment, Dick Johnson has always played a hands-on role at the track and at home in the workshop. He can offer insights and advice that only 35 years in a fast-paced sport can provide.
Highly regarded for his exploits on the track and his laconic humour off it, Dick Johnson is well known to people everywhere, both inside and outside the motorsports scene.
Dick Johnson is readily identified with Ford’s proud blue-and-white oval badge, but he actually started his long and successful career in the rival camp, racing a Holden FJ in 1964. He won his second ever start. After several seasons of success Johnson moved to a Holden EH and, by 1969, had attracted support from Shell – the start of an association which has continued almost unbroken since.
Major southern events
In 1977, Johnson began a series of attacks on major southern events after switching to the Ford camp driving a Falcon V8. The laconic Queenslander then became a national celebrity in 1980 when, while leading the Bathurst race, he hit a rock rolled onto the Mt Panorama track by a spectator and crashed out of the race. Sympathy and donations from the Australian public flooded in and had Johnson's Falcon back at Bathurst and victorious in 1981.
Australian Touring Car Champion
Johnson became the Australian Touring Car Championship for the first time in 1981, and followed up with more titles in ’82 and ’84. After a steady start in the new Group A Touring Car category with a Ford Mustang, Dick gave the revolutionary Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 its world debut in 1987…running under the full sponsorship of Shell for the first time.
Season of development
A season of development followed and then in 1988 the Queenslander raced to victory in the Shell Australian Touring Car Championship, with his team winning eight of the nine races.
Success followed success
Dick Johnson's skill at driving fast ensured success followed success. He dominated the Shell Series again in 1989 to score a record-equalling fifth Australian Touring Car Championship title. Together with Bowe, Dick Johnson led every single lap at Bathurst to win the classic for a second time. They then finished the successful ’89 season on a victorious note with a win in the Pukekohe 500 (NZ).
Persevering through tougher times
Persevering through tougher times shows the depth of Johnson's commitment to his sport and the strength of character needed to keep trying. After the dominance of the previous two seasons, ’90 and ’91 were difficult. The new-generation Nissans kept Johnson to just a couple of race wins, although together with Bowe, they led Bathurst in both years until striking trouble.
Dick Johnson found renewed enthusiasm when he started the 1992 season in fine form with a strong second in the Winfield Triple Challenge at eastern Creek, and followed that up with second in the ‘Peter Jackson Dash’ series. In the Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst, Johnson and Bowe were officially placed second, despite leading the field back to the start line after the leader had crashed in a rain storm and the race was stopped.
V8 Touring Car era
Australia’s all-new V8 Touring Car era introduced in 1993 could not have begun better for Johnson when, back aboard one of his beloved Falcon V8s, he won the opening heat of the Shell Championship. In the 1994 season, Dick Johnson claimed motor racing’s grand prize, the Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst.
Dominance and awards
Dick Johnson's dominance of Australian motor sports is unquestioned. His skill brought success and his personality brought respect. Recognition of his services to motorsport and charitable organisations came with Johnson being made a Member of the Order of Australia - Dick Johnson AM appeared prominently in the Australia Day Honours List of 1997.
Johnson then set about creating even more history. The 1997 season saw the new-look shell Helix Racing Team at the front again at Bathurst and Johnson also contested the Top 10 Shootout for the 20th time at the Primus 1000 Classic. Despite being among the leaders in both, out-of-control back markers in both races damaged the famous number 17 Falcon sufficiently to put it out of each event.
Early in 1999, Dick Johnson announced his retirement from driving. His final season as a driver was difficult as the team struggled with a car that was vastly different from its predecessor and the introduction of a control tyre for the first time. Despite the setbacks Johnson soldiered on, preserving a statistic that has seen him finish in the top ten every year since 1981.
Teamwork and tenacity
Teamwork and tenacity are the major contributors to Dick Johnson's amazing record. He understands the demands of maintaining a successful record in the face of hard times and disappointment. As a speaker, he brings the same qualities and insights to his audiences and they love him for it. He is a real inspiration who understands what it takes to get to the top and stay there.
“Excellent. Dick was very interesting and very much enjoyed by all our guests. A fabulous addition to our event.”
“Dick’s presentation targeted our key intent, and that is working as a team to build solid customer relationships. A wonderful addition to our event, our guests took pleasure in his wit and expertise in the motor industry.”
GE Fleet Capital