Wayne and Adam the Bear are more than excited in Montana (ASCS Photo)
(Bill W) July 12, 2017 – Wayne Johnson got up close and a little too personal with a grizzly bear at last weekend’s Grizzly Nationals at Gallatin Speedway near Belgrade, Montana. Wayne swept the weekend and got a visit from “Adam” the grizzly bear in Victory Lane each night. The Oklahoma City driver and the Two-C Racing #2c team is ready for another Lucas Oil ASCS doubleheader this weekend at Black Hills Speedway near Rapid City, South Dakota.
Since the team detected a problem with their car after their visit to Washington’s Skagit Speedway, things have gone a lot smoother. “We found that bent racecar a couple weeks ago, and our car is absolutely awesome,” says Wayne. “We drew the back of the heat and ran up to third on Friday. Bud (Johnson) drew the one for the feature, and you’re supposed to win if you draw the pole.”
Wayne did just that in the prelim. “It was rubber-down, but the car ran really well,” he says. “That locked us into Saturday’s feature and we drew a four. The track was going to rubber again, and I was a little worried. The guy there did a heck of a job in doing everything he could with the track. He did a good job, but it was so hot and windy.”
He would have to work to get the lead. “I had a shot at getting to the lead right away,” says Wayne. “Kelly Miller bobbled a little and I thought we were going to crash. We were chasing Gio Scelzi, who is a great young racer by the way, and he got a little anxious in lapped traffic. He left the rubber, and that’s how we got the lead. It was good to get a couple of wins. It was a real shot in the arm for us.”
Wayne is looking forward to the next month. “I’m excited for what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks,” he says. “We’re catching our stride at the right time. We’ll run Black Hills Speedway this weekend, and then head for Knoxville through the Nationals.”
Both nights meant meeting with the grizzly in Victory Lane. “I went to Yellowstone last year and saw where the grizzlies clawed into the trees,” says Wayne. “It was like two inches. That thing can kill you in a second. What I was really scared about the first night, was the track had been rubber-down and the tire was bald! If that tire pops like a balloon, he’s going to eat everybody, starting with the closest one! That was me.”
Wayne wasn’t taking any chances. “The guy (tamer) said he wasn’t going to do anything,” he says. “That’s what Steve Irwin said, and Siegfried and Roy. I wasn’t going to get close enough to find out. I ain’t moving either. If you need to play dead, I’m going to play super-dead. They put a little electric fence out there, but I touched it. It wasn’t on!”
His outlook changed a bit before the second night. “Some old guy in the pits said, ‘You know Johnson, you don’t need to be scared of that bear,” says Wayne. “You just need to outrun somebody.’ I looked around on the straightaway, and I knew I could run past a few of those guys. So that made me feel better.”
Perhaps Wayne’s angle in his exit also helped his nerves on Saturday. “I came around the other direction on Saturday (pointing the car towards turn four),” he says. “I felt better about running to my right than my left. It’s a cool deal though. It’s a great event, and they do a great job with it there. It was packed with fans. I’m glad we get to do that trip. We sold a lot of t-shirts, and I’m out of hero cards.”
Link to the Victory Lane Video of Man and Bear (notice the flag man getting behind the top wing)…
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Wayne was a winner in 2011 on July 13 at the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Oregon with the ASCS-Northwest series. After starting third, he would take the lead quickly and never look back. Kyle Larson was second, ahead of Tim Crawley, Roger Crockett and Seth Bergman.
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Photo: Wayne and Adam the Bear are more than excited in Montana (ASCS Photo)
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