Mike Was A Race Car Driver
Mike was a race car driver. Give him a fast car, and he was a happy man. He drove them all. He raced an old Hardtop when he was 16. He was "Rookie Of The Year" in a Winged Sportsman at Antioch Speedway. He raced the open wheel Midgets and Sprint Cars, and he was good.
His biggest supporter and fan was his father Dave. Dave raced Hardtops and Sprints Cars as well, and he was well liked among his fellow competitors. But Mike had bigger dreams. He was going some place in racing, and he had the gift of gab. He was a good talker, and people tended to believe in him.
He was an up and comer in NARC, California's premier Sprint Car organization at the time, but that wasn't enough. He wanted to race with the famed World of Outlaws. So, he took a Sprint Car and his dreams and headed east from California. He was determined to make it.
Mike worked at shops and did what he could to pay the bills and keep racing. Though he ran some Outlaw races, he and a group of friends started going to the big races that the Outlaws didn't race. He won some races doing that.
Like many of the greats, Mike had his close calls. He nearly lost his life in a fiery crash at the famed Knoxville Speedway. Mike even made a few races on National TV, but the money finally ran out and he headed back home.
What he discovered was there were no open wheel divisions in California that met his budget, so Mike decided to start his own division. Santa Maria Speedway had started a California DIRT Car division, patterned after the DIRT Modifieds that raced back east.
Mike had his critics. He was like that. He rubbed some people the wrong way and some people felt he shouldn't start this new division. He founded the NCMA, which still exists today, almost 30 years later. He won the first championship and was kicked out of the club a year later. If not for Mike, there would be no NCMA..
Mike was a visionary, but he never really had the money to make it happen. He relied on the sponsorship of others to make things happen. Some people had bad experiences dealing with him, and others have fond memories. He definitely loved the sport and tried to do good things.
They called him "The Concord Desperado" in his early days when he was winning races and that "Rookie Of The Year" award in his Winged Sportsman division at Antioch. His last win was with the NCMA at Altamont in 1999. There is so much that can be written about Mike's racing career, and this has barely scratched the surface.
Word is that Mike isn't in a very good place these days, but hopefully things will get better. And, who knows? Perhaps "Concord The Desperado" will ride again.
Dedicated To Mike Johnson
Image Credit » Photo By Me