FORTY years after Dick Johnson drove his ‘Tru-Blu’ Falcon to victory in the Bathurst 1000, son Steven has tasted success at Mount Panorama aboard its modern reincarnation.
‘Junior’ Johnson took victory in a dramatic opening Touring Car Masters points race of the Repco Bathurst 1000 weekend aboard the Team Johnson XD.
The nine-lap contest was an all-Falcon XD battle as pole-sitter Johnson held his advantage through Turn 1 and Marcus Zukanovic slotted into second.
Zukanovic stalked Johnson and took the lead on lap seven, only to suffer a right-front tyre failure on Conrod next time by and end his race in the sand trap.
That allowed Johnson to sweep through to victory ahead of Holden Torana drivers Ryan Hansford and John Bowe.
Johnson’s victory comes days after his XD came face-to-face with the 1981 Tru-Blu Falcon for the first time at Bathurst’s National Motor Racing Museum.
“To have the two XDs together in the museum and then to pull off a first-off pole and win at Bathurst in the XD on the 40th anniversary is a fairytale,” Johnson told V8 Sleuth.
“We had a race win last time out at Sydney Motorsport Park, but the car still doesn’t feel awesome, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do to get it right.
“Coming here I wasn’t overly confident in getting pole and then having enough pace to win the race, but I probably shouldn’t doubt myself and what we can do.
“It’s definitely a pleasant surprise. The car is very hard to drive, it’s a nervous, twitchy, car at the moment, we haven’t hit the sweet spot with the suspension and everything.”
Dick Johnson wasn’t trackside for today’s race; instead at home in Queensland, which currently has its border to New South Wales closed.
COVID-19 induced border restrictions in 2020 meant ‘DJ’ missed the Great Race for the first time in over 50 years, but he’s set to make a return this week.
“Dad and Mum are coming down,” said Steven.
“He’s getting depressed not being able to go to races, so he’s like ‘bugger it, I’m going down and whenever the border opens, I’m going home’.
“I’ll hopefully see him tomorrow and we can move forward for the next race.”
Border restrictions also required a change in crew for the #17 TCM Falcon this weekend.
“I haven’t got my two normal guys here because they can’t get back into Queensland, so I’ve literally got two mates who have never done this before,” added Johnson.
“One has done a little bit of sprintcar mechanic-ing before, and another from Full Throttle Custom Garage, who is a mechanic and a car builder there but has never done race stuff.
“I just love it for them. I said when I got out of the car you have more bad days than good days, so make sure you enjoy it.
“We haven’t come here to win a championship because we were mathematically in the hunt, but not really. We’ve just come here to have fun and win races.”
The Touring Car Masters will return to the track for Race 2 at 8:55am tomorrow.