The trip to Pomona wasn’t a first for Brian like it was for so many of the other competitors since he came to the Summit finals a couple of years ago with his friend, Jeff Lanoue, but he admitted that this time was different. “When you’re actually part of the race it’s pretty impressive,” he said. “The folks at Summit couldn’t have been nicer, they really do go all out for you. When I was here with Jeff I didn’t go to the dinner or take part in any of the activities, but this time I did and it was unbelievable.” Brian said that he enjoyed everything from the special dinner that Summit had for the competitors to being introduced with the pro racers on Sunday morning. “It was all pretty exciting and I hope to do it again next year.” Well, based on his performance in the bike class in Division 5 over the past few years, he just might. Brian has won either the divisional title or the Summit Racing Series Finals in seven of the last eight seasons.
Like so many racers, Brian Johnson began racing right out of high school in 1986. He started with a bike that was basically street legal and then, gradually, moved up the performance ladder. “You know how it is, you start with a bike that runs well and then you want to go faster, so you add some wheelie bars, get the engine done and stuff like that,” Brian said. Rick Ward, a fellow Minnesotan and friend of Brian is the guy who does the engine on the bike. And being from Minnesota, Brian may have had one little experience that none of the other racers at Pomona did. “It was funny, we had a little snow the day I was leaving for California and I actually had to get the broom out and clean the truck and trailer before heading west,” he said. When he did finally head out, Brian and his friend Lance Larson took their time on the drive west, stopping off at Las Vegas to catch some of the action at the Lucas Oil divisional race there and then stayed for another day before completing the trip. When he got to California, Brian joked that going into Pomona was a lot like going into one of his home tracks, Rock Falls Raceway. “Yeah, its’ pretty easy to get the two of them confused,” he said, because the tracks are so much alike.” Be that as it may, Brian credits the competition at both Brainerd and Rock Falls for making him so good. “The bike program around home is very good and between the divisional races and the special Kerker Shootout that we have for the motorcycles, it’s not easy to be the bike champ. And the regular program for the Super Pro cars, well, that’s brutal. Everyone in that class can win at any time.” This year, though, only one of them was able to win the big race and that’s thirty-five year old Brian Johnson.
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