NASCAR CEO Jim France on Friday's passing of Hall of Fame racer & 1960 Daytona 500 winner: "Junior Johnson truly was the 'Last American Hero'"

YouTube download / NASCAR video / Highlights of the lifetime racing achievements and off-track exploits of Junior Johnson, who died on Friday at 88. Johnson, the 1960 Daytona 500 champion and winner of 50 races in 313 starts from 1953-66 as a part-timer, was among the inaugural entrants in the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2010.

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France remembered racer Junior Johnson, the 1960 Daytona 500 winner, who died Friday at the age of 88, as the "Last American Hero," in reference to his aura in the early days of racing as a moonshine outlaw away from the track.

"Junior Johnson truly was the ‘Last American Hero'".France said in a statement released via NASCAR to Headline Surfer and other media outlets that cover the stock car racing sport. "From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit," ""

France continued, "He was an inaugural NASCAR Hall of Famer, a nod to an extraordinary career as both a driver and team owner. Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has. The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true giant of our sport, and we offer our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

France's reference to the Hall of Fame racer as the the "Last American Hero"  is an ode to the iconic 1965 Tom Wolfe feature on Johnson. A movie with the same name was released in 1973 about a familiar moonshine hauler turned NASCAR racer in the Carolina hills. Johnson, who never ran a full NASCAR schedule, saw his best season in 1965, winning  13 of the 36 races he started in with nine poles and 19 top 10 finishes. Johnson's biggest victory by far was the 1960 Daytona 500.

France's reference to the Hall of Fame racer as the the "Last American Hero"  is an ode to the iconic 1965 Tom Wolfe feature on Johnson. A movie with the same name was released in 1973 about a familiar moonshine hauler turned NASCAR racer in the Carolina hills. Johnson, who never ran a full NASCAR schedule, saw his best season in 1965, winning  13 of the 36 races he started in with nine poles and 19 top 10 finishes. Johnson's biggest victory by far was the 1960 Daytona 500.

After his racing days behind the wheel ended, Johnson became a successful NASCAR team owner, winning 123 races in more than 1,000 starts. Two of NASCAR's most prominent raceers won multiple NASCAR championships racing for Johnson: Cale Yarborough won three-straight championships, 1976-78, and Darrell Waltrip won the 1981, 1982, and 1985 championships.

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Post Date: Nov. 13, 2018
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.