Jimmie Johnson represents the new generation of auto racers who are drawing new fans to the sport. Like many of his contemporaries, he was introduced to the world of racing at a young age. From those early beginnings, he has risen to become a popular face in a sport that was once stereotyped as blue-collar entertainment.
Jimmie Kenneth Johnson was born on September 17, 1975 in El Cajon, California. When he was only five years old, he began racing motorcycles and won the 60cc class championship at eight years old. Eventually, he began racing four wheels, competing in a number of off-road leagues, including SODA, SCORE International and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group. During his stint in this sporting arena, he amassed more than 25 wins and was named Rookie of the Year in all three leagues.
Johnson became a member of the American Speed Association circuit in 1998, earning 4th place and winning Rookie of the Year. At the same time, he joined the NASCAR Busch Series, entering three events. He participated in both leagues concurrently in 1999. Eventually, he would concentrate on the Busch Series.
In 2000, Johnson was a driver with Herzog Motorsports, finishing 10th in points and getting third place as Rookie of the Year. His only Busch Series win came in 2001 at the Hills Brothers Coffee 300. This period of his career was marked by a few incidents that could have derailed his career. He was in danger of losing the support of Herzog because they were on the verge of Alltel sponsorship. He also had an on-track accident, which he left unscathed.
In 2002, Johnson began his career as a NASCAR Cup series driver. He went on to win three races in his rookie year, including two races at Dover International Speedway. He was the only rookie to accomplish this feat. Although he amassed the most points for a rookie that year, he was second place for the Rookie of the Year award. The next year, he earned three point race victories at the Coca-Cola 600 and the New England 300 and the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire International Speedway.
Johnson had a slow start at the beginning of the 2004 season but found his stride in the 5th week, winning the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Pocono 500. He had a setback, however, with a 37th place finish at Talladega and a 32nd place finish at Kansas. He had a second comeback that year with wins at the UAW-GM Quality 500, the Subway 500. His Subway victory was bittersweet, though, because the team owner's son, other family members, the chief engine builder and others were killed in a plane crash on their way to the race. In the following years, he would have strong finishes the majority of the races he entered.
Jimmie Johnson is married and maintains a strong connection to the San Diego area.