Newly elected NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. joked Wednesday that he should bring his couch to January’s induction ceremony.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson knows all about that couch, and its historical significance.
Like Hornaday, Johnson is a Californian who transplanted to North Carolina to pursue racing (Hornaday excelled in the Truck Series with four championships). The two met at various Chevrolet functions when Johnson was working his way up, and Hornaday offered him a place to stay in the Charlotte area.
Just a couple of months after that offer, Johnson received a late-model ride from Hendrick Motorsports, so Johnson took up Hornaday on the offer of his spare couch.
“I moved in and they wouldn’t let me move out. I stayed there six months,” Johnson recalled.
Hornaday recalled telling Johnson not to waste money on rent, to stay with his family until he was ready to buy a home. Then he served as an amateur realtor.
“On one of his Harley rides (Hornaday) found a home he thought I could afford. That’s how I bought my first house,” Johnson said.
“They were amazing to me and many others in the sport: Not just drivers, but all kinds of officials walking up and down pit road who have bunked there, and crew members from all over the place.
“Ron’s huge contribution to the sport is not only what he did on the track, but all the things he did off the track.”
Bonnell: 9704) 358-5129; @rick_bonnell