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Sherwood Johnston

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sherwood Johnston
NationalityUnited States American
BornSherwood Johnston
(1927-09-29)29 September 1927
Died9 November 2000(2000-11-09) (aged 73)
Eureka, California, USA
24 Hours of Le Mans career
TeamsBriggs Cunningham
Best finish3rd (1954)
Class wins1 (1954)

Sherwood Johnston (29 September 1927 - 9 November 2000) was an American racing driver who won racing titles on land and sea. Johnston was active in sports car racing during the 1950s. His greatest success was winning the 1952 SCCA National Sports Car Championship.

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Johnston began his career in April 1951, at the Thompson Speedway, in a minor national sports car race in the United States, in a privately entered Jaguar XK120, with a trip to the podium, after finishing in third place. When the SCCA National returned to Thompson in the July, Johnston would pilot the XK120 to two race victories and a third. For the following season, Johnston stepped up to race in the SCCA National full-time. Despite not winning any races outright, he still obtained sufficient points to be crowned champion at the end of the 1952.[1][2]

As a result of Johnston’s success, he came into contact with Briggs Cunningham, and signed for his racing team. Since the contract with Cunningham came into force in the summer, he raced a Jaguar D-Type of Art Feuerbacher, together with Bob Wilder to third place overall in the 12 Hours of Sebring. This was the first World Sports Car Championship race of motorsport history. His first trip to Le Mans saw Johnston entered in three of Cunningham’s car, but did not participate in the race. Three weeks later, he had his first European success, when he partnered Briggs Cunningham to third overall in the 12 Hours of Reims, a race that didn't count towards the World Championship.[3][4]

When Cunningham returned to Le Mans in 1954, Johnston was still part of the driver squad. This time he was partnered by Bill Spear, and together they finished in third place and won their class. He also undertook a number of SCCA National races for Cunningham, in various sports cars, across many classes. He scored enough points to finish second in the B Modified class.[5]

For 1955 visit to Circuit de la Sarthe, Cunningham paired himself with Johnston, but a piston failure ensured the pair did not finish. When the team returned to the USA, Johnston started racing the first of Cunningham’s Jaguar D-Types, they began winning immediately. Johnston, who had started the SCCA season driving a Ferrari 375 MM, finished the year as champion of SCCA’s new C/Sports Racing class, beating a young Californian, Phil Hill in the process.[6][7]

On 20 May 1956, Johnston's world changed. He was part of the Cunningham team that raced at the Cumberland circuit, in their D-Types. They were joined by amateur driver Walt Hansgen. At the start of the race, Hansgen raced away and left the field behind to win, but Johnston failed to finish the race. A fortnight later, Hansgen would also be a member of the Cunningham team. At Road America, both Johnston and Hansgen rolled their D-Types. After the disaster of the 1955 Le Mans and the accident at Road America proved too much for Johnston to ignore and he retired after finishing third in a SCCA National race at Beverly Airport.[8][9][10]

In the summer of 1969, Johnston returned to racing. He had obtained a Lola-Chevrolet T142 to race the SCCA Continental Championship for Formula 5000 cars. His best finish was 9th in the Le Circuit Continental, held at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant. For 1970, Johnston was signed by J & B Racing to race their Surtees-Ford TS5. After failing to finish any of the first four races, he announced at the Monterey Grand Prix, that he was to stop racing as his eyes wouldn’t focus quickly enough between the road and the gauges. [11][12]


In 1955 Johnston received two awards from the SCCA. He was presented with the President’s Cup for demonstrating ability, competitiveness and success in the SCCA National Championship. He was also awarded the Kimberly Cup, as the driver who had shown the greatest improvement in the past year.[13]

Racing record

Career highlights

Season Series Position Team Car
1952 SCCA National Sports Car Championship [14] 1st Jaguar XK120
Burke Mount Hillclimb [15] 2nd Jaguar XK120
Seneca Cup [16] 3rd Garret Fuller Lagonda Chrysler Special
1953 Grand Prix, 12 Hours of Sebring [17] 3rd A. H. Feverbacher Jaguar C-Type
12 Hours of Reims [18] 3rd Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R
1954 SCCA National Sports Car Championship – B Modified [19] 2nd Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R
Osca MT4
Kurtis Kraft 500S
Les 24 Heures du Mans [20] 3rd Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R
International Sports Car Grand Prix of Watkins Glen [21] 3rd Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R
1955 SCCA National Sports Car Championship – C Modified [22] 1st Briggs Cunningham Ferrari 375 MM
Jaguar D-Type
Eagle Mountain Hillclimb [23] 1st Ferrari 375 MM
International Sports Car Grand Prix of Watkins Glen [24] 1st Briggs Cunningham Jaguar D-Type
The Florida International Twelve Hour Grand Prix of Endurance [25] 3rd William C. Spear Maserati 300S
Governor’s Trophy [26] 3rd Briggs Cunningham Jaguar D-Type
1956 Torrey Pines 6 Hours [27] 1st Jerry Austin Jaguar D-Type
1969 SCCA Continental Championship [28] 23rd Lola-Chevrolet T142

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1954 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Bill Spear Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R S8.0 283 3rd 1st
1955 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Bill Spear Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R S8.0 196 DNF

Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1953 United States A. H. Feverbacher United States Bob Wilder Jaguar C-Type S5.0 162 3rd 1st
1954 United States B. S. Cunningham Co. United States Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrysler C4-R S8.0 104 DNF
1955 United States William C. Spear United States William C. Spear Maserati 300S S3.0 180 3rd 2nd
1956 United States Jaguar of New York Distributions Inc. United States William C. Spear Jaguar D-Type S5.0 127 DNF

Complete 12 Hours of Reims results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1954 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Briggs Cunningham Cunningham-Chrsyler C4-R 212 5th


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Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Fitch
SCCA National Sports Car Championship
Succeeded by
Bill Spear
Preceded by
Jim Kimberly
SCCA National Sports Car Championship
C Modified class

Succeeded by
Walt Hansgen
Preceded by
Bill Spear
SCCA President’s Cup
Succeeded by
Walt Hansgen
Preceded by
Jim Kimberly
SCCA Kimberly Cup
Succeeded by
Bob Drake
This page was last edited on 8 March 2018, at 00:08
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