Young Mt. Juliet racer Chase Johnson won three championships this season and wants more next year.
Like lots of 10-year-old boys, Chase Johnson would like to get a hauler and race cars for Christmas.
The difference is, Chases’ aren’t toys.
The Mt. Juliet Christian Academy fifth-grader already has the race cars — he has been racing quarter-midgets since he was 8 – and has asked Santa to bring him a new hauler to tow them around in.
His dad Andy has it on good authority that one’s on the way.
To go with his new hauler, Chase is also going to get a full-time mechanic, Randy Weaver, to help prepare his cars at his dad’s Mt. Juliet shop and work with him next season when he expands his racing into full-fledged stock cars.
“I’m looking forward to it,” says Chase, who this season won championships in three quarter-midget divisions. “Driving bigger cars will be exciting.”
“I think he’s ready,” says his dad, who won the premier Late Model championship at Fairgrounds Speedway in 2008. “He’s a good little racer, a great kid who’s never been in a bit of trouble, and he’s worked hard. I’ll help him all I can.”
On his way to scoring a championship triple at the Music City Quarter-Midget track in Hermitage, Chase won 31 races and 26 poles.
He also had a couple of crashes.
“I wasn’t hurt,” says Chase, who escaped the fender-bender with some minor scratches.
But, he admitted, the crashes were “a little scary.”
Did he have any second thoughts about getting back in his race car?
“Nope, not at all,” he says.
In the upcoming season Chase plans to continue to run quarter-midget races while also racing 4-cylinder stock cars at the Fairgrounds, where he father once reigned. During the summer when he’s out of school, Chase will compete in some Pro Mod races in the Carolinas.
He says all the racing never gets old.
“I like it,” he says. “I like winning. As soon as I win one, I want to win another.”
“He’s eat up with it,” Andy says. “He’s like me when I was his age — I couldn’t get enough of it. Once racing gets in your blood it’s hard to get it out.”
Andy ran two Late Model races this season at the Fairgrounds, then sold his car and equipment to Lebanon’s Scott Fetcho whose son Dylan will use it next season.
“Between my work and helping Chase I didn’t have enough time to race myself,” he says. “So I’m officially retired as a driver.”
He adds with a laugh:
“I know I’ve ‘retired’ a couple of times in the past, but this time I mean it. I’m done. The only way I’d get back in a race car is if someone paid me to, and that’s not going to happen.”
Obligations at work limits how much time Andy can devote to his son’s expanding racing schedule, which is why he hired Weaver to help out.
“Randy Weaver and I have worked together for a lot of years and won a lot of races together,” he says. “He will handle the mechanical stuff and serve as Chase’s crew chief. I’ll still do the coaching.”
Will he miss the competition?
“Yeah, some,” Andy says, “but I get a bigger thrill out of seeing Chase win than I did when I won.”
Chase has been determined to follow his dad’s legacy in the sport as long as he can recall.
“I started going to the track with my dad and watching him race as far back as I can remember,” he says. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. My dad has taught me lot.”
“Run the best you can every lap and never give up. That’s the way he always raced, and that’s how I want to race.”
Fans can follow Chase’s exploits on Facebook at chasejohnsonmotorsports.
Fairgrounds schedule: Fairgrounds Speedway kicks off the 2017 season on April 2. The full schedule, along with ticket information, is posted on the track’s website.
Rim awards: Highland Rim Speedway’s Championship Banquet will be held Jan. 28. Among the champions honored will be Lebanon’s Dylan Fetcho, who captured the track’s Legends Series title. Information is available on the website.
By Larry Woody