Bobby Johns was born in Miami, Florida. His father, Socrates, but known as Shorty, raced midgets
and later roadsters. In the early 1950s he raced in NASCAR's National Sportsman division and also ran on 'outlaw' tracks using assumed names. He actually made better money than he could with NASCAR. In 1953 he was called up to serve in the Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He continued to race during his two years and credits the army with teaching many valuable lessons.
Bobby Johns raced in the NASCAR series in the 1956-1969 seasons, with 141 career starts. He had 2 wins among his 36 top ten finishes. He took Cotton Owens’ Pontiac to a convincing win in the Atlanta 500 at AIR in Hampton and two years later he drove the family Pontiac to his second win at Bristol in the Volunteer 500. He just missed winning the 1960 Daytona 500. With two laps to go a freak gust of wind shattered the rear window of Johns' 1960 Pontiac, sending the car spinning backwards down the backstretch. By the time Johns regained control Junior Johnson had passed him and he had to settle for second. He finished the season 3rd in the points.
In 1964 Bobby Johns became the first NASCAR driver to turn a competitive lap at Indianapolis. In the early days of NASCAR and USAC, they would not allow their drivers to race under other's sanctions.
In all Johns attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 7 times. Through his friendship with Smokey Yunick, Johns was invited to try to qualify Yunick’s unorthodox sidecar at the speedway in 1964. He failed but was back in 1965 as teammate to Jim Clark in a Lotus. He qualified 22nd and finished a respecatable seventh. He returned in 1969 and, starting on the back row, came home in 10th spot.