Bronson Motorsports owner/driver Mike Johnson reflects on his inaugural season with sponsor Radar Tires in both the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) and SCORE International (SCORE). Johnson recaps his season and sets goals for the remainder of the year.
Johnson competes in LOORRS behind the wheel of the No. 31 Bronson Motorsports Toyota Tacoma sponsored by Radar Tires. Johnson also serves as co-driver of the No.1031 Radar Tires Racing Buggy in SCORE.
So far this season, Bronson Motorsports, Radar Tires and Johnson have won two off road events. In January, Johnson and co-driver Mike Majesky were the overall winners at the Mojave Off-Road Racing Enthusiasts (M.O.R.E.) New Years 200 race in Barstow, California, and the Class 10 winners of the 45th Annual SCORE International Baja 500 in Ensenada, Mexico. Johnson, Radar Tires and Bronson Motorsports lead the SCORE International Class 10 points race, following the San Felipe 250 podium finish and Baja 500 win. The team will compete in the 46th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in November. In LOORRS, Johnson’s best finish was ninth place at Las Vegas Motors Speedway.
We’re at the halfway point of the LOORRS season. You’ve had some success and some struggles. Talk about the progress in LOORRS this season with Radar Tires.
“We have struggled in the first half of the season for sure. We found ourselves a bit behind from the beginning. Our program came together later than we expected and we didn’t get the first truck together until the week before the first race. As a result, most of our testing has taken place on race weekends. We just received the second truck a week ago and with my crazy [stunt] work schedule we just have not had the time to test.
“The one solid thing in this program has been the hard work of the Bronson Motorsports team, a great Radar Tires program and a lot of other great sponsors and products as well. I have been amazed at the tire Radar has brought to the table for us to race on this year. Now we just need to get the balance of the truck to my liking so we can qualify a little better and start up with the faster guys in the class. We have raced very well but unfortunately when you start in the middle of the pack you have to race with some unpredictable guys in that class.”
What are your goals for the remainder of the LOORRS season?
“I would like to get the balance of the truck worked out so we can race with the guys up front and really show what this team and tires are capable of doing.”
You have a new ProLite truck. How does it perform relative to the original one?
“We haven’t really had a chance to test them side by side yet. That is what I am really looking forward to doing. Keith Stamper built us a really nice piece so I’m excited to get to testing.”
In addition to racing in LOORRS, you’ve been racing in SCORE International. Talk about the progress of that program.
“Our SCORE program has been flawless and we’ve had the results to prove it – a San Felipe podium and class win at Baja 500. We have spent the last year getting that program into place and it shows. We are really happy with the buggy at this point, we had some teething problems in the beginning (electrical issues) but really found some things in the off season and have it dialed in right now. The tire that Radar built for us in the desert is amazing. We just keep punishing it and it keeps responding so we couldn’t be happier.”
You are leading the Class 10 category in points with one race remaining this season. How do you approach the final race – Conservative? Aggressive?
“Aggressive for sure, I have never understood why people get conservative when things are working well the way they are. Going passive is not our style. Mike Majesky and I have a lot of confidence in the team and the products we race on so to take it easy at this point I think would be a big mistake!”
What have you learned about the Radar Tires this season?
“That you can’t wear them out! I was amazed at the performance the Radar Ties gave us at the Baja 500. I could push them in the rocks as well as the sand washes and they just keep performing. Truly a testament and commitment Radar and Omni have to off road racing.”
Besides racing a truck and buggy in the two different series, do you have a different approach/outlook heading into the races?
“There are differences in the series, so I change a little bit between the two. In the short course racing, you have to push hard from the get-go and not let up until the checkered flag. The desert is a much longer race so you have some time to pick and choose your pressure points.”
What are the next steps for Bronson Motorsports? What should we expect to see both on and off the track from Bronson Motorsports?
“The biggest thing we want to accomplish is to get both programs in championship form. But we will also be looking at other classes as well and developing bigger size tires for those classes.”
Talk about the relationship and support from Radar Tires. As their first year in off road motorsports, you’ve delivered the win at MORE and the SCORE 500 win. Are Radar Tires and parent company Omni United happy with the results so far this year?
“They have been amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor. From the first meeting with them I felt like they were all in. From the engineers to the sales/marketing staff and especially the owner who has to be the most hands on guy I have ever met. They are extremely happy as am I. We really set out this year to test and developed the tires but after our first test with the desert tire I knew we had something here and it was just our first test. They never stop thinking and trying to improve on what we have. I really like what the company is about and they have some great thing to come out in the future, so I am excited to say the least of the future of this brand in off road racing.”
Why didn’t you race at LOORRS in Glen Helen?
“I have been having an issue with a nerve and disc in my neck. It has been accumulating over the years from the stunt work combined with the off road racing, especially in the short course ProLite division. So the doctors thought it would be better to take a little time off now and address the issue and get healthy rather than deal with it for years to come, so for once I took their advice.
“I’ve spoken with doctors and they advise me to not compete in the Reno event as well. We’re evaluating my progress and making decisions on a race-by-race basis.”
Will there be another driver in the Radar Tires Racing machine at the LOORRS Reno event?
“At this time we will not have another driver competing at Reno. My goal is to return to LOORRS competition for the Las Vegas and Lake Elisnore events. If I’m unable to compete in the final two races of the LOORRS season, Bronson Motorsports will compete with another driver in my place.”