“Me and some buddies of mine had traveled to Daytona hoping to see Leo Payne. There were rumors he was going to come there and kick ass. All the fast street bikes parked on Main Street to show off your stuff and get up races but there was no Leo Payne. One sinister looking Sportster was parked there when we arrived. It looked like a Cafe racer. After looking at more “fast looking” bikes I went back to be with mine. Soon a guy came up and started looking my bike over thouroughly. It had twin Linkert carbs and Dytch big bore cylinders on it, a dead give-away. This guy asked who it belonged to and I proudly raised my hand. “Want to go out in the country and race” he said. That’s what I’m here for I said. He went to get his bike ….and it was the Cafe looking bike. It was about 10:00 pm as we headed out and at least 25 bikes went with us to watch. We found a long straightaway and decided it was good. The guy asked if I wanted to start from a dead stop or a rolloff. I said a rolloff. We were both side by side at about 20 mph when we turned the throttles at exactly the same instant and the other bike jumped out to a bike length lead on me and it stayed that way through all the gears up to about 130 mph, the fastest my bike would run with the gearing I had and besides it was pitch dark on that lonely highway. I was VERY disappointed to have lost as we rode back to downtown Daytona, trying to get back before the law got to us. As we parked I introduced myself and he said “I’m Danny Johnson.” It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until his death.” ~Frank Spittle via
“A Mind Shredder, two Harley-Davidson engines, each stretched out to 107 cubic inches, power this 460 pound Goliath. The thing has already devoured a quarter mile in 8.51 and its teeth haven’t been honed. Does the monster have a seven second future?” Motorcycle Journalist, Sandy Roca, on Danny Johnson’s Goliath, ca. 1973
Danny Johnson’s rolling flame burnout on a single Harley-Davidson Ironhead drag bike.
“Danny Johnson I remember well. I may still have a bit of his crankcase lurking somewhere from when he blew up his number one single Harley on his visit in 1973. A real nice laid back guy from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who started drag bike racing in 1970, he wowed the fans over here (England) with a rolling flame burnout. He was also well liked by the other racers over here. His racing style was so easy and consistent.
He was meant to bring over his double-engined Harley for the Internationals in 1973 but he dropped it on a rolling burnout prior to his visit, so he brought over two single-engined Harley bikes instead. The Americans did things differently and unlike the majority of British drag bikes their bikes were not supercharged – just lots of nitro through carbs. Danny did bring over the double-engined ‘Goliath’ when he came back in 1975 and match raced John Hobbs. That of course produced the first side by side 8’s outside the USA.” ~ Keith Lee via
Danny Johnson’s single-engine, Harley-Davidson Ironhead drag bike.
“Danny Johnson also had a single engine Harley Fuel Bike and had plans to build a new super lightweight single with a gigantic engine a large rear slick the same as G-1 used. I was hoping he might need an extra rider but he did not offer me anything and I did not throw any hints. The next time I saw Danny was at Bowling Green in June ’73. I spent some time with him in the pits and he asked for the first time when I was going to get back into Fuel Bike racing. I told him I didn’t have the money. That was that. Johnson finished the new single and took both singles to England just a few weeks after Bowling Green. After returning from his tour of England the NHRA U.S. Nationals was only weeks away.” ~Frank Spittle via
Danny Johnson’s single-engine, Harley-Davidson Ironhead drag bike
Danny Johnson on a single Harley-Davidson Ironhead drag bike. Photo by Roger Philips via
“My memory of Danny Johnson was that he was an unassuming, down to earth pragmatic racer who knew his stuff and loved racing. My match race series with him in July 1975 not only produced the first side by side 8 second runs this side of the pond, but he taught me a thing or two as well.” ~John Hobbs via
“Unfortunately Derek and I were on a sabbatical (building the Pegasus-Norton) when Danny Johnson came over the first time, so we never raced him. But I did pick up Danny and his crew from Heathrow Airport as a favor for Bob Phelps. It was probably not an introduction to England they’d have thanked me for. By the time we arrived at their hotel in central London they were all ashen faced – my driving technique of ducking and diving down all the side streets to avoid the traffic jams did not amuse them!
