FAST COMPANY: NASCAR SUPERSTAR VETERAN JIMMIE JOHNSON TALKS LIFE AND DEATH AT HIGH SPEEDS WITH LEE COWAN
JOHNSON TELLS COWAN HE’S A BETTER DAD AND HUSBAND
Superstar racecar driver Jimmie Johnson won an unprecedented five consecutive championships on the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s premiere Sprint Cup Series before he stumbled in 2011 and missed out on a sixth straight title.
But, by falling behind, he was able to dig down and put himself in position to win this year, Johnson tells CBS SUNDAY MORNING correspondent Lee Cowan.
Racing last year, Johnson tells Cowan, “it seemed like work to me more than ever, and racing’s never been that way. This year, I have the… the energy that I did when I was a rookie coming in.”
The change came after some introspection and conversations with his wife, Chandra, on how he can better balance racing and his family life, especially after the birth of their almost two-year-old daughter.
“It’s just a tough balance to get that working right,” Johnson says. “But this year things – things work right. The balance is there.” Adds Johnson, “I think I’m becoming a better dad and certainly each year, a better husband, I mean it – experience is everything. I don’t think it matters if you’re in the car or, you know, in life, in workspace or personal space.”
So far, the new attitude has paid off on the track. This season, the driver of the Lowes #48 Chevrolet has won at Darlington and picked up a victory in NASCAR’s prestigious annual All-Star race. Johnson also gives Cowan the first-ever TV peek inside his Charlotte “man-cave,” where he keeps his racing memorabilia.
Yet, while at age 36 he’s been incredibly successful, Johnson admits there are moments when he thinks of the sport’s inherent dangers, especially the 2001 death of legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in a crash at the Daytona International Speedway.
“Standing around at driver intros… I remember vividly an image of Dale Sr. kissing Teresa Earnhardt and then climbing in the car and unfortunately, you know, he was killed that day. And a lot of people still remember that – you know, that final kiss that they had. So, sometimes my mind flashes to that and it’s like, ‘No, no… don’t think about it.”
Cowan’s full CBS SUNDAY MORNING interview with Johnson will be broadcast Sunday, May 27 (9:00-10:30 AM ET) the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.
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