The “Danimal” finally makes it into the DIRT Hall of Fame

It’s a reference to his driving style and to the simple fact that he can handle a big-block Modified on a dirt track, excelling in any number of these upright, unruly, wildly overpowered open-wheel stock cars. And in 40 years strapped in the hot seat, Danny Johnson, 59, has won a whole slew of races in these unforgiving cars. As a reward, he’s being enshrined in the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame as part of its 28th class of inductees. Fittingly, the hall is located at Weedsport Speedway in west-central New York, the northeastern home of DIRT, the sanctioning group whose races Johnson won so often.

Born and still living in Phelps, New York, Johnson is one of two brothers who embraced the big-block Modifieds early on. His brother, Alan, is already in the hall and between the two of them, the Johnson brothers account for two of the three top spots on DIRT’s all-time winner’s list. Danny scored his first feature win in 1979 and in the ensuing years, he notched 593 main-event victories for more than 40 different car owners. His best-known and most fruitful effort was with car owner Ray Bramall, who owned a truck dealership in Newburgh, New York. They were together seven years, during which The Doctor – as he’s also known – operated to the tune of 92 feature wins and multiple series championships, including the biggest one of all, the DIRT fall classic that used to be held on the dirt mile at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Johnson’s stellar career has seen him win at 55 different speedways in 13 states and two Canadian provinces. His titles include four overall Mr. DIRT Modified titles, three Super DIRT Series trophies, five Modified championships at Rolling Wheels Speedway, four at Canandaigua, two at Weedsport, three on the Florida tour, and 89 Super DIRT Series victories. On the 358-cubic-inch side of the ledger, Johnson’s scored four Mr. DIRT 358 and three series titles, championships at Ransomville, Orange County and Weedsport, and 56 358 Modified Series wins. His pair of Super Dirt Week Mod triumphs at Syracuse came in 1997 and 2006. Johnson will be inducted into the hall on Thursday, July 25th, with the Hall of Fame 100 at Weedsport Speedway set for July 28th.

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