Zach Johnson: Successful on the Race Track and YouTube Star as Millennial Farmer
For many years, Zach Johnson was a well known and accomplished stock-car racer in western Minnesota, driving the #73 modified and late model. But to hundreds of thousands of people across the nation, he’s known as the “Millennial Farmer.”
Johnson, who farms soybeans and corn in the Lowry, Minn., area with his father Nate, is the person behind the Millennial Farmer YouTube channel. That channel has an incredible 575,000 subscribers (and counting), and several videos are in the millions in terms of page views.
“Now the kids come down because they want to meet the Millennial Farmer,” Johnson said. “They used to come down because they wanted to see the race car driver.”
Turns out the race car driver has a good fan following, too. Johnson drives the #6X Wissota Modified owned by Corey Svor of Alexandria. He’s raced mainly at his home track of Viking Speedway in Alexandria and at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls this season. On Saturday, Johnson will race in the Fallen Lineman Race at Viking, which will pay $3,000 to win and $300 to start the modified feature.
Svor has been a catalyst behind the Fallen Lineman race at Viking, which raises money for the Fallen Lineman Organization that helps families of electrical line workers who have lost their lives on the job. Svor’s Ryan, was killed on the job working on power lines in 2013. More than $10,000 has been raised for the Fallen Lineman Organization because of the Viking event.
Johnson, 36, was an accomplished late model driver for many years in the region. He was a three-time Wissota Late Model National Champion and won the 2013 Wissota Late Model Challenge Series Points title. He also has 11 career NLRA Late Model wins. He’s won five track championships in his career, racing in the Wissota Midwest Modified, Modified and Late Model classes.
“We started in the B Mod, fell in love with the mod deal and just stuck with what Wissota has,” Johnson said.
He’s successful on the race track and his Millennial Farmer brand is thriving off the track, too. He started the Millennial Farmer YouTube channel in 2016. The goal was simple: to promote agriculture by posting normal, day-to-day happenings on the farm. The goal is to educate consumers about agricultural issues.
“I started it 100 percent to relate to people about what goes on the farm,” Johnson said. “I have family members and people that graduated that should understand farming to some extent. I was seeing them talk a lot online about what they believed agriculture to be about, and they didn’t have the whole truth.”
The YouTube videos include daily happenings on the farm. One video, of a tractor stuck in the mud, has received more than 2.8 million views alone. Topics include harvesting, talking about farm equipment, GMOs, etc.
Within the past two years, its popularity has exploded: there are more than 575,000 YouTube subscribers now. It’s kept Johnson and his wife, Becky, plenty busy. Becky runs the business side of the Millennial Farmer Brand.
“That took off on me about two years ago, and it’s just snowballed,” Johnson said. “One thing led to another, everything grew and next thing I know, now it’s a full-time job for me and my wife.”
He’s in his 21st year of racing and has settled into Svor’s 6X machine for the past few years. He stepped away from late model racing after the 2017 season. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss the late model.
“Especially the big shows,” Johnson said. “When it comes to the big shows, what I really loved about that was traveling around to different tracks and running with those guys on the road. That’s is what I really loved doing.”
He’s won his share of big races. That includes three challenge series feature wins and two Fall Classic wins at Viking. Perhaps his biggest win was the 4444 special at Viking Speedway in 2013 that paid $4,444 to win the late models which
He had modest goals for the 2020 racing season.
“Hopefully have fun and win a few races here and there,” Johnson said. “We’re not looking at points at all. At this point right now, We’re just having fun, and hopefully pick off a few (wins) and run respectably. If you could win them all it’d be great, but I’ve never seen anybody do it yet.”
He credits his dad, Nate, and long time pit crew for their role in the racing success.
“The guys have been with me forever. They want to win too, and we have fun it doing,” Johnson said. “That’s a lot of it, we all love doing it. Win or lose, we have fun.”
Wissota Modified #6X
Residence: Lowry, Minn.
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