NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Junior Johnson left a lasting legacy on the sport, still revered to this day. Nicknamed "The Last American Hero," Johnson won 50 races in NASCAR's premier series before becoming a six-time NASCAR Cup Series champion team owner.
One part of that legacy from his driving days is his 1963 Chevrolet Impala. Johnson won seven races during the 1963 season behind the car owned by Ray Fox.
While Johnson passed away in 2019, many of his stories live on in racing lore. Fortunately, we are able to listen to him talk about this infamous car in a video tour of the machine alongside long-time NASCAR crew chief Mike Beam, who is now Team President at Petty GMS Motorsports.
THE THIRD TURN: Junior Johnson's Career Stats
Johnson walks through the process of preparing the 1963 Chevrolet Impala for NASCAR competition. During a time where they raced truly stock cars, this car “had headlights and everything” when Johnson added it to his stable of cars!
“They’d let you take the windshield wipers off, but they wouldn’t let you take the motor out!” he said. “The windshield wipers would still work on it.”
It’s also a glimpse at how far safety has advanced since the 1960s. The race car still has the original driver's seat, straight off the assembly line. Some of Johnson's attempts to make the seat safer were even disallowed at the time.
“That’s the original car seat,” said Johnson. “I’m the one that had the first shoulder harness, and they made me take it off.”
Watch the video to see even more of this historic race car and hear Johnson's great stories about racing and building it.
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