Gas Monkey Garage Team Gets Win
Victory can be elusive. The quest to get back on a winning track demands attention to detail, continuous effort and unending commitment. Just because you’ve won before doesn’t guarantee you’ll win again.
For B.J. Johnson, the time between victories was maddening. Fortunately, the latest quest ended in Salinas, California, when Johnson drove Gas Monkey GarageTM to a Racing win in his home state.
“This feels great,” he said. “It’s the first win with the new team. We’ve been having problems all year, chasing steering issues. We tried things we thought would work and they didn’t but now it looks like we found the answer.”
“We” is an important word here. The driver gets credit for wheeling the truck, but Monster Jam® wouldn’t happen without the efforts of others who don’t get the limelight or the headlines. In the case of Gas Monkey Garage, B.J. worked alongside crew chief Lindsey Hilgendorf. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the battle to overcome the demon that kept them from victory.
“It’s been a long, hard year,” said B.J. “We race with our hearts and it has been a struggle. We both had tears after the win.”
It wasn’t the first time B.J. Johnson had taken a Lindsey Hilgendorf truck to victory. That happened in Adelaide, Australia, in 2014 when Johnson subbed for Madusa. They have been working together on Gas Monkey Garage, building the truck from the ground up to prepare for the 2016 season.
“There are not a lot of drivers who work on their own trucks,” said B.J. “It helps me really know what’s going on with it. I’m never upset when I lose, but it feels like you’re working for nothing. It takes up all of your time, but it has its rewards. We had more fans write us this week after winning and that makes you feel good. The guys at Gas Monkey Garage called us and they were excited.”
Johnson has been involved with the sport for 16 years, but has raced just about anything with an engine from a very young age. His involvement with Monster Jam trucks runs the gamut. He has had the “lone wolf” days of the independent teams, driving the rig, maintaining the truck, fixing the broken parts and getting to drive after all of that has been done. He has an appreciation for what it takes to be a competitor. “If you’re not one with the truck, you’re not likely to win,” he said. “I know it. I built it. I am with it constantly. Since January, we’ve had six days off away from the truck. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it.”
Like B.J., Lindsey’s experiences began with independent teams, giving her a greater appreciation of what it takes. “She wants the truck to be the best it can be,” B.J. added. “She’s committed to it. I try to never crash it, but when it happens, I always tell her I’m sorry. My life is in her hands. She’s my eyes when I’m driving. Her experience raises the bar and with her being around, things are a lot better for us.”
The Salinas win has served as redemption for the trials and tribulations of the season. The Gas Monkey Garage team will continue to work as hard as before, taking nothing for granted and doing what’s necessary, no matter the time or effort. This could be the springboard for more victories to come.
Photo by Evan Posocco