After a six-year relationship, Team Johnson Motorsports and The American Legion parted ways Dec. 31 after their contract expired.
“It has been a wonderful experience,” said Jerick Johnson, driver for the iconic American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car. “Regardless where racing takes me, I will always cherish my years driving the Freedom Car.
“We at Team Johnson Motorsports have been privileged to carry The American Legion emblem on our race cars across the country and humbled by the grassroots support bestowed us by the Legion family from California to Virginia, Minnesota to Florida, and the many states between. It has been an awesome ride. I will miss it. We all will miss it.”
The decision to not ink a new contract was amicable and mutual, said car owner Jack Johnson.
“It takes money to field a competitive race car – a lot of money,” Johnson said. “Our contract with The American Legion stipulated that we could use The American Legion Emblem for marketing purposes but that we would receive no other financial support from the national organization. Unfortunately, we were not able to continue to field a competitive race team within the confines of the contract.”
The race team and national Legion leadership agreed it was untenable to provide direct financial support to the Legion Racing program.
“We are the world’s largest veterans organization,” said Jack Querfeld, director of The American Legion Internal Affairs Division. “Our primary focus and responsibility is to support our nation’s veterans and their families.
“Jerick Johnson has been a powerful spokesman for The American Legion, and the racing program has introduced the Legion to thousands of race fans across the country. But from the beginning we knew we could not justify direct financial support to a racing program when our resources must focus on veterans’ issues.”
The Johnsons were perfect American Legion spokespersons, Querfeld said. “Jack is a Legionnaire, his wife, Debby, is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, and Jerick is a Sons of The American Legion member,” he said. “They personify what is great about America and understand the challenges facing veterans. They have enthusiastically carried the Legion message to scores of communities and thousands of race fans across the country – for which we will forever be grateful.”
Team Johnson Motorsports is not leaving racing. Jerick Johnson will drive the POW/MIA Freedom Car during the 2012 season. Johnson is scheduled to compete in the 2012 Speedfest Jan. 27-29 at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga.
Team Johnson Motorsports will continue to serve veterans across the country with their POW/MIA Freedom Car National Tour.
“We have received a great amount of enthusiasm from our veteran supporters across the country and are excited to bring a new twist to the Freedom Car,” Jack Johnson said. “The POW/MIA cause is something that is very important to all veterans, and we will continue to show our support for those that have served our country – including Legion members – by carrying the POW/MIA logo on all of our race cars.”
The Johnsons also are taking applications for their startup school, Stock Car Tech, a nine-month hands-on curriculum to introduce students to the racing world and to give them skills to work for a race team and/or build, repair or setup their own race car.
The new 20,000 sq. ft. facility will give participants the equipment and ability to work hand-in-hand with the Team Johnson Motorsports Freedom Cars, said Jerick Johnson, who has also committed to helping young drivers pursue their careers in racing by giving driver development opportunities within Stock Car Tech.
Information regarding Stock Car Tech can be found at www.StockCarTech.net.
Legionnaires can keep up to date with results of future POW/MIA Freedom Car races and get information on how to schedule a Freedom Car appearance at www.freedomcar.org.