Young racer Chase star on track, TV

Larry Woody • Mar 16, 2018 at 8:30 AM

The record-breaking accomplishments of young Mt. Juliet racer Chase Johnson – combined with his off-track poise and personality – landed him a role in a TV commercial and could lead to even bigger things down the road.

Chase currently appears in a Kia commercial that airs in Middle Tennessee markets, and there are plans for him to make another commercial once the racing season starts that will include some race-action footage.

“Chase is a fine young man and we’re happy and proud to be associated with him,” says Kia executive Chris Bostick who operates dealerships at Hickory Hollow, Rivergate and Franklin.

In addition to making Chase the star of its commercials, Kia will also sponsor his race car this season as he chases a championship at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway.

“Was it fun? Absolutely,” says Chase, a sixth -grader at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy who just turned 12.

“People have been coming up to me and saying, ‘Was that you on TV …?’”

Chase last season became the youngest winner in the Speedway’s 60-year history, capturing two victories in the Pro Mod division. He won Rookie of the Year and finished a close second in the championship standings after a blown engine in the season finale dashed his title hopes.

 “It was a devastating note to end the season on,” Chase says. “Maybe we can make up for it this year. Our goal is to win the championship.”

“It makes me so happy to see things going his way like this,” says Chase’s dad Andy, a former Fairgrounds track champion. “It’s what he’s wanted to do all his life, and he’s worked hard to make it happen. Having the Kia sponsorship will be a big help this season.”

It all began with a day at the lake.

Andy and Chase were boating on Percy Priest Lake one afternoon when they ran into Bostick and struck up a conversation.

Bostick was impressed by Chase, and when he learned about his racing exploits decided to feature him in a TV commercial.

“Chase is years beyond his age in terms of his professionalism and commitment to his goal,” Bostick says. “He’s very polite and respectful and makes good grades in school. He’s a great representative for us.”

The commercial was shot at the Kia Rivergate dealership. It runs less than one minute, but took about two hours to shoot.

“It was fun to do,” Chase says. “I didn’t feel nervous at all.”

In addition to thanking his new sponsor Kia, Chase ticks off the names of several others he says have played major roles in his racing success, starting with his dad, step-mom Allison and grandparents Peggy and Richard Johnson. Then he adds crew members Randy Weaver, Bubba Reed, Jason Brewer and Tommy Miller.

He also includes track operator Tony Formosa on the list. Formosa stepped up and saved the track a few years ago when it was on the verge of demolition as part of a Fairgrounds “revitalization” push.

“I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people,” Chase says. “I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”

 “He had a good season last year, learned a lot, and I’m proud of him,” says Andy, who won the Late Model title in 2009 and retired from driving in order to devote more time to his son’s racing efforts.

“We look forward to this year, and to the years to come.”

Last spring, as he prepared for his first season of racing full-bodied stock cars, Chase said he knew what some veteran drivers were thinking:

“They think I’m a kid in a driver’s suit.”

Now they know that the kid’s not kidding around.

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