Johnson to lead Legacy MC in Extreme E

NASCAR Cup series team Legacy Motor Club will expand into Extreme E this season, with Jimmie Johnson and Gray Leadbetter driving in the all-electric international off-road series.

It marks something of a return to his roots for Johnson, who raced off-road trucks before his stock car career. He was a rookie of the year in Mickey Thompson’s series, the Short-course Off-road Drivers Association series, and SCORE International in the 1990s, and won more than 20 races across all three series, racking up 100 podiums, too.

“The opportunity for Legacy Motor Club to field an off-road vehicle in the Extreme E championship is exciting in many ways,” said seven-time Cup series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Johnson. “We are essentially representing America in this unique and very competitive series and we are committed to the challenge.


“Our goal is to learn as much as we can and see what the future might bring. The fact this series competes globally, focuses on sustainably, inclusion, and gender equality really perks 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.”

Travis Pastrana (left) will fill in for Johnson for the opening two rounds in Saudi Arabia. Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

The 2024 season begins this weekend in Saudi Arabia, the same weekend as the Daytona 500, meaning Johnson will be absent as he makes his 21st start in the Cup series opener. His place in the No. 84 Odyssey 21 will be taken by six-time U.S. rally champion and 2021 Nitrocross champion Travis Pastrana.

“This all came together pretty quick, but I’m really excited,” said Pastrana. “I have quite a bit of experience in electric vehicles, although I’ve never been in an Extreme E Odyssey 21 before. I compete in a lot of off-road events and some desert stuff – mostly on two wheels – but this should be really fun for us.

“I believe in Jimmie Johnson and in Legacy Motor Club and all he is doing with the Club, so when he asked me it was a no-brainer.”

Both drivers will be partnered by Leadbetter, who will be making her Extreme E debut, having previously spent time in the paddock as an observer with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2022. Leadbetter races in the Nitrocross Side-by-Side championship, where she currently sits third in the standings, one spot ahead of Pastrana (who competes part-time), with eight top-four finishes from eight starts, including podium finishes in Phoenix and Southern California.

Off-road prodigy Leadbetter has been a frontrunner in Nitrocross’ Side-by-Side category. Qnigan/Nitrocross

“I’m super excited and thankful for this opportunity,” said Leadbetter who, at 19 years old, will be the second-youngest driver to compete in Extreme E after fellow Nitrocross racer Lia Block, who made her debut last year aged 16. “I’ve always been interested in Extreme E, but just never found the right opportunity to step foot in it.

“When Travis texted me last week that there might be a chance to race with Jimmie Johnson and Legacy Motor Club, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I’ve never driven these cars so it’s sure to be an adventure, but I will be in great company. This is a dream come true.”

Patrana added: “I’ve worked with Gray before and she is a huge talent, so overall it is just a great opportunity for both of us to compete in this championship series together. She’s the top female young up-and-coming talent in Nitrocross and has the speed, so hopefully as Americans, we will do our country proud and return home with a win and some smiles on our faces.”

Story originally appeared on Racer