Twenty-five years ago, Blaine Johnson, brother of Scrappers Racing tuning consultant Alan Johnson, won his final race in Top Fuel at Sonoma Raceway. Blaine beat Kenny Bernstein in the final round and unforgettably stopped the car on the end of the track, hopped out, and celebrated joyously.
This weekend, the Scrappers Racing Top Fuel Dragster has donned the Travers Tool blue and gold scheme as a tribute to the car Blaine drove to victory. The original artwork was created and painted by Circus Paint; the recreation was executed by Brandon Baker of Baker Design. The back of the rear wing displays, “Champions Flight XXV.” That was the name proudly decaled on the rear wing of every one of Alan’s team cars in the years following Blaine’s death to pay tribute to him and to keep his memory alive. “XXV” represents the 25-year anniversary of that win at Sonoma.
Brian Husen, the team’s crew chief, has worked alongside Alan for eighteen seasons. Husen started as a crew member working on Tony Schumacher’s Army car in 2003 and progressively took on more responsibilities and learned more about tuning Top Fuel cars in the early 2010s when Alan started his own racing team with Al-Anabi backing. Eventually, Husen earned the title of crew chief and to this day is mentored by Alan in the art of championship drag racing. The pair have won nine championships together.
In 2019, Husen was hired by Mike Salinas to tune the Scrappers Racing Top Fuel dragster and working for an independent racer presented the possibility of doing a tribute car for Blaine, an idea Husen had thought of that year. In 2018, Salinas ran the English Leather scheme of Tom “Mongoose” McEwen, so a new tribute car wasn’t out of the question.
Separately, Melanie Johnson, Alan’s daughter, had been thinking of a special Father’s Day gift and the idea of a tribute car had crossed her mind but everything came together this season when she spoke with Husen after Friday night qualifying in Epping, N.H.- the race that Alan tuned remotely from Santa Maria, Calif. That time without Alan’s presence, provided the opportunity for Husen and Melanie to freely discuss their ideas and come up with a way to keep the car a surprise.
After putting together a complete vision for this tribute car, Husen and Melanie got the go-ahead from Salinas. From that point, there were two weeks of collaboration between Husen, Melanie and the rest of Johnson family including Alan’s sister Pamela, and mother Agnes. Scrappers Racing also reached out to Travers Tool Co. for their input and received full support to use their namesake on the tribute car.
Thursday evening, Alan and Melanie arrived at Sonoma Raceway to view the car privately. The Scrappers Racing Top Fuel crew had unloaded the car earlier in the day and parked it inside one of the onsite garages and secretly transferred the pre-wrapped body panels from the spare car to the race car. Before the car is officially debuted on Friday, the only people who have seen it are the Johnson’s and the crew members. Melanie touched on the reveal, “it was especially important to me that my dad got to see the car before any other teams or fans. And I know the crew is so honored and excited to run this car knowing how special it is for him and our whole family. Those guys respect my dad so much and to be part of this will be so memorable for all of them. Thank you to everyone who helped us recreate the car.”