The Talent Tank

EP 35 Alan Johnson

October 19, 2020 Alan Johnson Episode 47
The Talent Tank
EP 35 Alan Johnson
Chapters
The Talent Tank
EP 35 Alan Johnson
Oct 19, 2020 Episode 47
Alan Johnson

A play on the triumph and losses in performance and life.  The Talent Tank podcast will navigate the inner workings of lifestyle, lives, family, teams, careers, programs, and technology in and around the offroad motorsports industry.  What breeds success with your Talent Tank on full, failures when its on empty.  From the journey to the Starting Line to take that Green Flag, on to exploring trials and tribulations on and off the track in pursuit of victorious achievement and the Checkered Flag.

Jumping into the The Talent Tank this week is a bigger than life character that goes by the moniker The Dusty Gnome. He is anything but infinitesimal.  Current VP of Marketing and Communications for ULTRA4 Racing and for many of us, our good buddy, Alan Johnson @thedustygnome.  While it did take some coercing of Alan, some hesitation on his part, and ultimately chiding, you're going to enjoy the next two hours of one of the many behind the scenes personalities that keep the Ultra4 train on the tracks and charging hard.   The twists and unexpected turns that Alan has navigated in life are nothing short of impressive.  From his days in a band trying to make it in Nashville, to having a mid-life crisis that made him throw his hat in the "Every Man Challenge" ring at 40 years old, he has done it all.  Alan is a modern day Jekyll and Hyde. He juggles his professional suit and tie, bill paying gig in the dental software world with his dust covered cargo pants, flip flops and offroad scarf wearing alter ego.  I hope you enjoy this Episode highlighting the guy for all things media, perception, and focused narrative of unlimited offroad 4-wheel drive racing that is Ultra4.   

Headshot provided by Lona Scott of Scott's Designs @scotts.designs

After the Checkered Flag-
Offroad scarf?  The shemagh (pronounced “schmog”) – also called a keffiyeh and ghutrah – originated in the Middle East. They are a scarf-type wrap commonly found in arid regions to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well to protect the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand.  There are many different names for the shemagh, like keffiyeh and ghutrah. One style of the white and red keffiyeh is typically associated with Jordan, while another white and red pattern is associated with the Arabian Peninsula. The white and black ones are typically associated with Iraq.

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Show Notes Transcript

A play on the triumph and losses in performance and life.  The Talent Tank podcast will navigate the inner workings of lifestyle, lives, family, teams, careers, programs, and technology in and around the offroad motorsports industry.  What breeds success with your Talent Tank on full, failures when its on empty.  From the journey to the Starting Line to take that Green Flag, on to exploring trials and tribulations on and off the track in pursuit of victorious achievement and the Checkered Flag.

Jumping into the The Talent Tank this week is a bigger than life character that goes by the moniker The Dusty Gnome. He is anything but infinitesimal.  Current VP of Marketing and Communications for ULTRA4 Racing and for many of us, our good buddy, Alan Johnson @thedustygnome.  While it did take some coercing of Alan, some hesitation on his part, and ultimately chiding, you're going to enjoy the next two hours of one of the many behind the scenes personalities that keep the Ultra4 train on the tracks and charging hard.   The twists and unexpected turns that Alan has navigated in life are nothing short of impressive.  From his days in a band trying to make it in Nashville, to having a mid-life crisis that made him throw his hat in the "Every Man Challenge" ring at 40 years old, he has done it all.  Alan is a modern day Jekyll and Hyde. He juggles his professional suit and tie, bill paying gig in the dental software world with his dust covered cargo pants, flip flops and offroad scarf wearing alter ego.  I hope you enjoy this Episode highlighting the guy for all things media, perception, and focused narrative of unlimited offroad 4-wheel drive racing that is Ultra4.   

Headshot provided by Lona Scott of Scott's Designs @scotts.designs

After the Checkered Flag-
Offroad scarf?  The shemagh (pronounced “schmog”) – also called a keffiyeh and ghutrah – originated in the Middle East. They are a scarf-type wrap commonly found in arid regions to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well to protect the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand.  There are many different names for the shemagh, like keffiyeh and ghutrah. One style of the white and red keffiyeh is typically associated with Jordan, while another white and red pattern is associated with the Arabian Peninsula. The white and black ones are typically associated with Iraq.

Please like & subscribe.
https://www.thetalenttank.com/
https://www.instagram.com/thetalenttank/
https://www.facebook.com/thetalenttank
Insiders Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheTalentTankInsiders/ 

Intro/Outro:

Let's drop the green flag on this episode of the talent tank podcast with your host Wyatt Pemberton bringing you the best, fastest, most knowledgeable personalities and ultra for and off road racing.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Here we go. All right. All right. Welcome back to the talent tank. As you guys clicked on today's episode, wow, yes. Ultra4 represented here. This guy. I've been on him for a long time to come on the show. And he kept saying no, I'm not the guy. keep focusing on the racers keep focusing on the fab guys. But then finally, finally, he gave in. I'm so glad he's on. Alan Johnson. Alan, how are you?

Alan Johnson:

I'm doing fantastic. How are you? Oh, man,

Wyatt Pemberton:

well ecstatic to sit down here with you. You know, you've had a long day of work. And then this and then I had a long day at work rush home to get in to sit down and do the next couple hours with you. So I'm pretty pumped.

Alan Johnson:

Me too. I appreciate you having me on. But

Wyatt Pemberton:

so Alan, Alan, if people aren't familiar with Alan or the name, and he's not a racer today, he was a racer in the past. He's got a couple national championship titles to his name in 4500. But he is the current Marketing and Communications vice president of ultra4 racing. It's a big title.

Alan Johnson:

I was gonna say sounds that way. I don't want to I don't want that guy's job.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I don't know of anyone that wants your job. You do kind of everything. That's your title. But you're kind of the the current do all for Ultra4 right. It seems like everything kind of falls towards you.

Alan Johnson:

You know, I'm the do all that you see because I get to interact with people online or you know, racers and scheduling. But if you want to find a real do all go find a Virgo find, you know, Scott Hartman and ultra for in general is everyone may have a defined role. But we're all doodles to a certain extent, I just get to do with social media and communication. So it was the ugliest mug bacon find and said you go be social media.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Okay, fair, fair, fair, fair, fair assessment of yourself. Yes. I mean, that's how I put it. I will say that I was really shocked. You know, at one point, the ultra4 social media presence, it felt like it was a team effort. And then talking to you recently, that might have been the case in the past. But today, almost all social media, we see time ends up originating in your head to a certain extent, again, you're never going to get me to say something's not a team effort, because everything is to a certain respect. We've got fantastic photographers that provide content and putting words to Epic photos is a lot easier than you would think. sales teams done a great job working and building communication with our partners. So we're, we plan ahead, we planned ahead for the bronco launch, we planned ahead for, you know, on site events. So I coordinate it and probably touch the buttons quite a bit. But it is still a team effort when it comes to the messaging and gathering all the content. I know you guys have been killing it, I there's no way it all can originate at one point of failure, so to speak, or there's no short circuiting of that it is the cool stuff, you know, the top 10 drivers, the top 10 vehicles, the top 10 races, the you guys are constantly finding new and interesting ways to engage the audience.

Alan Johnson:

Well, it's fun when it's something you love, ya know, and we love the sport and we love the drivers. And yet man, there are some amazing content creators in this space. So it's actually really neat just provide a platform for all the creatives that tell the story. Because all of us have been involved in racing for so long. That's part of what draws us to it is the stories and the personal aspect and the pitch and the challenges No, I love it.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I utilize a lot of your headshots a lot of guys the entities that have raised this show with their time presence of U4 got, you know, the your picture, something that you snap of their head, end up being, what their cover art is, and I appreciate that.

Alan Johnson:

You know, it's really I've got to give that credit to my wife, she and then we'll talk about her in a little bit but she's very supportive. And even when she's criticizing she criticizes supportively so she's, you know, like, like any husband, you know, look, Honey, what I made, she was real honest with me. After about the fourth picture, all the racecars start to look the same to her. That's kind of not her gig. I mean, I can tell you exactly who they are by their silhouette coming through dust with no numbers showing but they look the same to her so I happen to snap some pictures of you know, Dave and JT and Andrew and a couple others. Oh, that's who that is. And so I started going to events and tried to make sure I took people pics they always teased me that I was the mom in the group Anyway, you know, I always want to make sure I get school picks and people picks and lineup so we can get the family but but it is and that became one of the most popular parts of what we did. Then now an event is a failure if at least eight people don't use my photos as their, their profile shot on Facebook. So it's kind of kind of turned into a thing. But I absolutely love it. Because I try to get into shots, I try to get people do what love and again just tells a different story of ultra for that I think people can relate to even if they can't build cars, they can understand smiling and family and having a good time,

Wyatt Pemberton:

which is what it's all about to begin with. Right? We'd you bet we'd hang out with, you know, our best friends, if we were ditch diggers, just to be around our best friends, you know, and the people that we call basically our family, our race family. So like, exactly, yeah, you're killing?

Alan Johnson:

Yeah,

Wyatt Pemberton:

I had a conversation with Lana over at Scotts designs. And because I needed I actually used a picture of hers here in the past couple weeks. And as I reached out to her, I'd realized that she had taken a picture of you. And I'd asked her about it months, months and months ago, and she said, Yes, a unit, which was a reminder for me to hit you back up and say, Hey, when are you gonna? Come on? You finally said, Yeah, I'll do it. What was it? What was the apprehension?

Alan Johnson:

You know, honestly, I, this is so funny. If you know me, you know, I won't shut up, you know, I like to be the center of attention, unless I'm the center of attention. And I'm so interested in helping ultra for grow, and really putting the spotlight on a sport that I love and the people I love, that I honestly didn't want it to be you know about me. And now you've done enough shows, and you've established yourself and you've had some amazing guests. And I'm like, Okay, now Now I can slip in here and talk a little bit about now. And it not detract from older four or things along those lines. So for me, it's just a matter of timing, I like to tell the story, I don't like to be the story, if that makes sense. The guy behind the camera at all times. The other person that I recall, it had this same kind of apprehension was wil Gentile, another guy who's behind the camera, good to say, that guy's a genius. Definitely one of my mentors and heroes when it comes to telling stories and media and content creation. And again, another one of those examples of someone who early in my career, would spend time to just share and coach and befriend someone and you don't see that in other sports. But that vibe permeated the media family just racing.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Oh, for sure. Get it out there because I skipped it. You're on Instagram as the @dustygnome, you're kind of on top of questions that and then you're on Facebook, you know, with you know, white collar publishing is kind of what your photography businesses on the side. And like I said, I'm definitely gonna go into all that. But as people have seen, the dusty gnome year there, that's your presence, but you're also you're kind of one of the guys behind the scenes on the ultra four posts. So you can kind of see that oozing through certainly, we want to talk about how you got into photography and kind of how that has taken off in the off road world and kind of even how that ended up with your role. You know, at over four. I will get in there here in a little bit. But, man, I want to talk about just current issues kind of real quick, because I'm gonna say this weekend, we've got nationals in Oklahoma. What's going on there man is everything on track. One of the things that we need to know the ultra four wants us to know, as we approach you know, the next four or five days,

Alan Johnson:

and I am so friggin excited. I mean, it's it's cliche at this point to say 2020 has been a strange year, but I mean, that's actually one of the hallmarks of ultra for right sort of ability to adapt and overcome whether it's on the race course or you know what states open what states closed, so I'm really we're gonna be Davis, Oklahoma, I fully enjoy when we go to Reno and we'll be back in Reno for 2021. But Brian Trotter and the whole crew out of the crossbar ranch really made it easy for us to put on a top notch race at a fantastic facility that frankly is more centrally located for more people. Trotter and the crew opened up more course so JT went out and just had a blast just about a 30 mile Racecourse still an a lap or an a loop which is more speed related and then a very technical rocky be looped through the creeks and the climbs. two laps for stock. So stocks doing 60 miles. Oh nice. Nice. Yeah, 90 miles, three laps for legends modified. And quite frankly, I love to be on the conversation with Jay He's like, Hey, we told you TVs prove themselves they prove themselves let's give them something hard to so you TVs are running three laps as well. And in the big boys are doing four so it's 120 mile final to cap out the year. So since we couldn't race as many races as we wanted to. We'll just race launder in each race and try to make up for it.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I like that I think the racers are like that too. But that's really going to change strategy for Davis when you start looking at that many miles.