That’s Bob on the left, Danny in the center and Lee Stewart and Bob McCormack – his crew guys – on the right in the group photo. I’m sure many drag racing fans will remember that other photo in Hot Rod Magazine of Danny surrounded by a Who’s Who British drag bike racers, all listening intently to him at the ’73 Internationals. It completely summed up how popular he was, not only with the fans, but also with his fellow bike competitors.” ~Ian Messenger via
John Hobbs and Danny Johnson shake hands before the historic first side-by-side eights. Brian Sweet is crouching over The Hobbit with Ian Dentith behind him. A smiling Ian Messenger is standing between John and Danny. via The Acceleration Archive
Danny Johnson Harley-Davidson Ironhead “Super Rat” drag bike, looking incredible with that fairing.
“Rare pic of Danny Johnson on ‘Goliath 1’ taken at Ontario Motor Speedway just weeks after it’s debut at Atco in the fall of ’72. As you can see, Johnson was not very happy. He had broke another chain which almost certainly cost him a win. I believe it would be the last time out in ’72. I got to see “Goliath 1” at Danny’s home not long afterwards. It was THE talk in motorcycle drag racing. Danny had always built show quality machines but this one was just awesome. I could not wait to see it run. In addition to “Goliath 1″ Danny also had a single engine Harley Fuel Bike and had plans to build a new super lightweight single with a gigantic engine a large rear slick the same as G-1 used.” ~Frank Spittle via
“Danny Johnson went to Indy (1973) with “Goliath” and did not I believe take the single engine Harley. The pictures above are the incredible work of legendary motorsports photojournalist Steve Reyes. He has a knack for being at the right place at the right time and shooting unbelievable pictures. This was one of his finest moments. We talked about this at zMAX Dragway earlier this year. He is still shooting NHRA Nationals. In the first frame you can see the front wheel detached from the rest of the machine as Johnson is looking at where he is headed as the bike is going down. In the next frames he appears to be trying to push away from the wall which he did manage to do but “Goliath” was destroyed as it hit the wall and careened over it. You can see the fuel tank separated and spewing nitro. Johnson was not hurt very badly and immediately started on “Goliath II” I have wondered for the last 37 years if I would have had the “coolness” he had and come out of it as good as him.” ~Frank Spittle via
Danny Johnson’s twin-engine Harley-Davidson drag bike Goliath 2
“After surviving the 1973 horrendous crash at Indy that destroyed “Goliath 1” Johnson came home and started on the new machine. He had learned from almost a year’s racing of G-1 that some things needed improvements so G-II would have been built anyway. Here are some of the improvements:
(1) G-1 was a high gear bike. G-2 would use a B&J 2-speed transmission.
(2) G-1 used a 6 inch wide rear slick. G-II would use an 8 inch wide tire.
(3) G-! used a single row rear drive chain. G-II would use a double row.
Danny built almost every part for “Goliath II” including the chrome-moly tubing frame which weighed only 29 pounds. He put his touches to both alloy wheels and of course put his touch to almost every mechanical part. This bike also had the first Candy Apple Red Metal flake paint that would be his signature for every bike he raced for the rest of his career.” ~Frank Spittle via
Danny Johnson on his twin-engine Harley-Davidson drag bike Goliath 2
“I am not sure when Danny finished the bike but I believe it was in late ’74 or almost a year. He raced his singles during construction which kept him busy and not a lot of spare time to work on G-II. Johnson had took in a partner on G-II, Joe Stadler from Milwaukee, WI. G-II was raced for several seasons with Johnson and Stadler sharing the riding duties. I watched the bike race many times in it’s long career. It was competitive with the other multi-engine machines until the larger rear tire bikes started making a presence. And then Ron Teson came out with the single engine supercharged T/F Honda out of the RC Engineering shop that changed Top Fuel as much as G-! had years earlier. It changed Danny and made him realize twin engine bikes were doomed. He sold his interest in G-II to Stadler and for the first time started experimenting with Kawasaki parts.
Stadler kept the bike until his death in a non racing related matter. His widow sold G-II to John Heidt who kept it for a couple years. I bought it from him almost 20 years ago. The first photo was shot by Tom Loughlin Jr in 1975 and the other photo is one I took recently (click on the pictures several time to get detailed view). It is just as it was last raced with the exception of the engines. It has the original paint, chrome, tires and wheels etc. I can not tell you how priveliged I feel to be the owner of this bike. I hope to get it in running condition at some point and take it out and have some fun at Vintage Racing Events.” ~Frank Spittle via
Danny Johnson on his twin-engine Harley-Davidson drag bike Goliath 2, Santa Pod Raceway
Danny Johnson on his twin-engine Harley-Davidson drag bike Goliath 2, Santa Pod Raceway