Tommy Johnson Jr. has found his nitro driving niche. Get a ride, experience a new country. For the third time in his storied career, Johnson is driving for a team based outside of the United States.
Johnson has subbed twice this season for Larry Dixon as a driver for Rapisarda Racing based outside of Sydney, Australia. He because adept at learning the ins and outs of international drag racing. The more it changes for him, the more it remains the same.
“You see the immediate differences, but then you see how everything is the same,” said Johnson. “You immediate see the passion for the sport in each country’s followers. The way they live might be different but when it comes to the drag strip, you quickly see that it’s all the same. It’s one common thing we have worldwide. Drag racing is the same no matter where but you always learn something new.
“It’s not the same old routine, The way they do some things are different such as the technical inspections and the way you sign in. Every country does their procedures a little differently just like the tracks. Learning the basics can be a bit tough, but the on-track is the same. The organizational differences take a little getting accustomed to.”
Johnson visited Australia for the first time last month, and he admits, the second time around, he was better prepared for the experience.
“This being my second trip down to Australia, it’s a little easier. The first time was a bit overwhelming. I’ve managed to fit right in, blend in a little bit. I find it easier to travel down here easier, it’s the trip back which is the toughest. You lose a day coming down, and while you are a little tired, you get used to it. By the second day, you are back up to speed. Coming home is the tough part. It was close to 36 hours between the time I left here until I got home before I was able to sleep. That can take a toll on you.”
Subbing for Dixon, Johnson understands he has some huge shoes to fill for the record-holding driver, who after taking a 360-degree spin in a dragster, returned to establish a new Australian fuel record.
Will he at least try?
“Ummmmm … nope,” Johnson said, with a laugh. “That’s the last thing I want to do, is to be more spectacular than Larry. They tell me I have to do a 720 just to top Larry’s performance.
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