JIMMIE AND GARY Johnson
After a long day at the track, Jimmie Johnson often tells his father exactly where he can go—and Gary Johnson always responds with a nod and a smile. Hired by Jimmie to drive his motor coach to each Winston Cup event, Gary, a former truck driver, considers his gig the best job in auto racing, better even than being a young, famous NASCAR driver, as his son is. "It's just so good to be around Jimmie," says Gary, whose son took up racing as a boy in El Cajon, Calif. "If he ever needs a hug or a pat on the back, I can give that to him."
Gary: "Jimmie was always a good kid. I worked him hard when he was young, but he always did his chores. He never got into big trouble..."
Jimmie: (interrupting) "...at least none you found out about. Our family did everything together. On weekends we'd ride motorcycles or Jet Skis. We'd also travel the country so that I could compete in races. I spent the week just trying to get through school, looking forward to the weekend. I couldn't wait to find out what cool place we were going to go that weekend."
Gary: "We always had a good time back then. And we still do. Driving for him means I get to go from track to track. I couldn't have stood to watch his races on television—that would have driven me crazy. Now the best part of the weekend is being with my son and going to the winner's circle. There's nothing better than that."