Former Top Fuel, Funny Car racer "Gentleman Hank" Johnson passes away

10 Apr 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Hank Johnson

“Gentleman Hank” Johnson, one of the Northwest’s best nitro racers, passed away April 8 after a battle with cancer. He was 74.

Johnson, who began racing fuel dragsters in 1964 with a Chevy-powered rail, and partner Jim Dailey progressed along with the class throughout the decade and reached the pinnacle of its success with his victory at the 1971 NHRA Supernationals at Ontario Motor Speedway, in what was his first official NHRA start.

Hank JohnsonJohnson, who was given his famous nickname by John Jelvick, owner of Mr. Auto Suppy, his longtime sponsor, twice finished in NHRA’s Top 10 points standings in Top Fuel, including a career-best eighth in 1977.

Johnson transitioned to Funny Cars after that and although he did not enjoy the same success on the national tail, nonetheless was an outstanding racer on the Northwest match-race trail.

After crashing his nitro Funny Car in 1982, Johnson switched to Alcohol Funny Car and enjoyed greater success, scoring a runner-up at the 1983 U.S. Nationals and a victory at the 1984 Winternationals.

He retired from racing in 1986 to concentrate on his business but has been a regular on the nostalgia racing scene, taking part in numerous Cacklefests with his restored Dailey & Johnson dragster and assisting Bucky Austin on his Nostalgia Funny Car.

Services will be held Sunday, 23 April, at Glen Eagle Golf Course in Arlington Wash.