One of the most impressive milestones in local racing history was reached last Friday night at the Outlaw Speedway when Danny Johnson won his 600th career modified main event.
The 62-year-old Rochester driver started his 43-year DIRT Hall of Fame career in 1979 with his initial victory at the Canandaigua Speedway. Johnson continues to race weekly at Outlaw Speedway and has recorded two wins there in 2022. Attesting to his versatility, Johnson has won feature races at 55 different tracks.
Johnson’s 600 wins leave him in the third position on the all-time Northeast win list, behind Brett Hearn (920) and Billy Pauch Sr. (744). The fourth position is occupied by Johnson’s older brother, Alan, with 561 wins. Their combined total of 1,161 victories makes them the winningest brother duo in local racing history.
The Johnsons were introduced to racing as toddlers, when their father, Milt, was racing at local Central New York tracks. Milt also built race engines at his B&M Machine shop in Rochester.
The brothers fell in love with racing and were both out running as soon as legally possible.
“That all I ever wanted to do,” said Danny. “I was fortunate enough to have some great car owners and they provided me with top-notch equipment and I had lots of success.”
Looking over Danny’s stat sheet, he’s recorded 89 Super DIRTcar Series wins, which is second on the all-time list. He’s also won 36 times in the SDS 358 modified class. His record in the Super DIRT Week shows at the NYS Fairgrounds is also an impressive one. He’s qualified for 37 of the 49 SDW 200s run to date.
Johnson won the Super DIRT Week 200 twice in 1994 and 2006 and the 358 Fairgrounds finale in 1994 and 2006. In addition to his twin wins during SDW in 2006, Danny also picked up a $20,000 win in the Victoria 200 at Fulton that same year.
Danny had 81 wins and four championships at the Land of Legends Speedway; 66 wins and two titles at Weedsport; 25 wins and five titles at Rolling Wheels; and 25 wins and six Eastern States 200 championships at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown.
When asked about the biggest difference in short-track racing over the years, Johnson was quick to come back.
“It’s all money these days,” he said. “You used to build your own cars and motors, but now you have to buy everything. Parts and tires are in short supply these days and it’s a lot tougher to make a living out there than years ago.”
SHEPPARD WINS: The Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Tour had a Wednesday night stop at the Big Diamond (Pennsylvania) Speedway and tour point leader Matt Sheppard came away with the $7,500 victory in the 75-lap main event.
Polesitter Ryan Godown led the first 12 laps off the pole, but Sheppard came from third to the lead on lap 13. Stewart Friesen started seventh but raced into the second position on lap 23.
For the remainder of the main event, Sheppard held his ground and recorded his 19th feature win of 2022. Godown followed Friesen to the checkers, with Alex Yankowski, Adam Pierson, Louden Reimert, Matt Stangle, Brandon Grosso, Mat Williamson and Anthony Perrego completing the top 10 finishers.
Other local finishers included Tim Sears Jr. (14th), Jimmy Phelps (15th) and Max McLaughlin (27th). Thirty-four DIRT big blocks were on hand at this one-third-mile oval in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
MONSTER TRUCKS: There will be no oval track racing at the Brewerton and Fulton Speedways this weekend due to the two-day monster truck program at Fulton this Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Renegade National Monster Truck Tour takes over this Route 57 Fulton oval for complete shows on Friday and Saturday night. Gates open Friday at 5 p.m., with a pit party from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday’s show begins at 7 p.m.
Gates open Saturday at 3 p.m., followed by the pit party and show at 5 p.m.
BELLINGER LEADS: With four point races left in the Oswego Speedway season, Brandon Bellinger has a 20-point lead over Dave Danzer for the top spot.
Brandon is striving to become the first third-generation racer to win an Oswego track championship. His grandfather, Ed Bellinger Sr., won three track titles in the 1950s and his father, Eddie Jr., was the 1985 champ.
An on-track family autograph session at 5 p.m. precedes the 6 p.m. supermodified racing program.
UTICA-ROME: The CRSA 305 sprint cars join Utica-Rome’s weekly show this Friday night. Matt Sheppard leads Rocky Warner in the U-R modified point standings. Their 30-lap feature pays $2,400 to win.
LOL: It’s family autograph night at the half-mile Canandaigua oval.
ELDORA: The Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, hosts two of the best-paying World of Outlaws sprint programs of the year this Thursday and Saturday night. The Historic Big One Thursday is worth $100,000 to the victor on their half-mile clay oval. This Tony Stewart-owned track comes back Saturday evening with the 39th King’s Royal program that carries a $175,000 first-place prize. More than $750,000 in total payoffs are on the line for this pair of WoO specials.