Bunker Hill Dragstrip
The Am-Erika-n Dream
Born into a family of drag racers that date back to her grandparents on both sides, and having a father who builds and freshens motors for many of the local drag racers, it was inevitable that Erika Johnson would grow up to have some sort of involvement in the sport of drag racing. 10 years ago at the young age of 8, which at the time was the youngest age in which a racer could get a jr. drag racing license, Erika Johnson followed in her parents and grandparents footsteps and started racing.
While Erika has seen much success over the years including many race wins (too many to count), she never committed to enter track points and race for a track championship. It was going into the 2023 season, which would be the last season that Erika was eligible to race jr. dragsters due to her age, that she decided would be the year to enter the points at Bunker Hill Dragstrip. Her main reason for wanting to enter points for her last season was for the opportunity to make the team for the IHRA bracket finals, where the top 50 Bunker Hill racers compete against the top 50 racers from other IHRA sanctioned tracks in the same division. She had heard other racers talk about how much fun the bracket finals were, and wanted to experience it for herself.
As the season got underway, it was evident that Erika, who had always been viewed by her fellow competitors as “tough to beat” was not only going to have a shot of making the bracket finals team, but also a shot at winning the 2023 Billy’s Auto Repair Jr. Dragster Championship.
When a racer enters points, suddenly there is a whole new pressure that they feel. A bad weekend can make or break the championship. Well aware of this new type of pressure, Erika tried her best not to look at the points standings during the season. She had raced for so many years without the distraction of the points, and wasn’t going to let them distract her this season either. She would even ask her parents to change the subject if they started talking about the points. Her focus was on racing and not her points position.
Erika’s strategy ultimately paid off, when she officially clinched the points championship at the last points race of the season. Winning the championship was nothing short of a dream come true. “It felt surreal,” explained Erika. “Ending my junior career on an accomplishment like that felt like a great end to that chapter in my life.”
As for her new chapter, Erika recently enrolled at Indiana University of Kokomo and is studying nursing. It was her intense college schedule, which prevented her from traveling to Mississippi to compete at the IHRA World Finals. As much as she hated to miss out on the opportunity, school is her priority, and Erika’s racing career is far from over. While her official racing plans for 2024 haven’t been set yet, she knows that next season she will be racing. She mentioned possibly racing her mom, Angie’s 68 Camaro in the All Seasons General Contracting Sportsman Class or her dad John’s 82 Camaro in the Brandt’s Heating and Cooling Modified Class. Either way, Erika is a talented racer and there is no doubt her future will consist of success both on and off the track.
Article Credit: Cori McMillen
Submitted By: Cori McMillen