Alan Johnson:

Oh man and and do you do you pick at the end of the day or at the end of the be? I mean, that's really one of the nice aspects of Crossfire Ranch is the course is almost like a bow tie or a figure eight. So you can do you know, a loop and a half. So yeah, strategy is certainly part of it. And it truly makes it an endurance race again. Yeah, no, it's a there's a short course component. There's a tight wooded component. Love the drag race five the windmills and stuff. I mean, it's absolutely a beautiful course. But yeah, it's a long day. And we think it'll be super competitive. And with the points being so jacked up this year as well, I mean, let's again just be frank, we went from King of the hammers nationals and six regional races to we've had four races this year, and then a bonus race at Crandon so nationals count and whether you finish you know two laps or four laps is going to make a dramatic difference in what the season ending point totals are. So we've got great cars, great drivers, great course. But frankly enough drama that you're not going to know what's going on until it's four it's not in a bag or one person's race to lose at this point. And that's cool. Who doesn't like a good competitive hard fought race?

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, and that's gonna be strategy as well not just not just on the pinning strategy, but literally, you know, how hard Do you push and when do you push and where do you push just to ensure you can get the finish? I mean, hundred 20 Miles Davis is not going to be a walk in the park.

Alan Johnson:

I have on good authority. That champ is going checkers or records Deland on the box. So at the very least, you got to watch chip to see what what he does because he is going all out for all hundred 20 miles from what I understand.

Wyatt Pemberton:

That is how is that different than any other race for him?

Alan Johnson:

Chip happens, man. He's putting it ahead of time.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Oh, Lord, I love that guy. He's in Texas. Yep,

Alan Johnson:

just a couple other things that are important to note not to get too much into the business side of things. But there are a few differences this year. And again, it just has to do with this being such an unusual year. Typically you had to raise hammers and a regional race to be able to come to Nationals. It was kind of earned your way into it. Obviously we didn't have as many chances to race this year so nationals are open to anyone even if it's their their first race of the year. However, it's not a gimme ko h qualifier. So this is not a way to short circuit LC Q and show up and go haha, I mean getting the hammers No, you could done that in Tennessee, they've done that in people who want to just experience ultra for people who want to shake down before hammers, this is a great opportunity to come out and race and really enjoy it. Also, like it or not the digital reduced contact experiences where we live these days. And so we're utilizing some of those elements at Nationals, you may have already noticed, you know, you can pre register online, you can buy tickets online, there's a lot more you can do. And we want to incorporate these at Nationals. So we can refine it for King of the hammers this year. So it's going to be the same great stuff. We love doing just a couple little nuances due to the the year but yeah, nationals are just gonna rock

Wyatt Pemberton:

digital transformation mean that's that's a cool, cool beta way to test you will get grace on rolling anything new out, but to roll it out at kfh would be almost reckless. So it's very cool to hear you guys are taking some very proactive steps.

Alan Johnson:

But as I say this with love, it's hard to change things that ultra for sometimes this is how we've done it, it does its stuff, it works, don't mess with it. But this year has really given us a chance. And Dave, quite frankly, is really empowered, you know, myself, he's empowered Ryan, he's empowered Scott. And so we've got a chance to try some things different since it is such a disruptive year as it is anyway, all in the spirit of making the experience better for our racers, our fans, our sponsors, so I don't like this year, but I'm grateful for this year because I think it gives us a chance to try some things that'll just make the whole sport and the whole experience better going forward.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Love to hear that. So we talked about like how tight things are gonna be, you know, certainly strategy, there's gonna be some call outs for because there's a lot of things on the line with this race, because of what it is. And when it is being the last race of the year. And national titles being what they are. You know, Moab was kind of the the first chance to see the USAC timing system in play. How did that play out? Do you guys have an instill confidence now after the problems that we've had over the past couple years, with timing and in finishes?

Alan Johnson:

Absolutely. Again, this is one of those areas where we're getting a chance to try something different and USAC has been doing this for years and other race series and events. Certainly we post some additional challenges just because of the rock and the remote location. But Moab was a great experience to figure out what worked and what didn't work and it was actually very smooth from a timing perspective. One of the things we do the Monday after every race to sit down and capture what worked what didn't work, we take notes again Ryan Thomas is very organized about a learn and apply what we learn to the next one. So you will see a timing be even tighter at nationals and of course all of this is pointing towards just making it turnkey reliable. trustworthy, so long to get two hammers and future racism beyond, I don't have to check means of Keio, ah to see how we're getting lampooned to that particular event because of timing. So, you know, we've got an independent third party, they're very good at what they do. And I'm really excited, we made that change. Because it takes a lot of the drama and guesswork out of it, they're good at what they do,

Wyatt Pemberton:

just lends confidence all the way around the board. And we've seen that confidence eroded and, you know, there's, there's a lot of grace to be given. But when it's, you know, endless and continuous, it's like, Okay, guys, we're over it. But let's, let's get proverbial, you know, crap together.

Alan Johnson:

Again, a great example of being able to know what you're good at and know what you're not good at, and go find people who are great at it. If it's a gap, and it's a gap we had, and we're really excited to partner with USAC we think it'll, it'll make a big difference.

Wyatt Pemberton:

First, and foremost, thank you for the insight on what we have coming up here at Nationals. I'm pretty excited. Um, you know, I don't live that far away. It's still seven and a half hour drive. But you know, when you live in Texas, it's kind of everywhere is a day drive no matter what. So and based on I've got some meetings on that, you know, on Friday morning, so I'm actually going to fly up I'm gonna fly to Dallas and grab a rental car. And enjoy guys, you be there for qualifying right afternoon. And then you brought chip a little while ago last last nationals chip had a flame thrower that was always you know, something fun that everyone needs in their pit spaces. A flame thrower, that was pretty solid chip. So please bring that again. And anyhow, we will have a good time. And Alan I absolutely can't wait to see you in person. So it's very cool that we're getting a right from the horse's mouth for moltar for kind of some of the details you just gave us a ton of insight on on the course so people will hear this they've got a couple days to plan for strategy as as they're loading and packing up to head to South Central south central Oklahoma are now shifting gears let's get into let's let's flashback. Let's go. Why people are here. You know, really to talk about you. That's my plan.

Alan Johnson:

flashbacks the right word for it. You're What are you if I do my math, right, you're about 4848 be 49 lakhs should be 49 in February, you know, King of the hammers and my birthday parties figure in quite solid, but yes, I'm reaching the point where I can say pushing 50

Wyatt Pemberton:

you're getting close. You actually win. I've watched you buzz around the media tent at in hammer town. You buzz around like somebody who's in their 20s or somebody who definitely doesn't think about beer that before.

Alan Johnson:

Which whiskey whiskey good for your first statement.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I like that statement as well. So were you born in Arkansas?

Alan Johnson:

You know, ironically, I wasn't. I was born in Anaheim, California. I grew up in Laguna Hills. We lived there until I was seven. But both sets of my parents and all my grandparents all grew up in Arkansas. So California late 70s wasn't exactly where he wanted to raise kids. So we moved to Northwest Arkansas and I grew up in Heber Springs, Arkansas. I consider that home. It's the type of place where you can walk down senior Hall in the high school and see pictures of your mom and all her brothers and sisters, your grandparents, all their brothers and sisters and it's just really blessed and later almost no junk food Mellencamp style small American Midwest town. It was just fantastic. I loved it.

Wyatt Pemberton:

And today you live in Bella Vista, right?

Alan Johnson:

Right now I live in Northwest Arkansas. My wife and I laughed for a long time we lived up and down I 40 for a decade. Right? We lived in Memphis, we went to Little Rock. We lived in Nashville. We live back in Memphis. But we never spent much time up in the northern part of the state. And my son, I'm sure we'll talk about in a little bit goes to the University of Arkansas. My sister lives up here in Pea Ridge. So we went and visited Northwest Arkansas and we're just blown away. You know, it's Walmart's world headquarters. So there's a lot of taxpayer money here. But there's these outstanding mountain bike trails and beaver lake and I don't know, it's just a really, really cool part of the state to live in. Because there's there's good restaurants and Crystal Bridges museum and you know stuff but it's still Southern and friendly and you wave when you pass people on the road. So really digging it up.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Now, I've been I've parted at University of Arkansas for you know, many, many times and actually had a 365 day ban from the city of Springdale, Arkansas for some antiques back back in that era in the late 90s of partying down there.

Alan Johnson:

Oh no, when I moved on the questionnaire, do you know why? And I lied. This is one reason why they let me up here. So we're good.

Wyatt Pemberton:

We're good. That is a big part of the UI. You got to Kasler.

Alan Johnson:

I don't much I mean, it's it's really weird. I'm weird. What am I saying? You know, as soon as things I travel all the time, so when I'm home, I tend to stay around home. I like to fish around here. I play with my dogs, walk them, go to the dog park, stuff like that, but I really don't do much Around home, just because I'm here so infrequently I really want to enjoy.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Fair enough. So growing up, did you have you have any siblings? Are you only child?

Alan Johnson:

depends on who you talk to. I act like I'm an only child, but I do have two sisters and a brother. But I'm the oldest. So I guess I'm the only child that matters if you want to put it that way. And I know they're listening and they can't say anything back. So I will do that. But no, I've got I've got a younger sister Jenny, who's two years younger than me. Well, sister Maggie, who's eight years younger, my little brother David, who's 10 years younger. My sister lives in Pea Ridge and her husband Sean's head Ranger at beaver Lake, just wonderful family and their kids and they live out in the country. So on Sundays, that's where we go shooting, we can go out there and you know, put a few rounds through and just kind of relax, love it. I will sister Maggie is actually in full time ministry. She and her husband travel with a group of young people go to churches and basically do revivals geared towards couples. So they spend eight months a year on road when they're four kids all 10 and under, I can't imagine. And then my little brother David fortunately moved up here a couple years ago, he's a marine is done a couple tours and and just banish love. My little brother morning went on the face of the planet, so I'm tickled to death. He's up here close. So that was part of the reason we moved back was to be near family and let our kids be near family before they went off to college. And I've got a real good crew.

