A driver in northern Minnesota reached speeds that even NASCAR stars Kurt and Kyle Busch would be proud of, but police were not amused.
Over the weekend, Deputy Chief Shawn Padden of the Hermantown Police Department stopped a sports car that was clocked by radar at 171 miles per hour and later 148 mph on an expressway north of Duluth.
Padden was working a “Toward Zero Death” DWI enforcement Friday night on the four-lane stretch of Hwy. 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors. He was in the southbound lanes about 5 miles north of Duluth when radar started screeching. By the time he looked up, he saw the speeding 2016 Camaro Coupe fly by.
Padden revved up his Dodge Charger, floored it to 130 to 140 miles per hour and gave chase. He caught up to the lead-foot driver a short distance away, although he said it was unnerving for him to drive as fast as he did.
“I was thinking that at least this better be somebody famous so I could get an autograph,” Padden said.
No such luck.
The driver was Joshua M. Johnson, 36, of Duluth. He was cited for careless driving.
Padden said Johnson, who had a female passenger, didn’t really give a reason for racing along the highway, which is dangerous enough with drivers going the 65 mph limit.
The road often is littered with animal and car parts. In fact, a couple of deer crossed the highway just after the traffic stop was made, Padden said.
“I don’t know if he just got it off the showroom floor and wanted to see what it could do,” Padden said. “He’s fortunate nothing came across the road. There would have been a double fatality.”
Padden said it’s common to see drivers going 70 to 80 mph, but this was by far the speediest vehicle he has seen during his 28 years as an officer.
If Johnson is found guilty, he could face 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, and he could lose his driver’s license, according to state law.
“I hope he learned his lesson,” Padden said. “I told him the next time I see him he better be on TV in a NASCAR race.”