PHOTO: Dick Johnson (76), son Steven (46) and grandson Jett (16) will attend the Historic Leyburn Sprints. Jett will drive this Ford Escort in the Juniors competition (Pics: Trapnell Creations).
LEYBURN (Queensland) - Motorsport icon Dick Johnson will make his annual return to the Historic Leyburn Sprints next week, but it will be a family affair as he supports his grandson Jett’s bid to win a prestigious trophy.
Third-generation racer Jett, 16, will compete for the Ann Collins Memorial Junior Award, which aims to encourage young drivers and will be presented for the third year at the postponed 25th anniversary Sprints on 11-12 September.
Drivers aged between 14 and 17 and in cars of no more than 2.0 litres’ capacity will compete on their ability to match a target time around the 1.0 kilometre street course, rather than on outright speed.
The Juniors will be among up to 200 drivers of historic, classic and late-model performance cars in a packed weekend of competition and motoring entertainment at the Historic Leyburn Sprints, which were postponed from their original date of 21-22 August.
“Grandpa” Dick Johnson, 76, will attend the Sprints in an official role as a Leyburn Legend, one of a number of senior or retired drivers honoured every year for their contributions to motorsport. Johnson won five Australian Touring Car Championships and three Bathurst 1000 races with his Ford team and was chosen as one of 150 Queensland icons for the State’s 150th celebrations in 2009.
But along with Jett’s dad Steven, 46, and other family members, at Leyburn he’ll also be keeping an experienced eye on the youngest member of the Johnson racing dynasty and his fledgling career behind the wheel.
Jett might not need much help to set a fast time in his borrowed Ford Escort. He’s made excellent progress since his Leyburn debut in a humble Hyundai in 2019, recently claiming his maiden race win - and four-straight across the meeting - in a 525 horsepower Ford Mustang in the TA2 Racing series.
“It felt incredible to take that chequered flag and to have my Grandpa here and my whole family here to watch means so much to me,” Jett said after the win.
The Ann Collins Memorial Junior Award was named after the late, former Sprints President Ann Collins, whose goal was to encourage young people in motorsport.
Other weekend attractions will include Australia’s oldest racing car, the 1922 Wikner Ford Special, the race-winning 2008 Ford Fusion NASCAR of Australian star Marcos Ambrose, vintage caravans and a spectacular Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine display of more than 100 cars (Sunday only), plus country markets and trade displays. Spectators can win a hot lap in a racing car.
Competition will start at 8am on both days. Adult ticket prices – unchanged for more than five years – will be $20 for Saturday or Sunday or $30 for the weekend. Children aged under 14 enter free and street parking is free. Power TV Australia will live-stream the entire event via its free mobile app and the Sprints website.
Leyburn is around 60 kms north-west of Warwick and 220 kms from Brisbane.
The Queensland Government’s Queensland Destination Events Program and the Southern Downs Regional Council provide financial assistance to help promote the Sprints and attract visitors to the Southern Downs region. This event also has been proudly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).