Wyatt Pemberton:

And I didn't go into I know at some point it was gonna come up. But when you say move back, I remember. And we'll just again, jumping forward and back at the same time. You lived in Phoenix, and that was kind of where you got into offering. How long ago did you move from Phoenix back to Arkansas.

Alan Johnson:

I am not gonna lie. I fell in love with the desert. I never even been to Phoenix until two weeks before I started a job out there. And I knew I'd gone native one year when the desert was a little bit less beige. And I said, ooh, it's awfully green this year. But that's where I met my off road family. That's where I fell in love with wheeling and crawling and hanging out with all the Jeep clubs and really just grew a lot out in the desert and loved it stayed really connected. But come back to Arkansas every year, sometimes twice a year, my wife's family's all from Arkansas as well. But my dad had a longer term illness had COPD, he was a mechanic for years and years and years and all those chemicals and things like that just another on the lungs. And I was just really blessed to have an opportunity to be here during his last year before he passed. Everything just worked out. We're able to move back here. My son was already going to college here. My mom and dad had moved up here. So yeah, it was absolutely the right reason to move home. May was three years I've been back on was three and a half years now. So

Wyatt Pemberton:

Time flies, doesn't it?

Alan Johnson:

Man, it's just weird time as an accordion. It goes really fast and really slow depending on what's going on.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I mean, that doesn't sit well, you know, for anybody on any level. But if he gave you anything, it was the ability to you know, that move back to Arkansas to be worth it and, you know, be able to separate you know, his life the you know, all your family right there. You're

Alan Johnson:

right. Oh, you bet. And my dad's always with us, my love of music comes from him. You know, My son is almost like watching a version of him and my grandfather. So, you know, dad's legacy is super strong, and we miss him tremendously. I mean, I'll get emotionally ambushed. Sometimes a certain Neil Young song will come on and I'll get all choked up. But, you know, enough time has passed and I'm just super grateful for the time I did have with dad the lessons he taught us the example he set for us, you know, both as husbands but his fathers were all trying really hard to live up to his standard, miss the heck out of them. But like I say, he's here with us every day.

Wyatt Pemberton:

So as a kid, what were your curiosities? No. And a lot of that. What did you want to be when you grew up? One day when you were going to Alan was going to be an adult and he's gonna have to adult one day. What did he want to be?

Alan Johnson:

I was going to be an investment banker in Boston who drove and jack Michael P. Keaton was my hero. So yes, I was born in 72. I'm a child of the 80s. And I don't know I think I watched the equalizer and saw an x j six with dove gray leather interior and a walnut dash and I had my whole life figured out by sixth grade. So that was my plan. vestment banker, Boston

Wyatt Pemberton:

Jaguar, and today you are jeeps and jaguars.

Alan Johnson:

Well, I always have a little bit of that Jaguar in there. That's how I drove an fJ for so long. So I didn't say Akshay and pretend it was either a Jeep or a Jaguar because they're both extremes. But no, I loved it. It was just something about that. That look in that feel I loved English cars. At the time. I thought I wanted money. Obviously I've had some life since then. And money's nice. Lord knows you got to pay the bills. But there's a lot more important things than that. And ironically, that's actually how it those are really a conflated story, if you will, I mean, let's be really clear. In school, I had no friends or social skills, I read books I was the drum major, you know, was pretty much me just shorter and fatter. It's just kind of the way it is. I actually had a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship to go to Boston University. That was my plan. And I that's how I was going to pay for school and do all that. And in between my junior and senior year of high school, ironically, I do have a story that starts with this one time at band camp, I was coming back from band camp, and fell asleep and just ran off the road 17 years old and went through the windshield and smashed my face, my nose and eye socket, cheekbone and lower jaw are all reconstructed, and quite frankly, should have died. That has been a massive impact and influence on my life both good and bad. But its first immediate influence was recorded once someone with a broken face. So when our ship and I dream of going Boston and my Jaguar and all that literally went away with a really long blink,

Wyatt Pemberton:

how did that impact you? I mean, mentally that had just destroyed you. Right?

Alan Johnson:

You know, it was weird. I went through a phase where Hey, you're 17 you almost die. You know, when you're 17 you feel bulletproof. Anyway, I went to the other extreme with a should have died. So who cares. And it was just really reckless for four or five years. Obviously, I talked a lot. I like to talk a lot. I like to use my power for good, if you will. And I try to encourage people and try to build them up. And I really try to look for the best in people. I was the opposite of that for about five years, I was pretty much a butthead. You know, as as fast as a friend as whatever.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I can't even imagine that I can't even imagine you like that.

Alan Johnson:

But it was it was true. It was one of those things where I had everything going for me. But there was a part of me going this is borrowed time anyway, screw it. And so just really didn't have my head on straight. Yet again, this is hysterical because there's a movie called sliding doors. I don't know if you've seen it. I'm sure we're not all huge Gwyneth Paltrow fans, but it's a fascinating movie about she's going down the stairs and misses the subway. And then it shows her going down the stairs and she catches the subway and in one instance, she goes home and catches her differenti any other she does, and it shows how her life goes down two different paths just because of one choice. And I would never have gone to Memphis state if I hadn't had my accident, I would never have met my wife, I would never have gone more towards the artsy side of things. Because I went the complete opposite of investment banker, and I became a history and music major started playing in bands. You know, I wouldn't have my kids if I hadn't had that wreck because I wouldn't have met my wife. So in retrospect, that's probably the most significant thing that ever happened to me good, bad and ugly. And it certainly colored my whole life since then.

Wyatt Pemberton:

So a real inflection point.

Alan Johnson:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. As you know, you may have two or three of those moments in your life. Sometimes you recognize in the moment, sometimes you don't. But looking back, that was absolutely an inflection point. You grow up really fast at that point. Yeah, it was super significant. never forgotten it. And to some degree or not, you know, people asked you have regrets this or that? I don't, I've done stupid stuff. I've done a bunch of stuff. But it's all led me to who and where I am. And I think it gives me empathy for people. I think it gives me a perspective to put myself in other people's shoes. And I think it's part of what drives me to want to help other people is just that level of empathy that came from being such an emotional and physical wreck at age 17.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I think you grew up you grew up a hard and fast at that point like you You went through will trauma I mean, that's exactly what Rama is reshaped? What was the catalyst to turn things around to embrace the embrace the suck? What was the thing that happened to you to flip the switch the other direction? Because that is 180 degrees, what you're describing 180 degrees from the guy that I know,

Alan Johnson:

you know, for me, honestly, it was church and kids. You know, Jared, I met Jennifer my freshman year of college proposed three months after meeting her and we were married eight months after I met her. I've never been known to be indecisive. That's the one we're coming up on 30 years this may but I mean, we grew up together so we took at least five or six years before you decide to have a family that's where a lot of a hard event and and fun stories that sometimes I remember and sometimes I don't come from but when she was pregnant, something about having babies tends to make moms to want to go to church and I wasn't going to find it I'd grown up in the church you know, I was my grandpa was a preacher for goodness sake. You know, I could play this game with church had changed a lot since I was a kid and it was a focus on a relationship with Christ. It was a focus on you know, forgiveness and serving others and love and really had to go through a lot of counseling and healing to learn to love myself before I could love others. But that was that was the real, you know, catalyst that changed who I was as a husband as a father. How I try to be in the day to day life. Again, I go down that route a long time people ask, and I know that's not what we're trying to do. But But for me, that was genuinely the difference maker. And something that continues to make a difference, you know, 22 years later,

Wyatt Pemberton:

we don't get to pick the things that shape us. Right? Yeah, they tend to happen. I mean, No, you're wrong. You choose to sign up in the Marine Corps. And they shape you right, that there are some of those instances. But yeah, by and large, it's passive. It's not a you know, active selection. So So Jennifer, when you guys were at Memphis state, you meet her. How did you first meet her? How did that go down?

Alan Johnson:

Oh, my goodness sakes. She is, first of all, just amazing. And she doesn't know how to work a podcast, so she will never hear this. So I say really nice things and not be self conscious about it. I was at her friend's house. I didn't know anyone had mentals right. This was a last minute decision to go to Memphis state because my whole life had just gone away in a car crash. And my roommate knew a buddy at someone's house and we went over there. And oh, my goodness, here was this beautiful woman who knew how to play cards. Playing cards is a big thing in my family hard spades. You know, just okie rummy all the stuff you play in a rural setting Lego with your grandparents and your great hands. She kicked my butt. She was so good at cards. And you know, we were also making a drinking game so I might have been a little drunk. By the end of the night. She was absolutely my hero. Well, turns out a roommate had a crush on to her both a couple little just let's see 18 year old freshman at college and we'd lay in our bunks. He's like, you're gonna ask her out? Yeah, yeah, I'll ask her out next night to ask her you know, would you mind if I ask her out? Yeah, you asked her out and we did this for two or three weeks, but we read a bonfire down on the Mississippi River and sidorenko really bad. And so is the funniest thing right when you're when you're least trying to impress someone is when you impress them the most first story and you may have discovered this but I've got a little bit of a mother hand instinct me as much as I like to show Bravo and on this wild crazy let's go do stuff when the chips are down. I typically like to take care of people and help so I picked her up carrier back with cards over Becca campus carry her up for three flights of stairs, but I sort of thing drove to the doctor whole nine yards. Literally not trying to be Mr. Impressive. And evidently, that's when I was Mr. Impressive. You really swept off her feet. Yeah, well, it helped that she fell. But you know, I was at least their catcher. And then you know, that's when we started you know, actually dating from there. She could see me as a as a life partner and someone that was the type of person that she would want to spend her life with. And, you know, for me, it was just love at first sight. She was she was pretty and she would talk to me, marry me. You know, I was I was all in,

Wyatt Pemberton:

it seemed off running. She's not

Alan Johnson:

we actually went through a period specially live in there in Arizona, we just had to figure out what that balance was, you know, I would get mad if she didn't want to go off roading with me because I took it as her you know, rejecting a sporting group of people I loved and she would get mad that I would want to go off roading after working all week and not want to spend time with her. And again, that's another area where some of the stuff they offered through the church, we went through some classes and learned to talk to each other and realized we were both wrong. So she's very supportive of racing and going out and off roading. You know, it's not her back. And so I stopped trying to really force her and drop her into that and we find stuff that we could do together that we enjoy. And we got a nice healthy balance, you know, for now, I'm sure I just changed it. But for right now we've got a good good healthy balance.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I swear you just described my wife. She fully supports all of this, but you won't catch her in the dirt. She's gone. And she's okay without it fully. Can

Alan Johnson:

you bet. And you know what, it took me a while to be okay with that. Because I'm obviously a little bit passionate about stuff. And why don't you love this as much as I love this, you know, I just haven't learned that, you know, not everyone sees the world the same way a different doesn't mean wrong. So that was that was really cool. took us years to get there. But it was really cool.

Wyatt Pemberton:

So you guys are effectively empty nesters right now, right?

