The 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season ended on a high note for Snap-on Tools Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson of Irondale, Alabama when he clinched a ninth place ranking in the prestigious Top 10 points standings. It’s Johnson’s 15th Top 10 finish in 21 years of Pro Stock Motorcycle competition.
“I’m incredibly proud of our team for the way we finished the season,” he said from his pit area. “Ours was a classic ‘hills ‘n valleys’ season, with plenty of ups and some disappointing downs, but finishing in the Top 10 kind of makes it all worthwhile.”
Earlier in the week Johnson and his motorcycle appeared in the Permatex booth at the APAA Show in Las Vegas. Johnson also spent some time at the companion SEMA Show at the Los Vegas Convention Center visiting with industry people. “I always find those gatherings interesting and informative,” he said. “I’m always surprised by how many people know about our racing, which is kind of cool. At the APAA Show we were able to demonstrate our Reaction Time tester for hundreds of executives. It’s a kick to get those people to throw a leg over our Suzuki race bike and try to sit low down like they would if they were racing. Just sitting on the motorcycle properly is a lot harder than they expect.”
For the first time Johnson was asked by the U.S. Army to participate in their new format Youth and Education Services program for the students of Southern California. “That was a great honor to be on that panel with POWERade Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher. All of the Army-sponsored drivers participated in that, and it was lots of fun.”
Johnson also visited Upland High School in Upland, Calif. with the folks from WyoTech Technical Schools. “This was the first time we’ve done a WyoTech program with corporate executives from the company, and I think they had a great time. Those programs are always fun for me, and I’m proud to represent them in ‘Changing Students Lives.’
“I feel the same way about my relationship with Snap-on Tools. A lot of race fans think that sponsorship simply means a company pays you money to run their name on your race bike, but there is so much more to it than that. When Snap-on franchisees and customers can see their product being used in the racing situation it goes a long way towards demonstrating the real worth of those tools. I don’t care how much money someone might pay me, I’m just not going to endorse their product if it doesn’t get the job done, and Snap-on Tools definitely do that for us and dozens of other racers out here.
“Now, with all of that said I’ve got to admit I’m incredibly frustrated by how tough our sport really is. In the first round of eliminations I had a 0.010 Reaction Time, which is about as good as you can get, and we still lost. There was a time when the first round was kind of a warm-up for the later rounds of eliminations, but no longer. You’ve got to bring your A game right from the outset or you’re not going to win.”
Johnson’s new powerplant performed well, recording a best elapsed time of 7.022 seconds during qualifying, and then notching a fairly good 7.052 in the first round –but Karen Stoffer’s 7.019 was better, and she won.
“I’m not totally disappointed,” Johnson added. “We ran well here, and we’ve got plans in the works to improve our performances for next season.
“For us there will be no ‘off season.’ We’re going to get after it hard between now and our first race, which is next March.
“Ball players always say Wait ‘til next year. Well, we’re not waiting. We’re going to be testing and working on new concepts beginning in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to it.”