The Corvette racing world lost another legend this month when Robert D. “Marietta Bob” Johnson passed away on May 7, 2012 at age 85.
He earned the nickname “Marietta Bob” to differentiate him from his racing partner, “Columbus Bob” Johnson. They were named for their hometowns in Ohio.
Marietta Bob didn’t start racing until he was in his mid-30s when his good friend Doug Bergen convinced him to drive his 1966 big block in 1967.
It didn’t take long for folks to realize that this Johnson fellow was a natural, as he won his first race at Cumberland, Maryland and went on to take a total of seven A Production wins in his first year of racing Corvettes. He later drove 1968 and 1969 L88 Corvettes for Bergen, who got out of the race car owner business in 1970.
But that wasn’t the end of Marietta Bob’s career. He kept on racing with legends like Columbus Bob Johnson, Don Yenko, John Greenwood, Dave Heinz, and Toye English. In fact, in 1972, he won the SCCA Central Division championship and finished third in the SCCA National Finals.
He and Heinz are well known for their joint efforts in the number 4 LeMans car in 1972 (which is now on display at Mike Yager’s MY Museum in Illinois) and the number 57 Rebel car. The two were clocked for many laps racing down Mulsanne Straight at 211 mph. A year later, they finished first in class and third overall at the Six Hours of Daytona and first in class and second overall at Sebring. Bob drove for Greenwood in 1973.
Read more about the racing life of “Marietta Bob” Johnson at the Registry of Corvette Race Cars.