50 Years of Pro Stock salute: ‘The Professor’ gave lessons in Gainesville dominance

Throughout 2020, NHRA will be celebrating 50 Years of Pro Stock with special exhibitions and features at national events and showcasing the long history of the class on its media channels. Prior to each event on the 2020 schedule, NHRA National Dragster will focus on one Pro Stock moment from the history of the event. This week: Gainesville.
Warren Johnson

With 97 career victories, Warren Johnson remains Pro Stock’s all-time wins leader, and his domination of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals certainly plays a huge part in that total.

There aren’t many events where the sport’s biggest winner, 151-time victor John Force, isn’t also the winningest racer, but the Gatornationals is one of them. W.J. has won the Florida classic a record nine times, one more than Force. Johnson also is far and away the winningest Pro Stock driver in the event’s history with more than double the four wins apiece owned by Greg Anderson and Jason Line.

Johnson’s success at Gainesville Raceway extends back to his earliest days in the class. His first final-round appearance in his NHRA racing career came at the event in 1976, when he was runner-up to Larry Lombardo in Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins’ Monza.

Although Johnson wouldn’t win a national event at any venue until 1982, once he began winning, he never looked back.

He won the Gatornationals for the first time in 1984, defeating Frank Iaconio in the final, then won it again the following year, defeating class icon Bob Glidden for the title.


In the early 1990s, class was most definitely in session with “The Professor of Pro Stock” as W.J. won the race four straight years, 1991-94, with the 1992 and 1993 wins serving as a springboard to his first two world championships.

After missing the crown for a few years, he won it three straight times, 1998-2000, with his 1998 and 1999 wins playing crucial roles in championships both of those seasons as well.

In his nine victories, Johnson defeated eight different final-round opponents — Iaconio, Glidden, Darrell Alderman, Jerry Eckman, Larry Morgan, Jim Yates, son Kurt Johnson, and Troy Coughlin — with only two-time world champ Alderman coming back for more schooling, falling to Johnson in 1991 and 1994 to bookend W.J.’s four-year reign