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My Memories of The Professor
My Memories of The Professor.
by Wayne Holland
I have been a fan of Warren Johnson's since early in his Pro Stock carreer, when he was still living in Minnesota. In the racing magazines I read, he was always referred to as: Warren Johnson and his big block Camaro. I think it was the stuborness to run the big engines, even though he had to carry extra weight, that I admired him for. Obviously, his experience with them paid off when NHRA went to 500 cubic inches in 1982.
In the Fall of '79 or '80, I went to an IHRA race at Commerce, Georgia and saw Warren Johnson for the first time. He and General Lee Edwards were in a close battle for the IHRA Pro Stock championship. The track announcer said that for Warren Johnson to win the Pro Stock title, Lee Edwards had to lose first round, and Warren had to win the race. Lee Edwards ran first and as he was doing the burnout, one of his slicks went flat. This opened the door for W.J. Warren had blown the doors off of his Camaro during qualifying and the car was looking rough when he came to the starting line with the new doors in primer. That didn't affect his performance, however, as he went on to win the race and the championship that day. (Warren won the IHRA Pro Stock title in 1979 and 1980.)
In the early eighties, I went to a race in Crossville, Tennessee where Warren Johnson and Rickie Smith were having a match race. This was the first big name match race I had seen and it was really a thrilling experience. Warren was driving an Olds Firenza and Rickie Smith was in a Mustang. After doing vicious burnouts, they would stage and test-launch through two gears, taking them to half-track. Crossville Dragstrip was an eighth mile track and they were running in the 5.20s. That was the quickest door cars I had seen at that time. Rickie Smith won the first and third runs giving him the match race win. He was all smiles as he got out of his car and went over to shake Warren's hand. He told Warren that he had been trying a long time to win one of these against him.
(See, also, Photos by Wayne Holland.)