Jason Johnson was determined to carve out a path in Sprint Car Racing. Every step of the way in his career he displayed dedication to the sport. Eventually, he worked his way to the opportunity to start his own team. Powered by passion and founded on principles of professionalism, Jason Johnson Racing was born in 2010.

The team continues to operate based on the foundation Johnson laid as they’ve become one of the sport’s powerhouses with Philip and Brooke Dietz in ownership and Carson Macedo driving. And this Saturday at Arrowhead Speedway, they’ll look to honor Johnson by topping the Jason Johnson Classic.

With Johnson holding his team to a high standard, success came right away. The 2010 American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) championship belonged to Johnson. The JJR #41 took a total of 19 trips to Victory Lane during its debut season.

For almost the entire time Johnson raced, his cousin – Philip Dietz – was right alongside him on the mechanical side. There were times early in Johnson’s career when Dietz slept on the floor to have the opportunity to join his cousin at the racetrack. Even though Dietz was with Kasey Kahne Racing when JJR came to life, he recalls how Johnson designed his team for success.

“He set the bar pretty high years ago,” Dietz said. “In his early days, he worked for some pretty reputable teams, one being Steve Kinser Racing. How they ran their team and everything they did during that time; Jason took notes of it all.  When that opportunity came to start up his own team, he applied a lot of those same things. He was obviously very particular about the cleanliness of all the gear and having everything look nice and professional to represent our sponsors the best way possible. And on top of that, there was a lot of effort that went into performance and never being content with settling for anything other than being a contender.”

The team philosophy led to continued success for Johnson throughout the team’s early years. He reeled off three consecutive ASCS championships from 2012 through 2014. And then Johnson decided to take the step to the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars in 2015.

An injury at Placerville disrupted Johnson’s first season, but in March of 2016 he tasted redemption when he scored JJR’s first World of Outlaws win as a team at none other than Placerville. Later that year, Johnson summited Sprint Car Racing’s mountaintop with a thrilling Knoxville Nationals win and delivered five words that’ll echo forever, “Shit, I wanted to win!”

Johnson went on to tally two more wins in 2016 and added another six over the next year and a half before his tragic passing in June of 2018.

Philip Dietz surveys the front of the Jason Johnson Racing #41
Jason Johnson’s cousin – Philip Dietz – continues to lead JJR just like Jason would want (Trent Gower Photo)

But that night would not signal the end of Jason Johnson Racing. His family wouldn’t allow it. They wanted to keep Johnson’s legacy going on the racetrack just how he would’ve preferred. His wife – Bobbi – continued to field the car as they hired Carson Macedo to finish out 2018. Right off the bat, Macedo took the #41 to Victory Lane at Knoxville Raceway in his 360 Nationals Preliminary Night.

“I could see it right away in 2018 when I came and drove for Philip and Bobbi, who at the time was the owner of the team,” Macedo recalled. “It was clear cut. They were just professional. Phil was just on top of his game. You could tell their car was just sound every time in hit the racetrack. Phil’s attention to detail was extraordinary. It was just a mold I fit into so easily.”

Throughout the entire existence of JJR, the team has prioritized representing their sponsors in the best way possible. Mesilla Valley Transportation has been a longtime supporter, and Royal Jones – company CEO – has found it incredibly easy to work with them and been impressed by their professionalism and dedication.

“It was easy from the start when I first met Jason,” Jones said. “He walked in my office. I’d never met him. He gave me a proposal to sponsor him for the next year. I got to know him that way. He was just so sincere, so honest, and just down to earth and always trying to do the right thing. I couldn’t help but take a liking to him, so we sponsored him the next couple years in ASCS until he moved onto the Outlaws.

“When he was going to go to the Outlaws, he brought me sheets of what he thought it was going to cost and how he was going to do things. It was like, ‘Wow, these are quite the proposals. You could be working for me getting me business.’ This guy had it all down to a science. He was just so amazing in how he looked at it. You could just tell he was going to be successful.”

When 2018 came to a close, Macedo had already inked a deal to drive for Kyle Larson Racing with the World of Outlaws in 2019. That opened the door for JJR to bring David Gravel aboard for the next two years. Gravel pieced together a strong pair of seasons that saw him bag 19 Series wins including the 2019 Knoxville Nationals.

“They’re a great family,” Gravel said. “I love Jason’s parents. They’re really good people. Phil’s a good guy. Bobbi is a hard-working person. They built something from really nothing. They didn’t have much, and they’ve kind of built a little empire over there and it’s still going today. I definitely had two great years of racing over there.”

Gravel’s departure for Big Game Motorsports presented the opportunity for Macedo to rejoin the team, and it’s been a wildly successful reunion. The Lemoore, CA native collected 11 checkered flags in 2021 and repeated the feat in 2022. He added another seven wins in 2023 and put together his third consecutive third place finish in the standings. Overall, Jason Johnson Racing now sits at 60 World of Outlaws victories, and Macedo is responsible for half.

The time with JJR continues to be a dream come true for Macedo who grew up with one goal in mind – becoming a World of Outlaws driver.

“I’m with a team that has really good, faithful people behind it,” Macedo said. “Philip is a great guy. He’s a good person. He’s a loyal person. I see the same thing in all the sponsors and partners that are part of the team. It just makes me happy. It makes me thankful for what I have every day. I just couldn’t be more appreciative to be a part of JJR, a team that has a lot of history behind it because of what Jason started.”

Jason Johnson Racing celebrates their recent win at Kennedale Speedway Park
A recent victory at Kennedale marked the 60th for Jason Johnson Racing and Macedo’s 30th since joining the team (Trent Gower Photo)

What Jason started continues to live on. Led by Dietz, the current version of JJR continues to carry the spirit of Johnson by upholding his standards and competing at the highest level. And they have no plans of slowing down as they chase Johnson’s goal of bringing a World of Outlaws title to his race team.

“It’s very important to us to carry on the JJR legacy and represent the team no different than how Jason would want it done,” Dietz said. “Our goal in 2015, when we first signed up with the Outlaws, was to run top 10. We knew that it was going to be a challenging year, and we were faced with so many different things between the engines and wing package.

“As time went on, we kept bumping our goals up more and more. I think the following year we were hoping to at least win three or five races, which we accomplished. Nowadays, if we don’t win at least five races a year we’re kind of disappointed. It’s pretty amazing that we hit 60 wins the other weekend. It’s very special to me to keep this team up front, keep it competitive. Hopefully, we can continue that on for many years and win many more races.”

Macedo and the team continue their championship pursuit this weekend at Osborn, MO’s US 36 Raceway on April 5 before the Jason Johnson Classic at Colcord, OK’s Arrowhead Speedway on April 6. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.