El Cajon honors NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson

EL CAJON, Calif. - The mayor and City Council proclaimed it "Jimmie Johnson Day" Tuesday in El Cajon, where the race car driver grew up, to honor his accomplishments and philanthropy.

"This blew me away," Johnson said. "I had no clue it was going to be like this today."

Johnson, who now lives in North Carolina, told those in the council chamber that he returned to El Cajon "with great pride."

"When I think of home and growing up, I smile and it's from deep down inside me because of everything I had here at my fingertips," he told 10News. "My mom and dad, their love and support and doing everything for me and my brothers, letting us pursue our passion."

Johnson was handed a guitar that displays his car number, 48, and was informed that Second Street -- a main commercial drag on the east side of town -- will be temporarily renamed Jimmie Johnson Drive.

"It's not every day you get a street named after you, a guitar to the city and the day proclaimed as Jimmie Johnson day," Johnson tweeted after the celebration. "What an event and thank you to all of the fans, the city of El Cajon and the State of California."

Johnson told 10News, "Those mementos will be great to hang on the wall and remind me of what went on today … the goose bumps I had, the feeling in my stomach dropping when I saw everyone will help me remember today and today is a very special day."

Longtime fan Paulette Sauln was among those on hand to honor Johnson, whose foundation has provided $6.5 million to schools in El Cajon and across the country.

"He doesn't forget where he came from," Sauln told a local television station. "He comes back and he gives to the community."

On the track, Johnson won his 69th race last Sunday. Last year, he won NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series championship for the sixth time.

"What a privilege it is to be witness to what Jimmie Johnson has achieved both on and off the track," El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said. "We in El Cajon can boast to the world that perhaps the greatest dynasty in sports
history is linked to our home and his. I feel certain that the significance of this day will only grow as championship number seven is not far off."

The celebration in downtown El Cajon included a display of one of Johnson's old race cars, and "Hero Cards" were handed out to fans in attendance in lieu of autographs.

The musical gift was provided to Johnson by El Cajon-based Taylor Guitars.

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