Alan Johnson:

Yes, that's I guess I shouldn't be that excited about it. But yes. You're still in college, but you know, well, yes. And no. I mean, I was 22 years old. And he's got a full ride Air Force ROTC scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Thank you, everyone who's listening who pays taxes for helping pay for my son's education, and he will do his best to pay it back and, and talk about fishing waters like that boy was made for Air Force. I was really proud of him and the decisions he made in a mechanical engineering degree. That's why you say 250 or two, just a little bit of extra time. And you're so qualified for pilot at this point. So that's his dream is to be a pilot in the Air Force. So he's wrapping up one phase of his journey and about to, you know, this time next year, he'll be stationed somewhere. So that's interesting. And then my daughter who's 19, who I freaked out last week, I told her, Hey, you're almost 20 and she had a meltdown over 20 and give it time, you know? Talk to me again at 40 Which would be awesome because that would mean I was at so I would be really cool. She would talk to me at that, you know, she goes to a little small, private Christian university here up in Northwest Arkansas, and she's getting an art degree art and illustration, which you would think what you're paying for an art degree? Well, my art my wife's got a Bachelor of Fine Arts and painting also. So this is my second art degree I'm buying. And they're both for lovely women who love their art degrees.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, I had to look it up where she goes to school because it's she goes to john Brown University and, and everyone knows Myles, you know, and then myself, we're from the same little town in Kansas, in a town near us. Oh, slaughter mechanics is known for john brown that john Baron gymboree, john Brown, I know the history of john Brown, burning Kansas and all of all of that, that happened, you know, around slavery around the civil war that was john Brown is this, you know, this folk hero in our part of the world? And so I'm like, I didn't know his history. I don't feel like he was ever in Arkansas. So I had to go look at the university they what's the history of this? No, it's, uh, it was completely a completely different john Brown, which makes sense. JOHN Brown's two of the most common

Alan Johnson:

Oh, the other john Brown. Yeah, no other one. The university just celebrated their 100 year anniversary last year. It's run mostly with a foundation and gifts from alumni and stuff. And it's it's a much smaller school experience. Again, that's part of what we found. We visited lots of campuses with both kids and neither one was going after a particular degree that required them to go to a certain school for political reasons, right. They didn't have to go to Harvard to do this or didn't have to go to Stanford to do that. So we just wanted them to be a place where they were comfortable. We prayed about it. That's where they wanted to be, because it was important for them to finish what they committed to and the environment has a lot to do with that. Then I ruined Ivan. I wanted him to be a Razorback. So he grew up a Razorback fan, even though he lived in Arizona. So that's all he wanted to do. But that wasn't that wasn't Kate's five, she didn't particularly want to go to a big school. And she just fell in love with a small school, small class size, really quaint campus. And there's so proud as one of the things as parents, I know some of the people listening, don't have kids, some of the people listening have younger kids. And I'm telling you, it's really cool to not only love your kids, but to like your kids as well, as they become young adults. That's one of the most flattering thing as a parent to look at them and say, Hmm, they're actually good people. And and I'm proud of that. And again, it takes a village, but I don't know, just super proud of both kids. I think they're doing a great job. Yes, that's dad talking and I'm biased. That's fair. You know, people I've met Ivan will back up. You know, he's, he's decent. And you know, he's more like his mother. I kept Kate from everyone because she's more like me. And you know, no one needs to me's so we're good. That's,

Wyatt Pemberton:

well, are you guys, I mean, you're obviously Razorback fans. But has he been? Go to games now that you're up in that part of the world? I know this year has been fun, funky, but Arkansas has been playing. Have you made any of the games

Alan Johnson:

yet? This technical account is illegal record. We got screwed by the rest. By the way. We beat Auburn. I just want to say right now we should be doing more.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I was just about to bring that up, because that was one of the best games on last weekend.

Alan Johnson:

Oh, I'm a lifelong Razorback fan. And we've got a 20 year cycle. We're great in the late 60s. We sucked in the 70s great in the last 80 sucked in the 90. So you know we're midway through the suck cycle again. So it's really nice to have coach Sam Pittman and to have some hope and competitive football team. But yeah, he lived on campus, his first two years directly across from Reynolds Razorback Stadium, being in ROTC, he did the color guard for most of those fact he pulled some strings and got me in as accredited media. So if anyone asked driving line shot at University of Arkansas game at one point, I got to get on the sidelines. And you know, technically I was shooting the color guard. But yeah, very involved in campus life and has done zero data solid and helped me be involved in campus life as well.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, I don't even have words for that. That's, that's super cool. So you have been fully involved up there. Well done. Yeah. I love it. I want to jump back to a Memphis state story. So what year did you graduate Memphis state

Alan Johnson:

actually only went to Memphis state in 1991. That's where I met Jennifer. We both couldn't afford out of state tuition. So we moved back to Arkansas after we got married and went to the University of Central Arkansas. So I went to school there in 1991. But I lived there in 94. I lived there in 97 and 98. So I've got quite a Memphis history.

Wyatt Pemberton:

You said history. How did you end up with a history? Major history? How does how does one decide that's gonna be their passion of study?

Alan Johnson:

You know, I love reading, remembering and learning. And history was great because not only could you read, which again, I just, I've always got a book that's why I do on planes. I just I really enjoy reading. Mostly fiction doesn't matter. I just like reading But history was also about understanding and thinking and drawing conclusions. And no, no, it was just it was it was fascinating to me because you could learn from it. And I sucked at math. So that was about as far away from math as I could possibly get. So yeah, that was my field of study was as a history major.

Wyatt Pemberton:

That is fascinating. I ran away from

Alan Johnson:

I suck at math, I had a math teacher pulled me aside, said, Alan, stop trying to figure out why math works, just use the formula. And that was my problem. I was trying to figure out why physics worked. And I am not wired to figure out why physics or calculus or any of that stuff works. I just need to memorize the formula and go on. And that was actually one of my first areas to realize, you don't have to know everything, surround yourself with people that are experts in those areas. And I learned real quick, I was not the math expert. So I have always professionally and personally surrounded myself with people that are better than me. I'm never the smartest guy in the room, I'm in the wrong room. And I learned that in a math class.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, I think, you know, along those lines, you know, I almost think that's a cliche at this point, the smartest guy in the room, you know, the whole Enron story on that. My belief on that is surround yourself with people that you aspire to be if your dreams are to do whatever x surround yourself with people that are doing x and are the best doing x. Don't be sitting here wanting to be an X, but you're surrounding yourself with white people.

Alan Johnson:

So I partially agreed for professionally, I love to surround myself with people that I aspire to be and I look for people around me that I aspire to be you know, it's I almost feel selfish every you're a king of hammers, because I get paid to have a master class with me. You know, Emily Miller is a friggin genius. And I get paid to learn working with someone I aspire to be like, but I also like to spend time around everybody, you know, you can learn something from everybody and everyone doesn't have to be a mentor or a hero. Everyone's got a got a story. So I like to just surround myself with people. I try to pick and choose who I emulate and want to follow. I just I just really enjoy being around people. Now there are some individuals I don't enjoy being around people in general. I'm just I'm really drawn to groups like that.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, I my statement on that is I love humans. I hate people. That's fair. That's kind of where I'm at. I like it though. You're I love the human race. I love you know, there's so many so many friends but you know, on a macro level, abs a frickin lately on a micro level. Oh, man, man, some some of these. Some of these folks, you know, you just want to have their, you know, ask them have they had their head examined. But then I'm certain they're looking directly back at me saying and thinking the exact same thing. So

Alan Johnson:

I'm trying really hard to figure out why Dave wanted to put someone who likes people who seems to get along with everybody in a communication social media position. It just seems like a real mismatch, you know, for personality type in job role.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, Dave likes everybody. I mean, he's a real people person. That's

Alan Johnson:

exactly

Wyatt Pemberton:

the same. Seems redundant. So I just always asked myself, what would Dave do? And that's how I handle almost every situation, the bridge that you have to cross before you get into that mindset is he likes you as long as you agree with him. If you don't agree, we're not giving Dave enough credit. You know, I was

Alan Johnson:

gonna say not necessary, not necessarily not Yes. We're all people. We all like where we're coming from. But part of why I'm even at ultra for frankly, is I get to see a different side of day, I get to see something that makes it worth my time to be there and invest in a sport that I like. And a lot of it truly is, you know, beyond the blow up on us side of things, which has actually gotten much better at he genuinely cares he'll do anything for about anyone. I tried to have a conversation with him last week where we need to talk business he spent 10 minutes bragging on how awesome his daughter's doing playing bass guitar you know so that's that's the Dave I know and love and really enjoy doing stuff with with ultra for

Wyatt Pemberton:

No, I will fully back you up on that Dave has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Yep. There was a wreck in Las Vegas a couple of races ago, invest in the desert and it was a fatality accident. There was a truck that got totaled and some things it was it was all around nasty. Dave was trying to get in touch with you know, it was an ultra for driver who was going to be in that race truck and the race truck was on the trailer it came off and was sitting in the middle of the interstate it was just all around bad. Dave was trying to get a hold of that that guy to say hey, I have a brand new Ford sitting over there and oval ovilus Can you all I guess all of his Ford they're in Vegas. You're welcome to it for all of extra Reno, go get the truck use it. And that ultimately didn't end up taking Dave up on the offer but for do to offer up a zero mile f i think is an F for 50. Just go get it use it for the race and we know what how trucks get treated on races. They are You know, they're they're workhorses of the desert, but they get lived in for days and it's they're not the best well taken care of or cared for, it's kind of the goal is still get the racecar across the line. So,

Alan Johnson:

again, you know, Dave, Dave stave and he'll be the first one to tell you Dave is Dave, you know, good, bad and ugly but you know who he is and where you stand and I certainly have enjoyed getting to know him better. And to see that side of him because I just got to see a razor side for five years. And looking at it from the other end I can't believe as calm as he is. It is frickin insane the week it king of the hammers all the demands that's going on everything that could potentially go wrong. So you know, a change of perspective certainly changed my my view and retract a level on that.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, he subscribes to our theory that we've been discussing here it even nine in theory, a mantra about surrounding yourself with the best surround yourself with the best and he has done an amazing job of you know, from Ryan Thomas to JT Taylor, to you, to Emily Miller to I mean, the list goes on and on and on. It is a laundry list of it's an all star team.

Alan Johnson:

It's learning I don't know man that JT characters kind of sketchy. I wonder crap cheese outside my window.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Sorry. Exactly with with a fork, he knew I was going to say that no. And again, that's what I'm drawn to, you know, the ultra 14, but also the drivers the ecosystem around it. It's just a really cool thing that attracts really interesting and smart and innovative people. And that is very, very attractive to me. So again, part of why I love the sport and the family and ultra for specifically is it really attracts quality people zero disagreement from this side of the microphone. Let's talk about Nashville. How on earth and when did you end up in Nashville doing what you're doing? Because I'm gonna let you roll that out. You're gonna have to tell us why you were in Nashville and for four years that you were living there. Why? Because I'm I'm flipping curious. Just so curious at this point. aside, I'd never thought I'd say I love Nashville. And in fact, until I had a love affair with Phoenix, that was the favorite place I had ever lived antastic town but yeah, this was mid 90s everyone was getting out of college at the time. I played music since second grade piano player. You play the drum too, right?

