With Chip Ganassi Racing departing Extreme E, it is perhaps fitting that former CGR driver Jimmie Johnson will fill the void when his Legacy Motor Club enters the series for 2024.
Johnson will team up with Gray Leadbetter for much of the 2024 season, though the team’s début at this weekend’s Desert X Prix will have Travis Pastrana in the car as Johnson is focusing on the Daytona 500. Pastrana and Johnson are friends who have raced together in NASCAR and the 2022 Race of Champions.
Legacy Motor Club races in the NASCAR Cup Series with John Hunter Nemechek and Erik Jones as full-time drivers while Johnson is scheduled to enter nine races in a third car. Johnson, a seven-time Cup champion, co-owns the team with Maury Gallagher while fellow NASCAR legend Richard Petty, who formerly owned the operation, serves as ambassador.
Although much of his career is defined by his NASCAR successes, Johnson began in off-road racing. After growing up in motocross, he starred in Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group’s stadium truck series and the Short-course Off-road Drivers Association before dabbling in long-distance desert races such as SCORE International’s Baja 1000. He only occasionally returned to off-road for events like ROC, and he and Pastrana finished runner-up in the 2022 edition’s Nations Cup in the snow and ice of Sweden.
“Our goal is to learn as much as we can and see what the future might bring,” said Johnson. “The fact this series competes globally and focuses on sustainably, inclusion, and equality really piques our interest. From a technical standpoint, the changeover to hydrogen in 2025 is really intriguing and the entire motorsports community is watching closely. Personally for me as a driver, going back to my off-road roots and to the type of racing I started my career with is going to be a blast.”
While Pastrana is new to Extreme E, he is familiar with electric off-road racing courtesy of his Nitrocross series. He won the inaugural championship for what was then Nitro Rallycross in 2021 before it introduced the electric FC1-X car the following year, where he finished fourth in Group E points. With one round remaining in the 2023/24 season, he sits seventh in the standings.
In contrast to Johnson and Pastrana’s legendary résumés, Leadbetter is only nineteen years old but one of the top off-road racing prospects. She is the first woman to win in Championship Off-Road in both side-by-side and professional categories, claiming the Pro SPEC title in 2022 and finishing third in the 2023 battle. Leadbetter has already crossed paths with Pastrana in Nitrocross’ SxS division, where she is third in points.
“Welcoming Jimmie Johnson and Legacy Motor Club into our championship for Season 4 is a huge coup,” stated Extreme E managing director Ali Russell. “We are thrilled that the Legacy Motor Club has joined Extreme E and we wish them the very best for the campaign ahead.
“Jimmie knows what it takes to win and he has done it all throughout his career, so we look forward to seeing him and his team mix it with the very best in Extreme E. Travis Pastrana and Gray Leadbetter make an exciting combination for the first event in Saudi Arabia before Jimmie gets behind the wheel as they fly the flag for the United States.”
All three drivers are American which continues the trend set by CGR, for whom Johnson raced in the IndyCar Series in 2021 and 2022. Extreme E will end the 2024 season in the United States for the first time in late November at Firebird Motorsports Park, which currently hosts Nitrocross.