Robert Glen Johnson, Jr. (better known as Junior Johnson) was born June 28, 1931 in Wilkes County, North Carolina.
He grew up tending to the family farm and moonshine stills during the great depression. His family didn’t make moonshine in order to make a “quick buck”, they did in order to survive. Junior’s dad was known for making the best shine. Some say that making shine is in Junior’s blood and it is.
At the age of 14, Junior began delivering the family moonshine. He quickly became a moonshining and bootlegging legend by outrunning and outsmarting the local police and federal agents. Junior was never caught while running ‘shine.
He invented the now-famous “bootleg turn”, in which the bootlegger escapes the revenuers by cutting the wheel sharply to the left, dropping into a lower gear and putting the pedal to the floor. This slides the car into a 180 degree turn— which resulted in a high-stakes game of chicken between Junior and the revenuers. Junior never lost.
In 1955, Johnson decided to give up moonshining and began racing fulltime in the NASCAR series. In his first full season, he won five races and finished sixth in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National points standings.
In 1956, after winning a race in Pennsylvania and driving all night long to get back home, Junior’s dad and brother had overslept and asked him to go fire up a still. Eighteen Federal tax agents had the staked-out the still and while Junior tried to escape, there were just too many of them. Junior was convicted of moonshining and was sent to the federal prison in Chillicothe, Ohio. He served 11 months of a two-year sentence.