getting podiums pretty regularly with the bikes, so we
were on the right track. But then the economy took a
dump and Suzuki was going through rough times and
they dropped the program.”
In 2009 Johnson got back on a Harley for the first
time in four years. Riding for Johnny Goad, Johnson
scored wins at Hagerstown and the Labor Day Spring-
field Mile. Those victories gave him the confidence that
he could win on the big tracks and that carried over to
his championship season with Zanotti.
Now Johnson has the distinction of being the first
AMA Grand National Champion from New Jersey, and
the biggest news in flat track racing to come out of the
state since the Palmgren brothers in the 1970s. Ironically Johnson has never raced a flat track race in his
“There are some goofy rules in New Jersey that
keep you from racing in the state until your 18,” he says.
“There was a regional race up here one year and a lot
of guys couldn’t ride it because they were too young.
That probably kept promoters from doing too many
Today Johnson is engaged to his longtime girl-
friend Jodi Michelle (sister of racer Johnny Lewis).
Jodi got a teaching job in Pennsylvania, so Jake is
in the process of selling his place in New Jersey and
moving an hour-and-a-half away and one state over,
even though he says he’ll always be Jersey Jake at