Allen Johnson: From The High Banks To The Straight Line
It’s not very often that a drag racer can say they’ve raced at Daytona International Speedway, but now I can. I had the chance to compete in the final two rounds of the Dodge Viper Cup season at Daytona, the weekend before Las Vegas.
It was an awesome experience. You watch cars go around those high banks at 180-190 miles per hour for a long time and then to get to do it yourself was a lot of fun.
I had some real good coaching from Craig Stanton, who was the other celebrity driver, along with everyone at Lux Performance, who provided the Mopar-powered Dodge Viper ACR-X that I drove. I feel like I’m getting a little better each time I get to road race, and I just love the experience.
After flying around at Daytona, it was time to fly out to Las Vegas to climb back in my Mopar Dodge Avenger. Before heading to the track, we took part in the Fremont Street Experience’s Third Street Stage fan festivities.
I made my grand entrance to the event on a zip line, though it was kind of mild compared to last year when we jumped straight off the Stratosphere, which is one hundred and eight stories high.
The fan fest they have on Halloween weekend in Las Vegas is one of the best attended of the year. It was on Fremont Street, which is in the old town part of Las Vegas and the fans have a lot of fun. We signed autographs for two hours, met a lot of Mopar fans and had a great time.
At the track, we made it to our second straight final in our new Mopar Dodge Avenger with the special Mopar Express Lane paint scheme. The new car and the personnel additions are paying dividends. Hopefully we can take that into the last race of the year and build on it and go to one more final. I want to end the year on a strong note and carry that into the opener at Pomona in 2012.
At Vegas, I won the 250th round of my career, which is pretty neat. It’s always special to get to a milestone like that. Every driver is always looking to add to his resume and I take each round one at a time. I’m looking to build on that race-win category as well and hopefully add to that. Every week I’m looking to go into rounds and win.
Following the racing at Las Vegas, we headed over to the SEMA show, where it was busy, busy, busy. I had a chance to visit with the team from Mopar, including Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, along with Tricia Hecker, Director of Marketing, Mopar. We took part in a Team Mopar autograph session at SEMA, as well as one with NHRA.
I got to see a lot of people at SEMA that I do not get to see very often, including many of our vendors, so that’s always good. We get to rub elbows and do a little schmoozing and that’s part of the deal as well. We even got to see some fans that didn’t get to make it over to the track in Las Vegas.
Mopar had a big announcement at SEMA, and that was that Jeg Coughlin Jr. is returning to Pro Stock in 2012 and will be a Team Mopar driver. Jeg is a fierce competitor and I enjoy racing with him. He has a very good team and he will be tough right off the bat. He’s a great addition to the Mopar brand. Hopefully he, I, Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines can go out and rock the world with our Mopars.
I couldn’t leave Las Vegas without stopping at Lawry’s to eat some rare prime rib. I also tried my hand at a few table games as well and was able to leave with a few dollars for once. Usually you leave some money there, so that was good. It’s always fun in Las Vegas and getting to do a few things away from the track, in addition to all of the great fan interaction that we have there.
Since we don’t have a race this weekend, my wife Pam and I will go watch the Greeneville Green Devils football team on Friday night. It’s the first round of the playoffs and they are looking to win the state championship for the second straight year. They’ve had a great season so far and are a very strong team.
I have plenty of chores to do around the house as well this weekend and first on that list is to winterize my boat and get things ready for winter. We’ve had a couple of frosts already this year and the temperature has been getting down into the lower 30s at night.
It will be nice to head to Pomona next week where it will be sunny and warm, and we look to end the year on a strong note in our Mopar Dodge Avenger.