Chattanooga Racing History: Joe Lee Johnson

Thursday, August 28, 2014 - by Steve Hixson

Joe Lee Johnson began racing in Chattanooga at the Alton Park and Warner Park Speedways in the 1950's. Born in Cowpens, South Carolina on Sept. 11, 1929, he moved to Tennessee living and maintaining a garage close to these tracks.

He began to run select NASCAR races from 1956 through 1962 and broke into what is now the "Sprint Cup" series in 1957. On June 6, 1954 at Lakewood Speedway (in Atlanta), he was victorious and nearly won many more at the Fairgrounds track. He gave every driver a challenge that raced against him and he was victorious at many other southern tracks where he became a dominating force. In 1957 he raced in the Daytona Beach Road Course, he won twice in Charlotte and also won the "Nashville 300" in 1959.

Driving in the NASCAR Grand National division he won the inaugural World 600 in 1960. He was a pioneer in the early days of NASCAR. Johnson also competed in the NASCAR Convertible Division in both 1958 and 1959, taking a pair of victories in 16 starts. In 1959 He was the NASCAR Convertible Division Champion and held numerous other racing titles. He made his last NASCAR start in 1962.

He was the owner of Cleveland Speedway in Cleveland Tennessee, where he and his wife Jean watched their son Ronnie develop into one of the Top Dirt Late Model racers of his generation and eventually a two-time Dirt Track World Champion.

Joe Lee passed away on May 26, 2005, with cancer. He was a Chattanoogan and a racing legend. He has no relation to NASCAR racer/former car owner Junior Johnson or to current multi-NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson. Remanents of Johnson's historical World 600 trophy from Charlotte Motor Speedway were confined to the Press Box building of the Cleveland Speedway which was sold at absolute auction this past July.


UTC's Chamblin Second In 800 Meter at Emory Classic

- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior Hannah Chamblin (Memphis, Tenn.) took second in the 800 meter run Saturday at the Emory Classic in Atlanta, Ga.   “Hannah had great positioning throughout the race,” Chattanooga head coach Andy Meyer said. “She passed about four [runners] in the last 150 meters.   “Abby’s race was good for her as a freshman. She was ... (click for more)

UTC Women Win 5-2 Over Western Carolina

  The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's tennis team scored a 5-2 win at Western Carolina today. The Mocs improve to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in Southern Conference action with today's win.  UTC won the doubles point, and the first three singles matches, to quickly clinch the team win.  WCU dropped to 11-7 overall and 0-3 in SoCon action. Senior ... (click for more)

2 Shot On Rawlings Street Friday Night; 1 In Critical Condition

Two people were shot, Friday night, and one is in critical condition. At approximately  9:56 p.m.  Chattanooga Police officers responded to the 2000 block of Rawlings Street on a report of a person shot. Officers arrived on scene and located one victim lying next to a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. A second victim arrived at a local hospital suffering from ... (click for more)

Car Crashes Into Motel 6 In Dalton; Driver, 17, Admits To Texting While Driving

The Dalton Police Department and Dalton Fire Department responded Saturday morning to a crash at the Motel 6 at Highway 41 and Tibbs Road. The driver of the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix involved left the roadway and crashed into the Motel 6 building causing severe damage to one of the rooms. There were no major injuries. Investigators believe texting while driving was a contributing ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret - And Response

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Geno: Our ‘Me’ Culture

By almost every measure, Geno Auriemma is the best basketball coach in America. His University of Connecticut women are riding a record 109-game winning streak that dates to Nov. 17, 2016. Stanford barely beat them in overtime 3 years ago, but, before that, they won 41 straight. That means UConn is 153-1 and, in the current 109 streak, they have double-figure wins over the opponents ... (click for more)