When you’re Bobbi Johnson, there are days when it seems as if there is little time to come up for air. If there wasn’t enough on her plate already, she areed to help a local teacher out and babysit her two-year-old child.
She thought she had signed up to assist for a four-day stretch, but it turned out she was needed for the entire school year. When the communication breakdown was discovered, in her typical fashion, Bobbi shrugged it off and said somehow she would make it work.
Then there are the normal demands of caring for her son. Jaxx is now seven years old, attending a demanding school, playing basketball, and now has a dog to call his own. Even though he is just in the first grade, his high-pressure learning environment requires plenty of homework, and thus constant supervision in the evening.
On top of all of that, there is the little matter of Jason Johnson Racing. Before the dust had settled at Charlotte, like so many who follow the World of Outlaws trail for a living, thoughts immediately turned to 2021.
“People think the season is over and it is all good,” Bobbi said, “but to me this is a stressful time. This is where you should have everybody lined up in terms of sponsors, see what you need to do to keep them happy, buy race car parts, and figure out what your budget is going to be. Some sponsors come on board and others leave, and some want their space on the car to be bigger or smaller. Then you have to do a design for the upcoming year, and when you have a driver change there is even more in the mix.”
Then there are the mundane details that are no less pressing.
“I have three vehicles that need to be washed, plus a toterhome and a T-shirt trailer. It is never ending. I have T-shirts being sold online every day, so all of this means trips to the post office, the bank, and bookwork to do. It’s never a dull day.”
Here is what makes a conversation with Bobbi so refreshing. When she explains what she confronts on a daily basis, it is as if she is laughing with every word.
Maybe it is because, in her heart, she knows she can handle it. Frankly, we all know she can handle it too.
In a sport that can wear one down physically and emotionally, it is more than just a trite saying to note that only the strong survive.
As a woman, she works and lives in a trying environment.
“This is a grueling deal,” she says. “And you are in a guy’s world. I don’t care what anyone says out there, that’s the way it is. I’m not playing the girl role like some might think, which, by the way, I think is complete crap. But it is just a different way to think, do, and handle yourself with all the things that come up.
“There is drama every day in this deal we live in, so you just have got to try to handle it in the right manner and professionally.”
Take the issue of gender completely out of this equation and just review the facts. Bobbi’s right. Just surviving the World of Outlaws grind year after year requires constant work, and an iron will. You have to be tough, and among those out there still swinging, Bobbi Johnson may well be the toughest of them all.
Johnson has suffered the cruelest of blows not once, but twice. She has faced pain that most of us can barely fathom, and somehow remains committed to sprint car racing and, even more than that, is fully engaged in life.
She has every right to be angry, bitter, and to have turned her back on a sport that has treated her so harshly.
But that’s not what she has chosen to do, because that’s not who she is.
Born to Morrell and Carolyn Meyers, Bobbi was raised right down the street from Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Speedway.
In her words, “I grew up in a racing hotbed, so we were always around it. That’s what we did on Saturday nights and Sunday. No questions asked.”
Her father worked with Maryland sprint car driver Bobby Fletcher, and later for Steve and then Stevie Smith. Bobbi’s first involvement began a bit more humbly.
“We started by picking up trash back in the day,” she said with a laugh. “Then I worked in the concession stand.”
It was more than just a job, it became a passion for her as well. Johnson would graduate from high school in 1997 and would land a good position with UPS. Then came a fateful moment. She asked for time off to attend the season-opening races in Florida and her request was denied.
Seeing no other reasonable option, she decided to quit her job.
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