Veteran Car Owner and Driver Team Up

Thursday, May 15, 2003
by Bill Wright

Legendary car owner Bob Vielhauer has returned to weekly racing at Knoxville. Many remember the drivers he has brought here to pilot his #12x on a weekly basis included his son Billy Vielhauer and Oklahoma City’s “Champagne” Shane Carson. Bob has tapped Okie City again this year as he is teaming up with Wayne Johnson to tackle the 410 championship here at Knoxville in their Wesmar powered Maxim. The two bring a potent combination to Knoxville’s weekly program.
The likeable Johnson is no stranger to Knoxville fans. In 2000, he took home the hardware in winning the 360 Nationals over Matt Moro and Larry Neighbors, probably the veteran’s biggest win to date. “When I first came to Knoxville (1997), I worried about the guardrail, it was intimidating. I made up my mind to get over that,” says Wayne. Get over it he did, and Knoxville is a place he likes to run.

In 1987, Wayne started his career racing at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in his hometown. He earned Rookie of the Year honors, driving in the 100” modified (similar to dirt champ) class, and won the fourth race he ever competed in. He moved up to the supermodified class the next year and brought home the same honor. Johnson sat in a sprint car for the first time in 1989. Rookie of the Year honors also found him in 1991 with the NCRA 410 division, and he followed that up with a championship in Oklahoma City the following year. His next championship would be with the 360 ASCS series in 2000.
Last year Wayne “had a ball” running with the World of Outlaws Gumout Series in the Fred and Jo Threatt #29 “from North Dakota to Pennsylvania”. “There were only two tracks on that whole schedule that I had ever been to,” says Johnson. He motored to a fourth place finish in the points standings in the first year he ran solely 410 powered machines. He swept qualifications, his heat, the dash and the feature at Wilmot Speedway in Wisconsin, a track he had never seen before. “It was crazy,” he adds. He added a win at Benton, Missouri as well. Unfortunately, the season wasn’t the same after a crash at August’s Front Row Challenge in Oskaloosa. “I banged up my shoulder really good,” Wayne laments. “I continued to drive, but I probably shouldn’t have, we weren’t the same after that.”
After a deal fell through to race for Guy Webb with the All Stars earlier this year, Vielhauer and Johnson hooked up. “These guys are a lot of fun to be around,” says Wayne. The team consists of crew chief Billy Vielhauer, and crewmembers Donny Montgomery, Willie Burt, Lane O’Donnell and welder Arnie Summers. Beaver Drill and Tool, Sawdrill Manufacturing and Hoosier tires sponsor the team.
Johnson has driven numerous classes of sprints in different organizations. Series he’s raced in include USCS, ASCS, Gumout, NCRA, WoO and All Stars. Johnson loves the traveling series and has never been one to stick primarily to a weekly track, but he jokes, “If you race weekly, there’s not a better place to do it than Knoxville. Hey, somebody’s gotta beat McCarl!”