Dick Johnson vows to keep the Supercars dream alive despite losing Penske support
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Dick Johnson has declared the future of Australia’s most famous racing team is safe, with the Ford legend claiming the withdrawal of Penske Racing will not stop his 41-year V8 charge.
The owner of the sport’s most iconic team, Johnson has his eyes firmly set on taking Dick Johnson Racing (DJR) to a record-extending 11th title even without the backing of billionaire Roger Penske.
Soon to turn 76, Johnson went as far as saying that it was his love for racing that was keeping him alive.
“That and my wife Jillie,” Johnson said.
“They are the only things that are keeping me alive. Racing is still the thing that really motivates me.
“Seeing all the guys enjoying themselves and loving what they do … there is nothing like it. It just pleases me to have them all here and for all of us to know we are going racing again next year.”
Johnson has reclaimed a 50 per cent share of his business after the departure of Penske Racing last month.
Called DJR Team Penske during a five-year reign where they won three championships, the outfit will once again revert to Dick Johnson Racing.
DJR was never in danger of folding, according to Johnson.
“I never thought about backing out when the Penske thing happened,” Johnson said.
“Not at all. I love it all as much as ever. I am never going to quit this.”
Even without Scott McLaughlin — who left Supercars to chase an Indy Car dream in the US — Johnson predicted the new era would be steeped in success.
The five-times Bathurst champion said his team was the strongest it had ever been.
“I have learned so much over the last five years,” Johnson said.
“What Roger has instilled in us will never be lost.
“He has taught me so much about motor racing: the procedures, the presentation, all the business side of things. It all makes so much of a difference.
“The team has gone to another level again. The whole Penske thing has been an eye-opener.”
Starting as a one-car team in his Brisbane backyard, Johnson has turned Dick Johnson Racing into a 10-time championship-winning outfit that employs 35 full-time people.
“It has been quite the ride,” Johnson said.
“Quite the transformation. It all started in a little garage and things are a whole lot different to back when I started. It amazes me how much we have been able to grow.
“Roger didn’t turn the whole thing upside down, but he took us to a new level and added to the legacy of this team.”
Fresh from winning a third straight title, Johnson is already eyeing of further success with new drivers Will Davison and Anton de Pasquale.
“There is no reason that we can’t keep on winning,” Johnson said.
“We still have all the same people and all the same sponsors. The only thing that has changed is our drivers and Will has been here before and knows the place. I know he has a lot more left in him.
“And Anton is at the same place in his career as Scott was when he came here in 2017. I think we have a really good shot at it.”