BY DARREN REESE
SUN SPORTS EDITOR
With the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals set for this coming weekend at Bristol Dragway, what better time to celebrate local NHRA star Allen Johnson?
That's exactly what Greeneville and Greene County did this past Saturday as the local governments, along with the Greene County Partnership designated it Allen Johnson Day.
In conjunction with that, Johnson donated the car that he won the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock Division world championship to the City Garage Car Museum in downtown Greeneville.
"We were actually talking about it a few months before Allen won the championship, something to commemorate Johnson and Johnson racing here in the car museum," museum owner and long-time Johnson friend Kent Bewley explained.
"After he won it, Allen came to me and said, 'Well, why don't I just put the car down there on display for a while. I thought we should have some sort of event to commemorate that, so I called Tom Ferguson at the Partnership, and we got the city and county mayors to make a big event out of it, and here we are."
The Allen Johnson Day ceremony took place in front of the City Garage Car Museum just before noon Saturday, and state representative David Hawk (R-5th) was also in attendance, with a joint house resolution from Nashville recognizing the accomplishments of the Johnson & Johnson Racing Team.
"What Allen and his family have done in racing, and in this community has been tremendous for Greeneville and really put it on the map," Hawk said. "He continues to be a hometown boy. Through his business, he is a tremendous corporate citizen. Greeneville Oil has supported countless charities and civic organizations over the years, and we certainly are proud of him."
"The thing about Allen and (his father) Roy is, they are able to do what they love and have their family around while they do it. Family is big to them, and that's what means so much. It's just special to see everything they have accomplished."
Allen and Roy started the Johnson & Johnson Racing Team back in the mid 1990's out of Roy's small mechanic shop in Greeneville.
They began competing in the NHRA Pro Stock Division in 1996, and some 17 years later, reached the pinaccle of the sport by claiming the world championship last November.
Allen Johnson has 18 Pro Stock wins on his resume, and comes to Bristol sitting third in the 2013 points standings.
Last year's Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol was the site of one of Johnson's most heartbreaking defeats in a race car as he lost in the finals in a virtual dead heat to Mike Edwards.
The official difference was .0000 seconds - the closest final in NHRA history.
It came on Father's Day, nonetheless, and with his dad at the track, Allen wants nothing more than to give Roy a victory on their home track to celebrate the holiday.
"It would be something special," Allen said. "With my dad at the track, that's what this is all about. We've done it as a family from the very start, and I want to get him that Bristol win on Father's Day."