Dick Johnson Racing
|Team Principal||Dick Johnson
|Team Manager||Campbell Little|
|Race Drivers||16 Scott Pye
17 David Wall
|Chassis||Ford FG Falcon|
|Drivers' Championships||7 (1981, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1995, 2010)|
|2013 position||8th (2,764 points)|
Dick Johnson Racing is Australia's oldest motor racing team. Founded by Dick Johnson, the team has won seven Australian Touring Car Championship titles (five of them by Johnson himself) and has taken three victories in Australia's premier race, the Bathurst 1000. The Gold Coast based team campaigns two Ford FG Falcon's in the International V8 Supercars Championship, one bearing Dick Johnson's long standing racing number 17.
The team has strongly identified itself with an image as a battler Queenslanders, frequently racing with state maps on the car. The team was initially based out of Johnson's family home in Daisy Hill in Brisbane's southern suburbs, before moving to facilities within sponsor Palmer Tube Mills' factory. In the late 1990s it relocated to a specialist workshop in Stayplton.
Early years and Group C
During the 1970s, Johnson was only a sporadic competitor in the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC), but a regular competitor, and victor in the Queensland Touring Car Championship driving a Holden Torana backed by petroleum giant Shell, and later by prominent Brisbane Holden dealership, Zupps. Johnson's national profile increased with the formation of Bryan Byrt Racing with Johnson as lead driver late in 1976, giving Johnson his first drives in a Ford XB Falcon. The team folded at the end of the 1979 season, but Johnson was able to utilise some of its resources to establish his own team for the following season.
After briefly investigating running a Mazda RX7, Johnson came to the fore when a change in regulations introduced the XD Falcon to the series. Johnson debuted his new Falcon at a non-championship meeting at Lakeside in June, and then finished second in the car in the 1980 CRC 300 at Amaroo Park in August. The largely unheralded Johnson qualified on the front row for the 1980 Bathurst 1000 and quickly built a large lead over the first sixteen laps of the race, including putting a lap on four time Bathurst winner Peter Brock. On the seventeenth lap Johnson collided with the wall at The Cutting trying to avoid a large rock in the road and a tilt-tray tow truck that was retrieving a mechanically failed car from the circuit. The impact was enough to all but destroy the car.
The tale of Johnson's battle with the rock at Bathurst in 1980 is still remembered, and some AU$72,000 was donated by the Australian public who pledged money through the race broadcasters, the Seven Network after watching the crash and subsequent TV interview with Johnson conducted by commentator Chris Economaki. The amount pledged by Channel 7 viewers was matched by dollar for dollar by then Ford Australia boss Edsel Ford II who recognised the significance of Johnson's performance at Bathurst in keeping Ford at the sharp end of touring car racing. The overall donation of $144,000 enabled Johnson to replace the car and get him back on track for the following season.
Inspired by the support and feeling a great sense of debt to the Australian public, Johnson went on to win the 1981 Australian Touring Car Championship and with co-driver John French the 1981 Bathurst 1000, with Johnson and French becoming the first Queenslander's to win the event. With Allan Moffat becoming a factory Mazda driver, Johnson became Ford's lead driver.
During the Top 10 qualifying run off for the 1983 Bathurst 1000, Johnson had his second major accident at Bathurst. On his lap for pole, Johnson ran slightly wide at Forrest's Elbow, with the rear of the Falcon clipping the wall on the exit of the corner. The car then hit tyres which were protruding from the edge of the wall which tore the right front wheel to the right and broke the cars steering. The Greens-Tuf Falcon would become the "Greens-Stuffed" Falcon as the car headed into the trees alongside the track and was destroyed.
While the car was a right-off, Johnson thankfully emerged from the wreck with little more than a headache and a small cut over his left eye, though he has no memory of the crash, or the lift back to the pits with Peter Brock who was on his warm up lap for his second run.
In a very generous move, fellow Falcon runner and reporter for The Mike Walsh Show, Andrew Harris, approached Johnson's wife Jill in the pits shortly after the crash and offered his car to the Johnson team if a replacement car could be found for him. Johnson's sponsor and friend Ross Palmer leased the Harris Falcon, while also buying the Barry Lawrence/Geoff Russell Holden VH Commodore for Harris to drive (Palmer would sell the car back to Barry Lawrence after the race).
The Harris Falcon was converted by Dick's team overnight in a marathon rebuild which included help from other leading teams (including the Holden Dealer Team's signwriter), while the Commodore was re-painted in the colours of Harris' sponsors (which also included a Bendigo Ford dealer). Unfortunately for Johnson and co-driver Kevin Bartlett, the hastily rebuilt car was to only last 61 laps. Better luck fell on Harris and co-driver Gary Cooke, who would finish 10th outright, with Harris winning the "Rookie of the Year" award.