Alan Johnson:

No, no, I play guitar and bass but not Trump's like program drums. Talk about influential Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails just changed my life musically, when I realized I can have a band with a laptop, I traded a car for a laptop to sequence music. And that was in Nashville, ironically. But at this point, I'm 2223 24 ish. You know, everyone's done the college thing. My wife's got her degree. We don't have a family yet. And the band was going pretty good. So we decided to take a couple of years and move to Nashville with the whole rest of the band. The band's name was Stevens law. We lived in a big two story house with a basement. You know, we all took night jobs so we could practice your in the day and not piss the neighbors off. And, you know, we made a serious run and playing music for two or three years and, you know, loved it. We were good. We were fun. Obviously, it didn't pan into a career. But that was again one of those things where I'm so grateful I got a chance to just live that Gypsy life and chase that dream and not spend my whole life wondering, you know, what if, and my wife was selling paintings at the time, but again, all these things working together. My part time job was kinkos. I work Sunday through Thursday at kinkos. Not only can I get free flyers I could be off on Friday and Saturday to go gigging. But that's where I learned Macintosh. That's where I learned how to use computers. And again, skill sets that literally pay for a much better paying job today was learned working at a kinkos in Nashville in the mid 90s. So that was a blast. We got to travel, got to do all our stuff, all the standard band things you know, I cannot tell you how grateful I was to actually celebrate my first New Year's Eve and not be playing. But yeah, piano players a part of me and that was fun to let that be the main focus for a good 40 years and I still play I still play regularly I played in church for years we were there and in Nashville taught both my kids how to play so music is a big part of my escape and what I do, I love road tripping. You know, I drive from Arkansas to Johnson Valley every year. Part of it is just to listen to tunes in the car and see God's country and do backroads and stuff like that. So very much is a key part of who I am and what I am and it's all different styles and genres. I lived in Memphis and Nashville for so long blues has ruined me you can put me in front of a Hammond B three Oregon and start a one four or five blues riff and we will drink beer and play music for the next six hours straight. You know you give me a good ZZ Top cover band and stuff like that. And that's just right in my my wheelhouse. But yeah, Nashville was fantastic. And towards the end of it, we decided it was time you know to start a real job. So I've been married for seven years at that point, and Jeff and I were ready to start a family and work took me to Memphis at the time. And that's how we left Nashville. But always just one of my favorite places and having your memory you build something up as kind of that golden period. And Nashville was kind of my golden period. It was mid 20s. Doing Stuff You love with people you love. pretty magical time. I'm sure it wasn't as awesome as my memory thinks it is. But absolutely one of my favorite towns on the face of the planet.

Wyatt Pemberton:

We have the ability to romanticize about those things, right. When you look back at memories or you think back to memories, yeah, you definitely romanticize them, they get glossy, right? You glossy them, you gloss them up a little.

Alan Johnson:

But that's okay. No hugging, hugging those warm, glossy memories get you through some cloudy days, every once in a while. And, you know, again, you kind of have to have that comfort memory to go to because as we're all aware, some days, you know, suck. But it's just always fun to take that trip back to you know this or that we we actually went back last summer our daughter wanted to take a trip for she went to her freshman year of college and she wanted to go to Nashville. she'd heard us talk about it her entire life. And we went and saw the old house. She drink coffee at the old coffee house we drank at by Bellevue University and it was fascinating to experience Nashville through my 18 year old daughter's eyes as she was going to record stores and discovering things that we had discovered at about her same age, you know, 20 years before so. I don't know still a cool town romanticized or not, I always have learned to look forward. What's the next thing you can't go back. I love hanging on and hugging those old memories, particularly the the warm, shiny ones. And certainly Nashville.

Wyatt Pemberton:

So you guys went from Nashville to Memphis for work. And then somewhere in there, you end up moving to Phoenix.

Alan Johnson:

Yeah, sucked in Little Rock for a little bit too. Like I say, We lived up and down. I 40. I'd spent probably 10 years in retail account kinkos like retail, and I was out golfing with a buddy from church, a guy named Ted clauser. And he goes, man, you talk a lot. Have you considered sales? Like, no, but I do talk a lot. And he owned a small computer company called PC assistance. And they were going to start selling this dental software called, you know, dentrix. And I didn't know anything about software, didn't know anything about sales and barely went to the dentist. Sure I man. And that, you know, honestly stars. That was in the year 2000. That started a 20 year career in dentistry. That again, no one sits down and says, ooh, I want to be in dentistry my whole life. It you turn around and blink and you spent 20 years in a certain industry. It's a pretty amazing journey. But that was the big pivot. And that, you know, spent two or three years in Arkansas selling software there and had an opportunity to go into a consulting role to apply my business background, my computer software development background and my sales background. Do it as a as a business consultant for a firm and in Phoenix. So that's how we ended up there is we're never been out there didn't really pick it. But you know, the Lord put things on your heart and I felt it was the right thing. And my wife came to me and felt it was the right thing. And we took a big step of faith which is a story unto itself and literally found the next phase of our life and where our kids grew up and some of the closest people that we consider family in our lives. You know, Bob McNeely and mandra. McLachlan and Michael Dobby and others. All came from the 12 years we spent in Phoenix. My kids consider Phoenix home. You know, that's what they they grew up. They were five and seven when we moved so to them. Phoenix was home. Oh, wow.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, that's a I can absolutely see that. So well. Let's talk about your role today. You're still selling dental software, you work for Patterson, Patterson dental very big, you know, dental company, were you with them and Phoenix, or were you did they allow you to move anywhere?

Alan Johnson:

Tom, that was kind of a funny story. I worked for them for four years and Little Rock took a different opportunity which took me to Phoenix, it's still in the dental area. In fact, it was working with small businesses. That's actually part of what got me into marketing, working with marketing with small businesses, such as dentists and, you know, developing teams and recruiting the right players and doing business strategies. And, again, my whole working career has been like getting paid to go to college. It's really, really cool. Well, it was so cool that Patterson dental bought us seven years ago. So suddenly, I was the old new guy that came over we developed a software called on track which was goal setting and, and metrics and matrix and things where again, you'd set goals that measured your performance. This is some one of the early cloud software's and it was it was something that they wanted to buy. So I found myself back at Patterson but but much higher up the food chain at that point. So I've been very involved in building new software living in the cloud space. One of the things I'm really good at and I don't say this, you know, braggy I just say And again, knowing your strengths and knowing your opportunities, I'm good at envisioning things I'm good at picturing the final product. I really like coming up with creative solutions. I'm not so good at the details between here and there. So I got to work with a team where I could help dream new software, and how do we migrate to the cloud? And how do we, you know, really make the user experience you know, really good. And I've been partnered with a phenomenal development team that's much smarter than me that can actually go build that stuff. So again, it's kind of a weird day job for me. And it's, it's funny, there's a whole group of people who only know me and suits and there's a whole group of people who only know me and cammo cargo shorts and my dusty known persona. But you know, they're all different parts of me ways to be creative ways to make a difference ways to impact people. I just love the off road part a lot more. But the not off road part pays a lot better.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, yeah, for sure it does. I get a crack up out of your, your, your social media selfies, you are this king of the once I get on the airplane, I sit down and take a selfie. And for all of us who you know, we know you clearly have a life outside of off road clearly have a life outside of ultra for where you're not wearing a black flat belt flexfit cap not wearing a pair of sunglasses, not having a What do you call the the the dust kind of towel, it's not towel, but it's a rag that you wrap around your head. It's a it's a small, but my daughter calls it my off road scarf. So it has become known as my off road scarf here at the house. And you're routinely pictured in that so that's so when you have this, this image, you know, that's the image and that's what's burned our head but then you go to social media and you see Alan sitting on a plane clean to clean shaven, no hat no sunglasses, no schmuck, you know, around you, you know, you're you're good.

Alan Johnson:

And that's half the joke. Obviously, I like to joke I like to have fun. The airplane selfie actually started with Michael Dobby and a part of the higher ground four by four club. Michael hates selfies, hates social media, hates self absorbed a holes that take selfies all the time. So of course, my job was to take a selfie all the time when I'm in an airport or a plane and do it in black and white because that makes it artsy. And it just kind of turned into its own thing. I mean, I love that you appreciate and get a kick out of that. But that's literally the back end of a seven year practical joke between Michael Dobby and i that is one of my favorite things about travel.

Wyatt Pemberton:

The long play. That's what that is. That's just a long play. It

Alan Johnson:

is. Hey, just be glad we didn't start with bathroom shots or my social media would be a completely different animal.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, no, I'm it right. Okay. I think like, like locks would appreciate that. Roxy likes her good bathroom, she will take pictures of bathroom stall doors. That's her times

Alan Johnson:

get I'm scared to death of Roxy. So whatever Roxy says is right. Amen.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, exactly. I think that's what most everyone else has implemented as well with her through all of this pandemic, and you know, working remotely and zoom calls and video calls, which was interesting enough that my whole setup, I don't know what's going on. I've just had a kind of a bad run of interviews that the interviews have been awesome the contents. But it's been, yeah, I'm blaming, you know, it's just, uh, the equipment I had mines to get. It's sometimes I'll get it's like the Fae or the mind, or it's the Black Knights. It's been kind of nonstop. I changed microphones here recently for this fall. I think I'm going to change them back. I think I think that's it. I messed with. I messed with the good thing. And that's like the old the ultra four thing, right? If it's not broke, don't fix it. And I and I, I tinkered. I feel like I feel like the world is coming apart on that. But where I was going with that was, you actually put on your questionnaire, you had a funny story, and I assume is during the pandemic, that you're doing a zoom call that you're wearing your Oh, god, you're wearing your dress shirt tie.

Alan Johnson:

Only, you know, I'll set the I'll set the stage a little bit here. This was in Arizona, when I was younger and still cared. And we had just built this this new software. So

Wyatt Pemberton:

there's even bonuses that

Alan Johnson:

anyone can relate this this is I was still a junior executive at the time and this was back before you know Patterson had bought us. And this was actually my Big Shot. The big bosses were setting up a demo with Patterson dental. And I was going to get to demo this new software on track. So you know me, man, I overthink everything. I'm like, okay, I want to get up early. I want to go to the office. I'm more comfortable in the office, I'll be in my environment. I'm going to crush it. And I got up early and I made my cup of coffee and sat down number cleaner next to know the why they can go on and he didn't happen to work this morning. So I jump up just in a panic. I had fallen asleep. In the chair, I'm in my drawers. You know, I spilled coffee all over me, I've got two minutes to get set up for this demo. So I set everything up, nick of time I login just in time to hear, you know, our president at the time, say, Alright, so we're going to turn it over to Alan to give the presentation. I walk up completely lock up the words and the bands, the pen based on the band, look at the pretty colors. I mean, something I spent two years of my life building I couldn't even articulate and just just friggin froze, just died. But my CEO at the time recognizes us, you know what, we're having a little bit of a connection problem, we're going to give Alex a chance to get reconnected, let me tell you a story. You know, so he provides me cover, I step around the table, trip over the cord, fall on the floor, catch my laptop land in the dog bowl, there's water everywhere, and my wife comes running around the corner. And evidently, my face just said, unemployed because she starts calling down Jesus and Moses and Abraham and every saint known demand and I'm dropping f bombs left and right. And then you know, scared I hadn't unplugged my microphone, and maybe I was bombing them and just total complete panic and get everything set back up. Just in time to hear Dave say, so we'll turn it back over to Alan, then I get a bit Mo Mo. So it is one of those things. But you know, just the image of they didn't know that I'm in my drawers laying in dog water in my kitchen in Phoenix about to have a heart attack because I'm blowing my shot. That always stuck with me. So I'm really enjoying watching everyone learn how to do zoom and work from home and be out of their comfort zone. And I've thoroughly enjoyed watching other people have their dog bowl moments trying to figure out technology. It's been highly entertaining. See what goes on. Behind cam if you will, when people don't know their cameras on.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Or even when they know the cameras on. It's it's absolutely ridiculous. Like I can't tell you how many like teams meetings I've had. And last week, you know, just in the last month, couple months, six months, eight months. You know, what are we we're eight months into this 14 day,

Alan Johnson:

right? Hey, that that that curve should be flattened Pretty soon, right? Oh, yeah. No, I still have people to this day, especially now that I'm working for Paterson network in that meeting. But every once in a while, they'll just look at me and say the plan is the plan based on the plan. Look at the pretty colors. Why are you working for us, you moron and we all just laugh and have a good kick out of it. But well, that was one of the most panic moments involving technology. I think I'd ever had no pants dog bowl doing the biggest presentation in my life.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Well, I appreciate you telling that story because that's a pretty that's a pretty bad story.

