Feature Article, Other Motorsports, Washington — November 11, 2004 at 4:47 pm

Krista Johnson (issue 62)


By Steve Heeb

About three years ago, Krista Johnson decided to follow in her dad’s footsteps.

Of course, his feet had been on the accelerator of a March Formula Ford racer.

Jim Johnson has been interested in racing since his high school/college days. He crewed on a D-sports racing team before attending the Historic events at Road America and Pacific Raceway.

In 2001, the Johnson family’s plan had been for father and daughter to share seat time in Jim’s newly rebuilt racer during the 2002 Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts (SOVREN) season, but after running the Maryhill Hill Climb in Goldendale, Wash., he decided it would be too tough to share the car.

“I found this car that had been run by Jess Heitman in Portland,” Jim says of the 1968 Zink C-4 Formula V racer the family bought for Krista to drive. “We got it all legal.”

The 1196-cc VW engine is prepared to SOVREN specs-true to the vintage.

Since attending the Proformance Driving School at Pacific Raceways, the 23-year-old driver from Redmond has made a name for herself in the SOVREN ranks

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Krista says of racing, which joins soccer and camping as her favorite pastimes.

Of course it’s hard not to have fun at a new hobby when you consider how she racked up second in Open Wheel and Sports Racer class standings in 2002, her novice year, and backed it up with a top-five ranking, fourth overall in 2003.

“I think it’s great,” says mother Pat of Krista’s racing endeavors. “She has a good head on her shoulders. I have no fear when she is out there.”

Krista competes at 9-10 events  from April to October. Races take place on a variety of courses including natural terrain roads, airport circuits and hill climbs. Of note are the Columbia River Classic in Portland, Ore., and one of her favorites, the Maryhill Hill Climb.

“It’s a small group of us that goes,” Krista says of the Pikes Peak-style hill climb each September. “I’m usually the only car in the class, so it’s racing against yourself.”

Of course, it’s racing against yourself while avoiding the 200-foot shear drop off at the track’s edge.

This year, three “Vees” took part. Krista finished second in her class, less than a half second behind veteran Formula V driver Bill Simer. The Vees all beat out several higher powered cars on the highly technical hill climb.

At Pacific Raceways, Krista and fellow racers Retta Winbigler and Jimm Cutts find themselves going back and forth in the rankings.

“I’m happy to catch up with people I’ve chased for a year,” Krista says of the more seasoned drivers. “Just being able to run with them.”

On occasion, the Formula Vs and Formula Fords run concurrent races, putting father and daughter on the track at the same time.

“We don’t get to race together too often,” Jim says. “It’s always fun to race her.”

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