With no local Ford product suitable following a change to international Group A touring car regulations at the end of 1984, Johnson ventured to Germany and purchased a pair of Zakspeed constructed Ford Mustang's for the 1985 and 1986 seasons. While the Mustang years brought limited success, reliability and good-handling in the underpowered Mustangs enabled Johnson to claim runner-up in the 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship, while his one and only victory aboard the Mustang was in the Group A support race at the 1985 Australian Grand Prix.
In 1987 the team switched to the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and began a 17 year sponsorship Shell. It expanded to a two-car effort for the first time with former motorcycle racer Gregg Hansford becoming Johnson's first full-time team mate. The new Sierra's were plagued with reliability problems, usually blown turbos, and this let the team down considerably, with only one win recorded in the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship at Adelaide International Raceway. Following the ATCC, the Sierra RS500 was homologated which addressed most of the car's shortcomings.
In 1988 John Bowe began an eleven year stint as the driver of DJR's second car. With the team having overcome the reliability problems of the previous year and team manager Neal Lowe having come to grips with the engine management system earlier than his counterparts, Johnson and Bowe finished first and second in the 1988 and 1989 championships.
In 1988 the team airfreighted Johnson's championshiip winning car to England to compete in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Silverstone. Johnson easily qualified on pole ahead of the leading Eggenberger Motorsport and Andy Rouse RS500s, and went on to an early race lead. The car was eventually slowed by a lengthy stop to replace a failed water pump. However the speed of the DJR car created interest and at the end of 1988 Robb Gravett of Trakstar purchased two DJR Sierras to supply his team with his Sierra RS500s, winning four races to finish the 1989 season 2nd in class and 4th overall. In 1990, Robb Gravett won the championship with 9 race wins.
After the two lead cars suffered mechanical troubles Johnson and Bowe comandeered the John Smith car to finish second in the 1988 Bathurst 1000, before winning in 1989 after leading every lap despite a late race loss of turbo power.
In 1991 the DJR team were outpaced with Bowe finishing sixth and Johnson ninth. In 1992 a team restructure saw Ross Stone appointed team manager with Bowe finishing fourth and Johnson eighth. Bowe won the round at Sandown and Johnson and Bowe finished second at Bathurst.
Ford Falcon and V8 Supercars
For the new all V8 era, DJR switched to Ford EB Falcons. Aside from John Bowe winning the opening 1993 round at Amaroo Park the team remained winless until it won both the Sandown and Bathurst endurance races as well as the season ending Australian Grand Prix support races. In 1995 Bowe won the championship. A repeat victory at Sandown that year augured well for another Bathurst win until an incident with Glenn Seton forced the number 17 Falcon from the track while leading.
At the end of 1995 team manager Ross Stone and chief engineer Jim Stone left to form Alan Jones Racing. While the Holden Racing Team dominated the 1996 season, Bowe finished the championship in second and combined with Johnson to finish second at Bathurst. Consistency in the 1997 championship enabled Bowe to again claim the runner-up position in the championship. DJR's only win in 1998 was by Bowe at Winton. For the endurance races Johnson and Bowe drove separate cars for the first time with Steven Johnson joining his father.
At the end of 1998, Bowe left DJR after eleven years to join PAE Motorsport. Paul Radisich was hired as his replacement. While the team struggled in the 1999 Australian Touring Car Championship developing new AU Falcons, the team was competitive at the Bathurst 1000 with Radisich and Steven Ellery leading most of the race until making contact late in the race with a slower car. In his final race, Dick Johnson finished fourth with son Steven.
In 2000 Steven Johnson took over the number 17 Falcon from his retiring father. Radisich teamed with Jason Bright to finish second at the Bathurst 1000. In 2001, Johnson won the Canberra 400 and teamed with Radisich to win the 2001 Queensland 500. This would be the team's last win for seven years.
In 2002 a third car was entered at selected events for Greg Ritter. At the end of 2002 Paul Radisich left the team. Max Wilson, Warren Luff and Glenn Seton would each complete one year stints as the driver of the second car between 2003 and 2005. At the end of 2004, Shell brought their 17 year sponsorship of the team to an end.
For 2005 sponsorship from Westpoint Corporation was secured. However by the beginning of 2006 Westpoint was in receivership. Sponsorship for the 2006 season came from two of Dick Johnson's own business ventures, FirstRock Mortgage Centre and V8 Telecom with Will Davison driving the second car. The ventures were not successful and by the end of the year, the team's long term viability was in doubt. As a result Charlie Schwerkolt bought a 50% shareholding in the team.
For 2007 sponsorship from Jim Beam was secured with the year highlighted by a third place at Bathurst. At the Bahrain round, Johnson finished third and Davison fourth. In 2008, Davison won the Eastern Creek round, the team's first win since the 2001 Queensland 500.
