Resilient Johnson fights on after health scares

Dick Johnson with Tim Cindric at Hidden Valley

Dick Johnson with Tim Cindric at Hidden Valley

Recent health scares and a revised position as minority owner at the team he founded have failed to dampen Dick Johnson’s enthusiasm for success in V8 Supercars.

The recent Hidden Valley meeting saw Johnson return to the V8 Supercars paddock for the first time since late March.

The 70-year-old endured a number of complications following planned knee and hip surgery that took place directly after the Symmons Plains round of the championship.

Defying the seriousness of the scares that had the five-time champion hospital bound on multiple occasions, a typically resilient Johnson dismisses the issues as mere “mechanical problems”.

Requiring further surgery later this year, Johnson is determined to travel to as many of the remaining events as possible to be a part of DJR Team Penske’s growth.

“I’ve had a knee and hip replacement over the last few years and have had a couple of revisits on those,” Johnson told of his recent trials.

“There’s been a some complications with blood clots, internal bleeding and haematomas and a couple of dislocations.

“But they’re only mechanical problems, so it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. When the time is right, I’ll get the Rolls-Royce (improved hip replacement) put in.

“It hasn’t been a lot of fun but people go through those issues in life and I’m just fortunate to have good people around me.”

Johnson retained approximately 20 percent ownership of DJRTP following the majority buy-in from Team Penske, sitting alongside fellow minority owners Steve Brabeck and Ryan Story.

Although relieved of the financial pressures of the business, Johnson still attends the office most days and is an integral part of the squad’s marketing programs.

While poor on-track form and Marcos Ambrose’s shock decision to step down from driving made for a tumultuous start to the year, Johnson is encouraged by where the team is heading.

“Things are different, but as far as I’m concerned there’s a lot more stability and purity,” said Johnson of the new regime.

“That in itself is a huge relief and it’s a matter of getting everything organised and having the right people in place, which will come in due course.

“This game never gets easier and a lot of people don’t realise just how competitive it is.

“It’s not just about adding resources. You’ve just got to do things in the right areas that give you the right results.

“The Penske guys are very professional at what they do and have clearly picked up the level of presentation.

“To them, right at the top of the list is presentation, and once you get that right everything else follows.”

Johnson gave a firm “not at all” when asked if he’s considering stepping away from the team entirely in the coming years.

“I always miss it (when I’m not at the track),” he said.

“It’s something that I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life and I expect that the DJR and Team Penske names will remain together forever.”

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