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The Ole Days

Junior Johnson, Pushing the Grey Area & the Banana

Johnson won 50 Winston Cup races as a driver and 140 as a car owner.  From 1953 to 1995, Johnson and NASCAR stood nose-to-nose waiting on the other to blink first.
Big gas cans, using lighter weight metals during engine construction, cars that pushed the outer limits of legal aerodynamics... they all originated in Wilkes County, N.C. in Johnson's shop.  Leaning on knowledge gained from hauling moonshine through the mountains, his cars always seemed to have a few more horses under the hood than the competition.

In 1966, he showed up at Atlanta with a car that was supposed to be a Ford, but looked like nothing that had ever come out of Detroit.  Nicknamed "The Banana" because of its Holly Farms yellow paint scheme, it amazingly still fit into NASCAR's templates. The Banana ran one race before NASCAR told Johnson to never bring it back again.

Twenty-five years later, Johnson and crew chief Mike Beam were suspended for 12 weeks for using an illegal carburetor in Tommy Ellis's car at Charlotte.  After an appeal it was reduced to four weeks. Finally in 1995, Johnson went out in style with a $45,000 fine for using an illegal intake manifold in Brett Bodine's car at Daytona.
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