In 2010, James Courtney won the series. A third customer entry was prepared for Tekno Autosports, driven by Jonathon Webb. By mid-season owners Dick Johnson and Charlie Schwerkolt were reported to no longer be on speaking terms, and the team became fractured. Team manager Adrian Burgess announced he would join Triple Eight in 2011, and as a result of a clause in his contract giving him an 'out' if Burgess left, Courtney also left at the end of 2010 after winning the series.
At the end of 2010, Johnson and Schwerkolt dissolved their partnership. Scherkolt retained ownership of one Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) which was leased back to DJR for 2011 and 2012.
For 2012, the team expanded to a four car team, preparing customer cars for Triple F Racing with Dean Fiore driving and Paul Morris Motorsport with Steve Owen. At the end of the year, Jim Beam elected not to renew it sponsorship, the REC leased from Charlie Schwerkolt Racing was returned, while the Paul Morris Motorsport REC was sold to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.
A sponsor was lined up for 2013, but it was conditional on V8 Supercars confirming its arrangements by the end of 2012. As this did not happen, the deal lapsed and again DJR's future appeared in jeopardy. A last minute sponsorship with Wilson Security was secured and the team appeared with two entries for Tim Blanchard and Jonny Reid, with Steven Johnson moving into position of General Manager. Wilson Security remained with the team as title sponsor for the remainder of 2013. Reid was replaced by Chaz Mostert before the Wanneroo Raceway round of the championship. Mostert won a race at the Queensland Raceway round.
DJR performance cars
DJR had various attempts at building road cars, with the XE Grand Prix and BA DJR 320 being the most successful models. Johnson planned on building a XF Falcon, but like the XE before it, Ford showed no interest in it, meaning that only on prototype XF was built. Johnson tried again with a model built upon the EA in an attempt to draw attention from Ford, who were looking for a performance partnership in 1990. Tickford won out the contract, and again, only one EA DJR was completed.
XE Grand Prix
In 1982, Johnson partnered up Turbocharging expert David Inall, to produce a turbocharged performance version of the 4.1 litre six. The idea was to create a performance arm for Ford Australia in the style of Holden Dealer Team, in the wake of Ford's wanting interest in performance cars and the dis-continuation of the V8. Ford, unwilling to warrant the modifications however, declined to invest in the product.
The result was the Grand Prix Falcon that came with 190 kW, and was capable of mid 14 second 1/4 mile times. All came in distinctive "Tru Blue" paintwork, and a styling kit consisting of fender flares and Front and Rear spoilers. The interior and drive train featured parts from the European Sports Pack options that were available for the Falcon at the time.
In 2003, DJR joined with Herrod Motorsport to build the DJR 320, a performance car based on the BA XR8 falcon. A body styling kit was added to the existing XR parts, consisting of new side skirts, and front and rear spoiler lips. Herrod retuned the ECU, installed DJR camshafts, high-flow dual exhaust system with twin tailpipes and a cold-air intake; this increased the engine output from 260 kW to 320 kW. Suspension was improved by the use of adjustable dampers, and larger brakes rounded off the package. Only 14 were built.
The Dick Johnson Group also ran financial, real estate, and telecommunications services, which have since been sold.
DJR is based in Stayplton on the Gold Coast. The factory also housed a museum of the teams history. In 2006 Johnson sold his museum racing vehicles to car collector David Bowden. By arrangement with Bowden, a selection of Bowden's significant racing cars will rotate through the museum in DJR's workshop.
- Mark Oastler, XD Falcon,The Weighting Game, Australian Muscle Car, Issue 50, July/August 2010, page 54
- Robb Gravett. BTCC - The Super Touring Years
- "DJR divorce to reshape V8 Supercars grid". Speedcafe. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Charlie Schwerkolt sells his share of DJR". Speedcafe. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "James Moffat Signs With Jim Beam Racing". Jim Beam Racing. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- "Dick Johnson Racing confirms three-car team". Speedcafe. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "First Pic: Owen and VIP complete DJR line-up". Speedcafe. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Jim Beam to end Dick Johnson Racing Sponsorship". Speedcafe. 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- "FPR, Schwerkolt to join forces in 2013". Speedcafe.com. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Full steam ahead for LDM’s new second entry". Speedcafe. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Tim Blanchard confirmed at Dick Johnson Racing". Speedcafe. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Jonny Reid secures second Dick Johnson Racing seat". Speedcafe. 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- "Wilson security sticks with dick johnson racing for season 2013". Dick Johnson Racing. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Young Gun Chaz Mostert to Steer #12 Wilson Secuirty Falcon". Dick Johnson Racing. 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
- "Mostert and DJR win Ipswich finale". SpeedCafe. 28 July 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "DJR confirms Scott Pye for 2014". Speedcafe. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "DJR confirms David Wall and 2014 sponsors". Speedcafe. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "DJR announces Morris REC purchase". Speedcafe. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "David Bowden's Australian touring-car collection". Wheels Magazine. motoring.com.au. June 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2013.