Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Steve Johnson of Irondale, Ala., “can’t wait for this month to be over. Bring on April!” he said after scoring a quarter final round finish at the NHRA O’Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.
“Our season hasn’t begun the way we hoped it would,” Johnson admitted after his Snap-on Tools/WyoTech Technical Schools Suzuki motorcycle slowed from a relatively decent qualifying effort to less than stellar elapsed times during eliminations. “We tried two different engines in our Suzuki,” Johnson added, “and while crew chief Mark Peiser and I are in agreement that our chassis is actually performing the way we want it to, there’s something ‘missing’ in the engines. With that in mind we’re staying here in Houston for extensive testing on Monday so that we’re ready to run hard when we race in Atlanta at the end of April.”
Johnson had another busy weekend, making appearances at three area high schools on Thursday with a group of Snap-on Tools Industrial reps during which career planning and technical education was discussed with the young people. The appearances were covered by both the Houston Chronicle newspaper and the local Fox Television affiliate. “I found out later that there was a closed circuit telecast of the appearances to another three schools,” Johnson said. “I would have been a lot more nervous if they’d’ve told me that up front!”
On Friday Johnson was once again a guest speaker as part of the U.S. Army’s Youth & Educational Services program with the NHRA, and in the afternoon hosted a group of high school vocational students, many of whom had been present during his appearances on the previous day. “Other racers sometimes ask me if I get tired of doing those kinds of things,” he said, “but I never do. Those young people are the country’s future, and if I can be a positive influence in terms of their career goals and educational opportunities, it’s too important to ever get tired of.”
On Saturday a large group of WyoTech Technical School enrollees and their families toured Johnson’s always-busy pit area, where he and his team demonstrated their equipment and tried to give everyone a small idea of how much work is involved in competing on the NHRA POWERade Series circuit. “You can see a light going on in their heads when we talk about the reality of the working world,” Johnson said. “I know these young people are smart because even in their teens they’re looking towards what a WyoTech education can do for them in the job market. This is important stuff, and we never forget that.
“We have a ton of races left,” he said, “but we have to get after it now, not later. That’s why we’re getting our Suzuki ready to run first thing tomorrow morning.
“When we hit the track at Atlanta on April 25 I expect us to not only be competitive, but a real threat to win it all.”