Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Coorparoo, Brisbane, and I lived in the area for many years. I went to Coorparoo state school, then went to Brisbane Grammar school for a couple of terms before going to Cavendish high school, leaving in year ten and got an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner – which I hated.
2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?
Twelve – I wanted to race cars
Eighteen – I wanted to still race cars
Thirty – Racing cars and still trying to break it into the big time
At eighteen I never, ever thought that I would be racing a Ford. I was a staunch Holden person, but when the opportunity arose where someone else would pay the bills and I could continue to race, I couldn’t refuse Ford – it changed my mind very quickly.
4. What were that were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
1. The assassination of JFK – I can still remember what I was doing the day he was assasinated – It was early in the day and I heard it on the radio, went to tell my mother and she didn’t believe me. I believed in his ideals – I’m not a political person but we shared a similar outlook on many things.
2. When my father passed away due to emphysema, it made me determined to never smoke again. And to this day, I have never picked up a cigarette.
3. After I left the army in 1967, it made me realise I wasn’t someone who could work for another person and still have the ability to earn enough to support my passion for motor racing. From that day on, I’ve run my own businesses, been my own boss, and have been at the helm of a successful team. The army taught me a lot about teamwork, which I’ve implemented in to the running of my team, from the ground up.
5. Considering the other avenues open to you to tell your story, why did you choose to write a book?
You can delete a screen, but books you can put on your shelf and display. At any time, you can pull it off the shelf and re-read, and it’s a constant reminder of the story. I prefer the feel of a book – you just can’t get the same physical reaction to an eBook or computer screen.
It’s a look at my life on and off the racetrack. Previous books have focused more on the cars, and this focuses more on the journey life has taken me on, from the highs to the extreme lows, and everything else along the way.
(From the publisher: Ford legend Johnson did not get his break in motorsport until he was famously smashed out by a rock in the 1980 Bathurst 1000. But true to his never-say-die attitude, he went on to establish one of Australia’s most successful V8 Supercar teams, amidst a dramatic career that, on many occasions, almost saw him lose his home, his team and even his life.
Through intimate revelations and blistering accounts of the motor racing industry, Johnson reveals the incredible strength and commitment it took to win three Bathurst titles and a record five Australian Touring Car Championships in a remarkable career spanning almost 50 years.)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
I want the people who are younger than me who read this book learn to not make the same mistakes I did – to be careful who they trust in life.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
My wife for putting up with me for so many years – she’s supported my dream every step of the way and I couldn’t have done it without her.
To leave a legacy that will leave my family in a comfortable situation, and provides a good future for my grandchildren.
10. What advice do you give to anyone looking to write a book?
I think the most important thing for any writer is to make sure they are comfortable with the research they do, and ensure it’s completely accurate.
Dick, thank you for playing.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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