Alan Johnson:

It's really bad if you visualize because it works

Wyatt Pemberton:

well there there were there was a scene a top young memory burned

Alan Johnson:

don't don't we don't need to contribute to the national drinking habit of people picturing me and tighty whities so we'll just move right on.

Wyatt Pemberton:

And on that note so you're in Phoenix and you started get you get into offered How did that leap happen? did was it a Jeep? Was it a Toyota? Was it a group of guys was a co workers How did you end up in that scene? And how did you end up like running around with like Andrew mcglothlin and that company?

Alan Johnson:

Yeah, you know, I had a motorcycle when I was younger but I made the mistake of it being my daily driver and you know got hit by a little old lady and I have a fake knee wedding so I knew her supposed to never really be thinking even though I love and respect them and I'm super Jared jealous of Terry and everyone you know in this motorcycle, you know culture. It's just it's just not going to happen for me. But we moved to Arizona I was flying most of the time so I didn't need a great gas mileage car. The weather was perfect. So I bought a 91 Tj or 91 y j one inch body lift 31 prone to bumper brush are drawn for your eye with every starter kit you know Jeep Wrangler out there but i don't care i loved it I top took the top off took the doors off it was a jungle gym for the kids you know we do such soul crushing trails is back way to crown King and think we had really accomplished something but what it did was help us fall in love with a desert fall in love with the state fall in love with exploring and through that I got connected with higher ground four by four local Jeep club fact I met them when I was going to look at buy another Jeep and you know me I'm a shy quiet wallflowers nice walk them started talking to him we all became buddies and just again someone absolute best friends and brothers to this day and started started Wayland now Andrew was part of The Undertaker's Arizona Undertaker's being bad boy off road club there in Arizona. You know high higher ground our our symbol was the you know, Jesus lifted off road higher so you know, we were the Christian boys you would call to go We'll with you if you had a hard obstacle you want to Jesus you know to we'll with you But our approach was always one of just be ourselves. You know, we didn't beat anyone over the top we were friends with everybody but they knew we were Christians and nobody went to church and that was kind of our deal and it was fun ran with Arizona rock grads back in the day that was really cool group of people Joe Daro hackl all those guys I know I'm dating said all their zone people but the regrets were a big influence on me of wanting to get you know, tons and four DS and all that type of jazz. And I did I'd worked my way up I bought a Jeep it actually turned out to be toys by Troy's all this competition, cheap aluminum everything for you know, Atlas whole nine yards. I way too much Jeep for me, I had no idea how to drive it, but I liked it, you know, got to be a rock crawler. Well, that was also coming up on my 40th birthday. And that was also when Dave announced this every man challenge. And I'm not gonna say it was a midlife crisis. But who doesn't want to be a racecar driver?

Wyatt Pemberton:

Absolutely,

Alan Johnson:

everybody. So that became my 40th birthday resin myself, this was six months out, you know, the club's going to get together, we're going to go do a Jeep race. It was everybody's, you know, build the car in the garage. And Andrew was on one of the boards and reached out to me and said, Hey, I'm racing this year to in the 4400 class, I would like to have a modified and a stock, would you you know, I'll help you if you'll help me. And that's where I really got to know Andrew and the West roll off road racing team and man just immediately got engaged into a subculture that I fell in love with you did a lot of the drive raises early hours, one of the biggest influences on me early, because honestly, if I've got to give anyone credit for where I'm at now, in what I'm doing, we were sitting in a really cheap hotel in Tucson. She was kind of going through a driver school meeting for everyone. She says, All right, everyone points the person on your team. That's a nerd that's always on their phone. And they all point to me and started laughing. Right, I was the immediately identified nerd on the team. And she says, that's one of the most important people on your team. And then she talked about more and you know what, Andrew, really embrace that, you know, even though I can't Well, I can't fabricate. I mean, I am just in all of these people who can take metal and do worse and harder. So my inefficient brilliance in our sport. And again, I'm just in awe, because I can't do that. But I can't tell stories and do to marketing and help put together sponsors and I speak marketing. So when we're talking about impressions and marketing campaigns, and how we're going to do this and do that, it helped me find a place on the team. And Andrew, besides being a really good friend helped the rest of the team value that role. So that's part of how we worked with Aesop. That's part of how we kind of expanded our out of market. And, you know, always a lot of fun, everyone's poking fun at you, they still I can't even show a wrench on Facebook without 15 people reminding me I'm not allowed to touch tools. But you know, there's a lot just, you know, dig in, but that's how I got to your landlords. That's how I got to introduce and man it was just an addiction, you know, went once and just couldn't believe it. Went to the next race race dirt Ryan, you know, big rich and Shelly for the time period they were running that Darius was exactly what it needed to be for drivers like me and Andrew to learn how to race learn how to break our vehicles. It was a wonderful farm Lee, that you raced in. You did. And you made sure racing was for you. And then you moved up to ultra for. So it was 2014 I guess before I started really racing ultra for so I spent 2012 and 2013 kind of racing dirt. Right.

Wyatt Pemberton:

So had you been to a team in the hammers prior to men in your trophy tears? 1400

Alan Johnson:

Oh, no, no. Yes. And that and that first year, that was such a cluster. I know. We said we couldn't drop other words. So I'll just say cluster and everyone can fill in the blank. That first year the AMC I think we showed up on Saturday. we raced on Sunday, most of us had to be back at work on Monday. We didn't even get to see king of the hammers that year. We had no idea what we were doing. So I don't feel like I truly experienced king of the hammers until 2013. And I'm to the point now where I can spend 10 or 12 days and it is just literally the seminal event I scheduled my whole year around is my king of the hammers time. That is the end all be all for me. But yeah, I shoot I'd never I didn't even really know what king of the hammers was other than, you know, Tony Pellegrino and Joe Daro talking about it in the shop every once in a while. And this was two or three years in and no one thought of it last But hey, I didn't care I was racing. I got to be a racecar driver. And now look where it is. Right

Wyatt Pemberton:

right. Charlene is amazing. She's She's also one of the first people in the scene in the certainly the California offered scene that I got to interact with and you know, she was involved with Dave brought her in. Jeff no brought her in, back in 2009. And I had the distinct, amazing adventure of spinning. It was like four or five days and an hour. With her and Wayne, Israel Sen and BSI Wow, that this Lawson brothers, Adam Woodley. Oh my god. I mean, I just could start going Chris poop. I mean, just just a band Barcroft Johnny, we made seriously,

Alan Johnson:

I'm so glad that bus didn't crash.

Wyatt Pemberton:

It was a pretty loaded bus. But yeah, Charlene, and Wayne, I mean, you can't get burned up. But yes, she was a, she's something else. And you never saw her without a camera or a camera bag back in back in those days, and even still somewhat today, but which is kind of how when I see you, even if I see buzzing around you all, we still have your big camera with you.

Alan Johnson:

Well, that sound actually got started. You know, you do that first year racing. And you you go to look for your assets, because you're trying to make your sponsors happy. You're trying to build social media presence. And you know, let's be honest, that first year racing, let's roll off road, you know, we weren't Campbell enterprises, right? It wasn't like, there were 50 you know, photographers out there just looking for our car, we'd be thrilled if we could see the corner of a quarter panel in a passing shot, you know, and because that was a need for the team. And I've always had a creative background anyway, whether it was with computers or graphic design, or music or whatever, that some some really high quality people, you know, will Gentile I talked about already, but Kyle wells, Doug Denali, Ryan de Du Pont de I mean, these guys didn't give me all their secrets, but they were accepting and open and held encouraged me, and would share tips or tricks that I really watched them to see how race photographers behaved, how they work, how they interacted with teams, and I just loved their work. And so it gave me something to to emulate. And that's what I did, I would go out and I would I would shoot our stock class car, I would hop in my car, I would race a modified race, I would get out and I would grab a camera and I go shoot Andrews 4400 car, just so we had some content for our own marketing and then it turned into you know, hammers week and I would shoot all the other races and I can just kind of work my way up blue collar through the ranks just like by putting in work. But even then, you know, my approach, I knew I was no, you know, Cowell's, I would position myself at race mile three. And I would be mom and just make sure I got a picture of everybody, you know, because some cars don't make it to race mile for. So that's, that's how I got to know quite a few people was just making sure I took it and just practice rep after rep after rep and trying to learn from those around me and continuing to emulate people whose work I admire. And it just it just kind of happened it became a thing. And then JT started calling me the the shutter gnome. And let's be frank, I'm five, seven, when I stand up straight, I'm not exactly you know, pro football material. So the known parts stuck. And I'd always tell my kids, you know what, lean into it. Don't get offended about it. Just lean into it. I was seeing I just kind of invented this dusty known persona, because those social media handles were available on on Instagram. And that kind of became an outlet for this Alter Ego photographer who wanted nothing more than to be padovani in his life. I want to be that cool Italian dude who travels the world and takes photos and it's just so cool. And you know, that'll never happen. But it's good to have aspirational dreams. When the time came to stop racing, which again, racing is in my blood and my heart and I miss it every single time I hear a car startup, you'll never get that out of you. But races in my opinion are won and lost in between the races. And my day job and my family obligations were keeping me for prepping the car to a level that was up to anyone's standard. And it makes more sense to step away from racing since I couldn't do my best. I really don't like hat passing stuff.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, I was definitely gonna ask you that like what was what was the you know, we all have our you know, everything must come to an end right? All good things come to an end and and you come to realization and what that ends up looking like for you. And I was curious. So what that was that ended up taking us that's

Alan Johnson:

what it was, you know, we were breaking in a new car. This was the I believe card, the one that we literally, honestly started for the first time 20 minutes for the green flag. The King of the hammers were ATMs tuning the shocks trying to burp air out. And the very first time I drove that car with a green flag again, the hammers out here. In fact, we went off the first two jumps. And after the second jump the steering wheel to come off. I was in my hand. And I looked at my co driver. And he looked at me and we just laughed and we put the steering wheel back on and you know, we were racing kicking the hammers, it's all part of the adventure.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I've had that conversation with multiple people recently that have all had that same experience where they've lost the wheel, the steering wheel,

