Delmo Johnson, a Chevrolet dealer from Dallas who gained fame racing Corvettes in the 1960s, has passed away at the age of 82 [corrected from earlier report, ed]. Johnson’s racing exploits revolved mainly around Sebring where he began by racing his straight-axle Corvette, then followed it with a Sting Ray ZO6 and finally one of the five original Grand Sport Corvettes—which he got from fellow Texan John Mecom. Each of these cars has been tracked down, restored and can be seen today, as his straight-axle and ZO6 are displayed in the Rick Hendrick Collection, while the Grand Sport 004 resides in the Collier Collection.
As noted Corvette expert and author Richard Prince says: “Delmo Johnson crammed ten lifetimes worth of fun, adventure, accomplishment and trouble into his life. He loved racing, flying, chasing women, traveling, history, politics, cats, photography, business, building things…he loved life.”
Johnson raced a wide variety of cars during his career, including Jaguars, Ferraris, Listers, Renaults and, of course, Corvettes. He tackled the Carrera Panamericana upon its 1964 revival, driving solo in his 1963 Grand Sport. When the president of Mexico warned entrants that everyone from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua had been warned to stay off the roads, but that there would still be people on the roads, so if you hit someone don’t stop, Johnson attached a cow-catcher to the front of his car. “In short,” Prince says, “for a long, long time he made everyone around him laugh very hard.” To his family and friends in and out of the sport, Vintage Racecar extends its sincerest condolences.