By Larry Woody
There’s only one thing that gives Mt. Juliet stock car driver Andy Johnson a bigger thrill than winning a race:
Watching his son Chase win one.
“I enjoy seeing him winning a lot more than I enjoy winning myself,” says Johnson, a former track champion at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway, who is considered one of the area’s top racers.
“Chase is a good little driver. He’s smart, and he’s like me – he hates to lose.”
And he’s only seven years old.
“He got an early start,” says his dad.
Chase races Quarter-Midgets on a track in Donelson. In three races so far this season he has two wins and a second-place finish.
“He’s grown up around racing, he’s always liked it, and it just seems to come natural for him,” Andy says.
Johnson, 38, has been racing since his teens. He won the 1997 Mini-Stock champion at the Fairgrounds, and in 2008 captured the title in the premier Late Model division, joining such past champions as Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Bobby Hamilton.
And he hasn’t slowed down, as he competes in the track’s abbreviated schedule this season. He got off to a rough start in the season-opener when he and Marlin crashed while battling for the lead.
“We both wanted the same piece of real estate and ran out of room,” Andy says. “It was disappointing, but that’s part of racing.”
There are a number of races remaining on the Fairgrounds schedule. Information about times and tickets is available on the track’s website, fairgroundsspeedwaynashville.com
When not involved with his own race car, Johnson is immersed in his son’s racing.
“I’ve always enjoyed racing,” he says, “but I’m getting to the point where I’d rather help Chase than race myself. I don’t know how much longer I’ll race, but I’d like to stay active so I can keep up to date on all the new stuff. That way I’ll be able to help Chase when he gets ready to move up.”
Ricky Bolden, one of Andy’s past racing rivals and a long-time friend, has two sons racing in the Late Model division, and Sterling Marlin has a grandson who, like Chase, is itching to join them eventually.
“It’s fun to see the kids of drivers I grew up racing against out on the track,” Johnson says, adding with a chuckle: “Even if the new generation makes us feel kinda old.”
Highland Rim Speedway: The Ridgetop track is in its first full season under new management that includes Mt. Juliet resident Roger Cunningham.
The Rim runs on Saturdays, and its schedule extends into the fall.
“We’re off to a great start, with good crowds and great racing,” Cunningham says. “Everything so far has been really positive.”
Race schedules, times and ticket information is posted on highlandrim.com.