RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson met fans at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, and says he credits illegal moonshine to everything he has accomplished.
Fans lined up to meet Johnson at the museum. Many wanted autographs or pictures, but one fan wanted to see if Johnson remembered her father.
Valerie Blettner says her father worked for the ATF, and was one of a handful of people involved in arresting Johnson for illegal moonshining.
Before Johnson every started professionally racing, he was out-running the law in souped-up cars loaded with gallons of illegal moonshine on North Carolina back roads.
“I knew I had a fast car and I was a good driver and the police couldn’t drive a peg into the ground,” said Johnson.
For years he outran ATF officers, known as revenuers, in his souped-up cars. Johnson says it was a good life.
And Johnson was never caught on the road, but eventually the federal revenuers did catch up with him. Blettner’s father and several other ATF agents found the Johnson’s family moonshine mill while Johnson was working one morning.
Johnson was sentenced to two years behind bars but said he served a little less than half and got out on parole. Johnson says when he got out, he was done with moonshining.
Racing cars he says was the obvious transition.
“Easy because I already had an experience driving those liquor cars,” he said.
Decades later, Johnson is a Hall of Fame driver and team owner – thanks to illegal moonshine, he said. And now his father’s recipe that created Johnson’s life story can easily be picked up at most ABC stores.