Alan Johnson:

and it honestly it just it wasn't fair for the team either that I didn't have time to prep it and their energy and building it and being at the races weren't being rewarded. So there was strategic It was hard. My son co drove with me all of those years. I mean How awesome is that? on some are able to restart right? And what's your favorite music Glenda Lin To this day, so he was about to graduate college and it was just kind of the end of an error. But here's where photography allowed me to stay connected with a sport that I loved. You know, by that point, I had built up some friendships, I was doing some freelance work for driving line I was, you know, the headshot guy at this point. Anytime you needed a headshot for something, I was already taking my people pics. So I was able to really transition from being a driver, but still getting to be at every event by contracting with driving wine. And they were gracious enough to let me write the stories. And, again, always be the secondary photographer. I was never going to step on the Kyle wells and Shannon Whitmore and you know, all the people who were their main photographers, that was their deal, but I loved it. And it helped me enjoy the sport differently. Because I wasn't under a car or stressed about my strategy or things like that. And, you know, my wife was happy because as we're all aware, you don't make money racing a racecar. No, not at all. Now, all of a sudden, I'm making money going to races. Now my hobby was paying for itself, which was pretty cool. And again, being a people person. I learned really quick. If I couldn't make the race in person call people on their drive home on Sunday. You know, sometimes it was good. And sometimes you got Tom ways Saturday disagreed with him time was on in Kentucky. But you know what, you always got an authentic story from people in the heat of the moment. And that's what I tried to do was, was bring that into the writing. And I think one of the biggest compliments I ever got was actually from Eric Miller, who said, when people ask what I do, I haven't read your stories, because I think they can relate to what you do. And that just meant so much. I wasn't writing from a technical aspect. I wasn't trying to prove to anyone how smart I was anyone else was just wanted to share what I loved with anyone who would read it and look at it. And again, I'm so grateful to Kristin and the whole crew driving line for giving me that opportunity. I'm honestly still torn. I get to do a lot of that for older for now, which is which is great. But there was something kind of cool about being freelance SEO and photographer who I could take off my corporate persona and just go be the dusty gnome in the desert for a week or go chase cars and baja is a tremendously relaxing and fulfilling escape for me to get to be that photographer character for a little while.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah, just a relief. No, you bet. The thing that really gets me as I grow through photography, certainly headshots and certainly looking at looking at at race coverage. It's to the point and I've told you this, we've had this discussion in the past I can, I can tell you, not always but for the most part, I can tell you who the photographer is, by the photo, I don't even have to see their their icon or their magic or whatever to the side or their name. You see, I tell when it's Shana Whitford, I can tell when it's on a sky, I can tell when it's Ryan diamante, I can tell when it's you. And you guys have these very, you talked about you sitting out there at race while three and getting a just be a mom and taking pictures of everyone. But those reps, you got your style, and you figured out what worked and what didn't work and you were honing your craft, and you hone your craft in a certain way. In no one. I mean, its signature, like I said, it's it's so signature, it's so it's crazy. And then those guys are and ladies, they've done exactly the same thing. And I find that I think that's for me, I find that to be a pretty cool deal that they made a you know, visual representation, that is their signature, they don't even need to watermark it. Like it's, you know whose it is.

Alan Johnson:

And, and again, a history major. So I tend to look at the past and analyze it shocked how much photography was similar to music. You know, a strat sounds different than a Les Paul. So your Nikon guys are going to shoot a little bit different than your Canon guys. Certain people develop and hone certain sounds, to where you don't even know who the song is, you know, that slash, you know, that's, you know, the late Eddie Van Halen, you know, who that is based on their sound. And I early on certain discovering the same thing and again, that's why I bring up the, the kind of the world and the wills of the world. You know, they were signature sounds that really appealed to me visually that I wanted to at first you emulate and then you do theme and variation and figure out what makes that your voice and the other thing I love doing quite frankly is encouraging new photographers to get into the sport I'm uniquely positioned to be able to do that now with my role at you know ultra for we have to you know, crack down for hammers a little bit I mean, that's one of the bane of our existence is how many iPhone photographers show up and try to pretend they're actual media. I mean, I get influenced those are important and this and that, but we limit media at King of the hammers intentionally again after I got a ton of respect For Emily and her vetting process, but at the regional races at Nationals always like to encourage whether you're shooting for a team or a local news outlet, or this is just something that appeals to you, you know, fill out the media application come to the meetings, I try to partner people up with, you know, seasoned photographers. So that, you know, obviously, we want people to be safe, but we also want to do good work and tell great stories. And so I think having that background helps me just be really sensitive to wanting to be an inclusive place that brings in creatives creates a place for them to really tell their story. and by extension, tell the story of our family tell the story of the racers tell the story of the support teams, you know, just at our berries crew that came down to frickin sample epay I mean, they traveled as a unit I thought it was a rock concert coming through is all just friends and family and multi generational matching t shirts that come to every event now their family just as much as the ultra Ford crew and to capture those stories and to see that and to participate even vicariously through that type of feeling is just something that helps people feel good and feel a part of it. Even if they can't be there.

Wyatt Pemberton:

You're telling us this and I've seen this firsthand and and I went through a Ronda howl you guys you know this is her first event was to shoot was actually hammers now you guys know it was processed that only is processed let me so obviously there are some flaws in the system.

Alan Johnson:

It's a flaw it's a flawed system. We're still refining yes

Wyatt Pemberton:

we're gonna work the bugs out maybe next year, but Rhonda you know end up shooting kale ah and she's she is a you know, a very good photog and but she's she's like I'm still learning I'm still figuring things out and I see her work and I'm just like I think you've got it I mean I think you're good her acceptance into that world and being paired up with different people to go out you all those photographers at the races they they do they kind of click together like where's you know they all do their homework together. I said okay, these are good site you know, these are good locations this time of the race this time of the day. And then we move and they all kind of team up I found that to be not that they were nomadic, but they are kind of nomadic.

Alan Johnson:

Yeah. Yeah, it's really interesting. My new home on the lake beds, actually the media tent. And I know that sad I tried to go down and see let's roll every chance I get I try to go hang out with the ultra for crew is but you know, that media tent is really where I found a second family out on the lake bed. It's its own subculture. And interestingly enough, and Rhonda is a great example. I think she's a phenomenal photographer. I don't think she gives herself enough credit for the work that she does. And I try to encourage her or find opportunities every chance I can for her to shoot. But that kind of became my role on the lake bed, if you will, even when I was shooting for driving line. I just have this drive to include people what's going on? So I would look for new photographers, I would look for people who looked lost I would always volunteer to Emily Hey, if you need people driven around the lake bed I've got a couple extra seats I'll take them out. I didn't view anyone as competition I viewed as a chance to really be an ambassador for the sport and if these press people and if these photographers had a great experience and had great content that would be reflective in their story. And so that's where Shannon and I got to know each other pretty well talk about another you know mentor Shannon Welsh was just really someone influential on what I did and how involved I was. And I always like to volunteer and you know work for right as most of my classes shows joke about Shannon Hey, Hannah. miles usually Hey, Shana, where can I help you? No, because you always see an extra pair of hands somewhere and that was a very natural place for me in the media tab. It was to kind of help newbies if you will find their their settings, show them where to shoot give them tips and tricks, because I know firsthand how addictive it is. So yeah, I'm like a little crackhead candy pusher getting people addicted to ultra for out on the lake then

Wyatt Pemberton:

well, I totally value the the offers extended bio for for the whole organization and including me and in that Media Group and all the all the hell man just everything. It's the you know, access to that media tent for me during the hammers this year was well, you access a guy's like you, you know, Shannon, well, time we had numerous meetings in there between us, you know, brainstorming and game planning. And, you know, I just, it was awesome. It's I think a lot of things happen in that tent that maybe people necessarily aren't aware of. But it benefits the overall experience, not just on the lake medic globally.

Alan Johnson:

There's a lot of things that happened in that tent that people don't need to know about. So you know, again, let's say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Wyatt Pemberton:

Yeah. All right, we'll go there. So okay, so we've kind of jumped ahead and jump back and we're kind of in this kind of my standard fill, right. That's kind of how I am. A little bit of Hey, look, squirrel, but in January of 2019, Dave Cole calls you. And as we know what your role is we've described role you're kind of describing your role now, what you did during qH 20. But January of 2019, Dave cold calls you, you're in California, you're in San Diego. I've set the stage, how to happen.

Alan Johnson:

Well, that's what's so funny. I mean, I'll, I'll be honest, as a personal life goal, and still one of my personal life goals, wants to continue to be more and more involved with culture for something I truly care about. I'm passionate about, to be honest, I saw myself working with Shannon, you know, what's a role I can play as we go. So now I'm in Cali on a completely unrelated related day job trip, you know, we're selling software to a group practice down there and doesn't want to go to San Diego in early January. So I jumped all over that trip. And yeah, I got a call from Dave. And he goes, you probably heard the news already, which actually is kind of funny as communication guy. There's a lot of news I'm not in. And I'm okay with that. But I did not know that that Shannon had left. And so he shared that that news with me. And he said, You know, I've talked to a couple people and you know, would you be interested, I understand you have a day job. I'm not asking you to, you know, throw all that away. But here we are, you know, a month out from hammers, you've got some experience and you work well with Emily and others. Would you like to talk about it? the bailiff, I happen to be an hour south of you right now you got beer center, left 30 at night drove up to the megillah that dealt with Dave, I've talked a lot about his vision for ultra for that was very important to me, I wanted to know, you know, where he was going, if I if I commit to something, I tend to commit to something all the way my wife always laughs with me that it's all or nothing, there is no gray area. You know, with me, I'm all in or I'm all out. And I was really excited about where it was going the things he was talking about how he wanted to grow ultra for beyond just him and really make it something sustainable for for Bailey and for future generations. And there was just an exciting vision. And Lindsay was doing a fantastic job with communication. Again, I've known Lindsay forever, she had to deal with me as a photographer. So I was on her her bad boy list. But he really wanted us to draw some of the marketing and strategy aspects of it. And that was right in line with my day job. So it was just absolutely thrilled for the opportunity. So even though technically, I'm part time, there's no such thing as part time, I have day job, and I have night job. And they're both they're both equal time. But this is certainly something I love. And then from there, you know what, when I needed to fill in with social I filled in with social when I needed to do, you know, trade shows, I did trade shows with Dave, you know, got to really work with Jeremy quite closely. And you know, was pretty heartbroken with Jeremy left because we were finding a rhythm there too. And but then the addition of Ryan Thomas to the team, just again, couldn't couldn't be more excited. But it goes back to what we talked about earlier, Dave's vision of how do I make old for about more than me? How do I systematize success and still have that feel? I mean, every conversation, I believe it or not starts with drivers. I know there is a segment of drivers that probably don't believe that. But I can tell you firsthand with clear eyes. Drivers are the center of what culture for is then sponsors and fans that kind of work and work out from there. And that's what Dave's intentionally trying to do is surround himself with people who can help us for outlive him. Because there's so much energy and passion and time and money invested in this lifestyle, that it needs to be more than a 20 story art. No, it needs to be 4050 6070 years story arc. And we really believe we're at the beginning of something still at the beginning of something that's unique and great and dynamic. And, you know, the infrastructure is in place to make sure it has legs. And that's just something I couldn't pass up, I wanted to be a part of that.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I can see why you would want to be a part of I mean, I love being a part of it as well. And I think I really enjoy you as you're telling your story. I mean, recognizing the exact parallels that you went down and myself went down. When it came to our stopping racing, we stopped racing for different reasons. But it gets to it. You still want to stay involved and say involved in the sport and around your and in your peer group and where the fun is. And me I'm in the exact same boat. You You picked up your camera and that parlayed into where you're at today with your second job. And then for me I parlayed into, well, this thing that everyone's listening to so and we're both sitting here, just trying to further the sport, spread the word, share our knowledge, share the stories, share our people, and just in general, be good stewards for the support. Sure. stewards ambassadors you know, whatever. You know, if you love it, you want to represent it well. And you know, we both want it absolutely So okay, we're finally going to close the future. What is the future hold for Alan, I know you said you'd like to be tall and skinny. I can't help you there. You You mentioned you'd like to, you know, just have more choices. By the time you turn 50 get elaborate on choices, I'd like to, I'm always curious what goes through people's minds? What does choices mean?

