CLERMONT, Ind. -- Throughout the 2005 POWERade Drag Racing season, two of the favorite topics for discussion have been whether indefatigable Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson would indeed retire at the end of the season, and, if so, who would succeed him behind the wheel of the GM Performance Parts Pro Stock GTO.
During a Saturday press conference at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind., officials from General Motors Service and Parts Operation (GMSPO) provided answers to both questions. Based on a year-long evaluation of their NHRA drag racing program, GM Performance Parts announced that they had not only decided to extend their association with Warren Johnson Enterprises for another three years, but have also invited "The Professor" to remain as their driver.
"Over the last year, GM Performance Parts has taken a hard look at our involvement with Warren Johnson, as well as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series," stated Jim Moloney, General Director of Marketing for GMSPO. "In an era where companies strive to establish brand identity, we found that the powerful association between Warren Johnson and GM Performance Parts, supports our marketing strategy, counting many of his legions of fans among our customers.
"WJ has an incredible reputation and rapport which spans the entire automotive community, from racers in every form of motorsports, to the professional technician, to the do-it-yourself mechanic, all of whom value his advice. He has been involved in the development of all three generations of the highly successful GM Drag Racing Competition Engine (DRCE) and we plan on leveraging his tremendous technical expertise in the creation of future GM Performance Parts product lines."
"In other words, even at the age of 62, Warren Johnson is still an extremely effective spokesperson for our product, offering us something we are not ready to give up. Through good times and bad, this is a relationship that still makes sense. Therefore, we are pleased to invite The Professor to continue as the driver of our GM Performance Parts GTO, giving him additional time to search for his successor."
The all-time leader in NHRA Pro Stock wins with 95, Johnson is in the midst of another outstanding season in arguably the most competitive division in motorsports. Powered by the revolutionary GM DRCE III engine, Johnson's GM Performance Parts Pontiac has scored three wins in five final round appearances, as well as posting a class-leading six No. 1 qualifying positions. Despite the infusion of younger racers, "The Professor" has more than held his own while continuing to work on his race car, and is solidly in contention for his seventh championship.
Viewing today's announcement from the business perspective, the pragmatic Johnson realizes the importance of the continuation of his relationship with his long-time sponsor, and is excited by the potential for this program in the future.
"I have always approached my racing as a business, as my chosen way of making a living," said Johnson. "In today's economy, an integral part of that equation is having a long-term sponsor, and I have been fortunate to be involved with GM's Service Parts Operations and their GM Performance Parts, ACDelco and GM Goodwrench brands since 1986.
"As a competitor, I've used GM Performance Parts over the years and can attest to their quality and reliability. As a businessman, I understand that GM Performance Parts is in the business of selling parts, and, as their representative, it is my job to do whatever is necessary to help them in that endeavor, both on and off the racetrack. Over the last year, we have had several discussions of how we could achieve that common goal, and I look forward to continuing that relationship.
"Although I realize the end of my driving career is in sight, I believe we have adequately shown throughout 2005 that we can and will continue to contend for the championship. Both my son Kurt's and my programs have shown tremendous potential, and I look forward to returning behind the wheel of the GM Performance Parts GTO in 2006. I guess I'm just having too much fun to give it up."
When it comes to racing, GM's goal is to win on the track and win in the marketplace. Racing is a
compelling demonstration of the depth of GM's technical resources, the capabilities of its people
and the performance, reliability, and quality of its products. The racetrack is the toughest of
proving grounds to forge engineering, marketing and business skills into tangible results. Few, if
any, environments can match racing's ability to build awareness and consideration of a
manufacturer's products to new customers, while simultaneously solidifying the loyalty of current
customers. GM Performance Parts are more than just power. For more information, visit them online