LUCAMA, NC – Former NASCAR driver Jerick Johnson is racing to increase awareness of the POW/MIA issue and educate younger Americans.
Johnson, 37, has competed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Racing Series. As he heads to Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday, he does so with a mission to continue raising awareness and education younger Americans about American military combat forces who were held as Prisoners of War or deemed Missing in action.
“When we did NASCAR XFINITY Series stuff in 2006, we had American Legion on board, which is one of the largest veteran’s organizations,” Johnson said. “We turned that into the POW/MIA Freedom 76 car which is what we race right now. Our mission is more than just racing, we go to schools, parades, shopping centers and wherever we can just to educate our youth what POW/MIA means. People younger age don’t get that. We have wristbands that we hand out.”
Johnson has fielded the “Freedom Car” at Southern National Motorsports Park for Jake Spillers and has also fielded cars for Ryan Millington at Hickory Motor Speedway. This weekend, with other tracks throughout the country cancelling races due to weather, Johnson will be in the car at Southern National.
“We were thinking about going elsewhere and they rained out,” Johnson said. “Last year, I brought Jake Spillers to Southern National in our car, so we’re deciding to stay close to home this weekend.”
While many drivers have raced since they were kids, Johnson didn’t start racing until he was already an adult.
“My dad owns some racetracks in Minnesota and Missouri and promoted Enduro races,” Johnson explained. “I played high school football, so my first time in a car, I didn’t get in a car until I was 20 and helping my dad at his track in Missouri. He paved it and wanted to add more cars and that’s the first time I got in one. We ended up winning the track championship at Mizzou Speedway and started chasing races. We moved to [Mooresville, North Carolina] to get into it. I’ve run XFINITY and stuff for start and park. It never panned out so we went back to Super Late Model Racing.”
Once he got back into Super Late Model racing, he had success before ultimately deciding to be a crew chief and mentor for others.
“In 2009, we won that ASA Rookie of the Year deal and, in 2011, we had eight wins,” Johnson continued. “Since then, I’ve been helping people like Millington and Spillers, crew chiefing and letting them run my cars. I get in it when I can.”
Another reason Johnson is excited to race in a Pro Late Model at Southern National is because it is close to home for one of his primary sponsors, MyComputer Career, which is based out of Raleigh, North Carolina.
“MyComputer Career is a big reason we get to race,” Johnson remarked. “They’re one of our main sponsors so it always helps when we’re over there. They’re big supporters of ours.”
Johnson’s POW/MIA Freedom Car will be in action in the Fast Five Pro Late Model Series feature race, which is the headline race in Saturday night’s Springfest 300. Late Model Stock Cars, Chargers, Mini Stocks, Legends and Bandoleros will also be in action. The green flag flies on Saturday’s Springfest 300 at 7pm.
For more information about Southern National Motorsports Park, check out SNMP’s website at www.snmpark.com, “like” Southern National Motorsports Park on Facebook or “follow” @SNM_Park on Twitter.