Johnson defied father for Bathurst co-drive

Johnson defied father for Bathurst co-drive
Jul 19, 2019, 2:00 AM

Steven Johnson went against advice from his famous father Dick Johnson to ensure the pair would race together at the Bathurst 1000 back in 1998.

The father-son duo made a pair of Bathurst appearances together in the late 1990s, failing to finish in 1998 before grabbing a fourth at Dick's farewell race in '99.

However the Johnson dream team almost didn't happen. The younger Johnson has revealed that he was offered a full-time multi-year contract with Garry Rogers Motorsport for the 1998 season, taking the seat vacated by the British Touring Car Championship-bound Steve Richards.

While the deal would have been his breakthrough as a full-time Supercars driver, it also would have ruled out any chance of the two Johnsons sharing a car at Mount Panorama.

According to Steven Johnson even his father advised him to take the GRM deal, however he opted to go against that advice and stick with the family-run outfit.

"There was a black-and-white offer to go, a multi-year deal for me to race there full-time in Garry’s Commodore,” Johnson told the V8 Sleuth podcast.

“It was a really hard decision because, being such a close family and knowing that Dad was going to come to the end of his career in the not-too-distant future, I decided to decline that drive.

“[Dad] left it up to me. He actually told me I should take [the GRM seat].

"I went against him to drive with him.

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"We talk all the time about what would have happened if I did this or did that, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I loved what I did. I had a great time doing it.

“That fourth [at Bathurst] in 1999 was hard. It would have been so good and fitting for him to stand on the podium for his last race there.

“But once we got the car back and knew how bad the brakes were, it literally had no brakes, it was on the backing plate, we don’t know how he got it up to fourth.

“I still think that was one of the best drives of his career.”

Johnson turning down the GRM seat opened the door for Garth Tander to kickstart his career with the Melbourne-based Holden squad.

His own chance as a full-timer came in 2000 when he took over the famous #17 DJR entry, which he raced until the end of the 2012 season.

At that point he was forced to retire due to financial problems at DJR, which started a chain of events that led to Roger Penske buying into the team ahead of the 2015 season.

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About this article

Series Supercars
Drivers Steven Johnson , Dick Johnson
Teams DJR Team Penske
Author Andrew van Leeuwen