Junior Johnson, moonshiner turned NASCAR legend, dies at 88

Sports

Courtesy: NASCAR Twitter

Robert Glenn “Junior” Johnson, the moonshine runner turned NASCAR driver, died Friday at the age of 88.

Johnson’s passing was confirmed by NASCAR. He had been in declining health and entered hospice care earlier this week.

The winner of 50 races as a driver and 132 as an owner, he was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.

Johnson was described as “The Last American Hero” by author Tom Wolfe in a 1965 article for Esquire.

Born in 1931, he became known simply as “Junior” as the fourth of seven children.

Johnson began driving at age 8, long before he had a license.

He honed his driving skills running moonshine through the North Carolina hills, a crime for which he received a federal conviction in 1956 and a full presidential pardon in 1986 from President Ronald Reagan.

He’s credited with inventing the Bootleg Turn, a maneuver that spins the car into a quick 180-degree turn and sends it speeding off in the opposite direction.

Johnson is survived by wife Lisa, daughter Meredith and son Robert Glenn Johnson III.

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