Alan Johnson:

These are actually related stories. When I was with a consulting firm in Phoenix, we did a group for young people called younger motivated, high school aged young college days, where we talk to them about investing, where we talk to them about life choices and things like that. And one of the questions you always ask who wants to be a pro athlete, of course, everyone's hands go up. And statistically, you know, 99%, put their hands down, we'd use that as a learning experience to say just because you're not a pro athlete doesn't mean you can't work in a field, you love their sports therapy, there's medicine, there's this. So it was a way to encourage people to, you know, you're always going to work and make money, this way to encourage people to find something they're passionate about, and then work in that field. So that they can, they can still love it. But right around that same time we got very involved in Dave Ramsey. A lot of you may know Dave Ramsey. If you subscribe to Dave's Dave Ramsey is the theory of biblical money management is your worst enemy case, it keeps you from buying all the fun toys. But if you've got an eye that the big picture, it's a wonderful way to over time, get out of debt and be responsible with your money. And so when I say, more choices, by the time I'm 50 I want to work where I work and do what I do. Because I choose to do that because I'm debt free, because I'm not living paycheck to paycheck because my kids are taken care of my house is paid for. So that's what I mean by choices is, you know, I love doing stuff because I want to do it, you know, I'll probably work till the day I die. I like working, you know, my life gets a little mad at me, but I feel like I'm contributing and I find work that I enjoy doing. That's why I move at this pace. But I want to do more stuff because I want to unless things because I have to by age 50 but you know that game plan started 15 years ago, you know, we had $30,000 worth of credit card debt live paycheck paycheck and just to make choices about lifestyle, you know, everyone laughs at for driving my you know, 2007 FJ Cruiser with 245,000 miles that seems to leave me stranded quite often. But that's card number four on the depth chart. You know, we pay cash for all of our cars, my wife's got a nice dependable Toyota Highlander, this relatively new, both my kids have, you know, dependable vehicles. So that's what I mean by more choices by 50. You know, I'd love to do all full time or something, you know, in this space, and I'm on my plan to where by the time I'm 50, I will have more choices, the kids will be out of college financially, I'll be 100% debt free, including the house. And you know, I've got a plan to stay that way. So I am trying to play the long game there. But I'm also enjoying every single quarter a long delay, because I also believe it's a mistake to wait to retire to start enjoying things you miss so much if you wait until the end to play the game. So that's what I mean by that. Probably a little ethereal, but you know, you want to talk finances so you want to into a way to give yourself more choices, I would strongly recommend just researching a little bit about Dave Ramsey. Again, not everybody's cup of tea but certainly something that helped my family and I and something we pass on to our kids so that they don't have as much debt or things to dig out from under which is literally just crippling. When you run up a bunch of debt when you're young we all do it but there are better ways than then going down that route.

Wyatt Pemberton:

So will we see an ultra for post about you know the fastest over 50 is that you know my putting you know ideas in your head?

Alan Johnson:

I don't know man I'm a year and a half away from 15 I can't see anything besides nationals right now nationals and cailleach 2021 which again, I want to be abundantly clear because if there is one question I get 10 times a day through Instagram, Facebook everything else because you know if you got a smart lucky reply on social media you got it from me because I'm handling those those accounts right now. But you know, is king of the hammers 2021 going to happen I can say emphatically with 100% confidence king of the hammers 2021 is going to happen. same week, same time, same place, Dave and Ryan and the whole crew are working with the county with BLM. Obviously there's a lot of moving parts and things that need to be done and at COVID planning and this and that. But yeah, nationals this coming weekend and a king of the hammers 2021 is my entire world. And that's how I'm gonna dodge your fastest over 50 question.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I love it. It's a it's quite all right, man support and Ryan Thomas. Health is up.

Alan Johnson:

Dude, I gotta tell you, I'm am thrilled not to be the new guy anymore. That's kind of cool. Now they all pick on Ryan instead of me. You know, it's tough to be in a room and you've been there a year and a half and you're still the new Guy. So I'm excited that Ryan's on board with his background and culture and desert racing and the Baja lifestyle. He brings a lot of skill sets to the table that we don't have from the rock racing side. But he has completely fallen in love with the rock racing and culture and older for and you know, how can we grow this? Everyone's big concern, a big concern when I joined the company, I mean, kammo, God bless him is you know, everybody's favorite. You know, dad, he calls me on the phone and literally asked, so what are your intentions with ultra for now? You know, going to get her pregnant and leave? No, you know, that's not the response you want. But everyone kind of had that with Ryan and to see him. Embrace the culture, embrace the driver centric focus, embrace the How can we continue to improve the driver experience? I mean, there's Make no mistake, tons of room for improvement. No, no one's walking around thinking we've got it dial down. There's some things we do really good. And things like the timing, we talked about that we don't, but we try to make changes when we can to make those better. And Ryan is certainly a dynamic driving force. And he's far enough outside the circle, if you will, that he can challenge JT and semi live, he can challenge me, he can challenge Dave all in love. We're all working for the same goal. And it's actually pretty cool to have a professional perspective with his background at Jackson and BFG. And, you know, Baja, and all that type of stuff. He just, he brings another flavor that once you add it to the ultra for family just just makes us stronger. Well, I think we

Wyatt Pemberton:

can agree, I think we can all agree that, you know, there's multiple ways to do the same task. And I like that he is come from still offroad but outside our genre and has a different perspective. And, and that that perspective is welcome at the table. Inside the halls have over four.

Alan Johnson:

Yeah, it was just cool. I mean, just like any, and everyone can relate to this. You know, success is, is good and bad. You have to have a plan to scale you have to have the ability to everyone under multiple hats, but also have a clear vision on where you want to go. And I think Ryan's role and then Ryan specifically as a human being as a professional talent or just another task towards, you know, growing ultra for and making it sustainable. But at the end of the day, I think our core team is still 13 people counting me and I'm a part timer. So it's a very small group of people. So if you were at the Moab events was the funniest thing I wonder reporter who asked me where our president, the guy shoveling dirt and rocks over the timing loop at the start finish line. So that's him. You know, so everybody does a bit of the, you know, do it all guy and Ryan has certainly jumped in and been no difference. But he's smart enough to come up with a plan on how do I get out of that being my job at every race? How do we stay flush for there's no one who's actually in charge of the timing loop besides Him. So it's been fun. And just like anything, we got a new guy with a with a strong vision who you know, is a leader that always brings some interesting dynamics when you've already got a strong leader and then you know, the JTS and Richard crosslands and myself so the world but man iron sharpens iron and it's actually been pretty friggin cool.

Wyatt Pemberton:

That is a good statement right there. iron sharpens iron because it is a bunch of Type A alpha. Alpha guys, man, y'all get along so well. You guys really crank out some good stuff.

Alan Johnson:

I was gonna say alpha, but I JT was included in that as well. And for sure. No, he's a big supporter. So Oh, man,

Wyatt Pemberton:

you just got knocked off the Christmas card list. Coming out of fountain Colorado. No Christmas cards from you. Post from Colorado.

Alan Johnson:

I got knocked off the even living list. I need to watch it. You know, I know this isn't gonna air for probably a week or two. But he may be outside my window right now because he has a sixth sense. Well, no, that's that's the other cool thing too. Not gonna lie. Gotta get it in getting to know JT on overslept getting know what you're getting no hold for Eurocrat and travel over there. Oh, my God. I mean, seriously, I do deal with some junk on some days and put out fires. But look at all the things I get to do. I mean, I'm not bringing to brag, but you know, I've genuinely gotten to know JT on a personal friendship level. I've gotten to go stay at Jim Morrison's house I get to go watch racing and in Wales and you know, drink blackberry vodka with the Polish team in a rental house and you know, Wales and what else is going to afford you that what else is going to give you those opportunities to meet these fascinating people and just experience life, literally all over the globe. So whether you're a racer or working for ultra for, I just really dig that type of stuff. And that'll show for you and gives you those opportunities.

Wyatt Pemberton:

You are the almost the ultimate offer for cheerleader. I do love it. That's awesome. Did we cover all the bases you want to cover? I know you said You talk a lot you did. But that's completely okay cuz you had so much good content in there. So you can edit it wherever. I'm just Again, I appreciate being here. I appreciate I've really liked the series because again, I I knew Casey Gilbert, but I didn't know Casey Gilbert. And it's just been really fascinating for me to learn about people I know and like and respect in the industry. So I do appreciate you having me on. I think you're doing a great job here, not just for, you know, the sport, but, but for you and sharing, you know, I'm a storyteller. And this isn't an ultimate storytelling platform. So I'm, I'm grateful and appreciative to, to be on the talent tank. And frankly, I did it all for the hat. So you know, I was really jealous that other people had talent to have some kind of donkey. So that's my true motivation. They are coveted, very coveted. Before we bounce off, I need to do not necessarily some housekeeping, but just a little announcement and a little Congratulations, that Eric Miller and Lee Miller that we all know so well, Eric and Lee welcomed in to the ultra for family, a new racer, and I'm proud to say his name is Wyatt, his name is Wyatt, and they've got a new baby thing he got here yesterday. And so we've rational comm So Eric is Eric and Lee with a new baby and racing. Right there. Congratulations, Miller's well done. Glad to hear Lee is healthy and amazing about this little play buddy for Nixon, Alan, man, thank you for coming on the talent tank I really appreciate really value the job you're doing really value you've taken your time to go out and impact my venture here. I really do value. Thank you.

Alan Johnson:

I thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Wyatt Pemberton:

All right, guys. This weekend, nationals man, there'll be a live feed right Alan ultra for

Alan Johnson:

racing dad racing.com slash live.

Wyatt Pemberton:

And you will hear all the miles has a fist you can get your ears full off. I can't wait to see him too. I just saw him a couple weeks ago.

Alan Johnson:

Actually, I do need to do a public service announcement here. Playing miles catchphrase bingo with beers is hazardous to your health. So you know pace yourself and do some of the miles bingo catchphrase stuffed with water because it's a long event. And we really care about your health.

Wyatt Pemberton:

I need to see this bingo board. Maybe I need to be texting that out many text miles and see if he has it. Or maybe I just need to create it if it doesn't really exist. I can get most of Mike. All right. Back to you. Jim, back to you guys. Also nitto tires hold near powered by Optima battery. As I'm doing a sponsor shout outs on here for miles, man. Well, Alan, thank you again really value come on the show. And I hope everybody enjoyed the last call it an hour and 15 minutes or so I'm 45 minutes. Well done. Well done. Well done. We'll see you guys at Nationals. All right, we're out.

Intro/Outro:

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