Open Mic: Mike Johnson

Crew chief for Stevenson Motorsports

Words by Mike Johnson
Photos by Rod Short

Stevenson Motorsports was founded by John and Susan Stevenson to promote their Extensive Dealership Network based in Jacksonville, Wilmington, Goldsboro and Swansboro, N.C. John Stevenson began drag racing but his love for sports cars led him to GRAND-AM first as a driver and then as a team owner. In John's first race at Watkins Glen he finished second and has been a staple in the paddock ever since. He retired from the cockpit in 2005 to concentrate on running the team and his expanding business.

For years, the team ran Corvettes with limited success, but when finally they purchased a Pratt & Miller-built Pontiac GXP.R, the podiums quickly followed. In 2008 and 2009, Stevenson Motorsports scored a class leading six wins and 14 podiums but fell just short of the championship both years. The 2010 season will bring on a new challenge for the team as they will enter two Chevrolet Camaro GT.R's in the Rolex Series and two Chevrolet Camaro GS.R's in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Here, crew chief Mike Johnson tells how he got involved in sports car racing and the Stevenson team.

I started working for my father’s race team when I was about 14 years old. When I turned 16, I went to Skip Barber and raced in the USF National Championship for a few years with guys like Buddy Rice and a few other Indy 500 winners. In 2000, I started my own team called Arch Angel Motorsports and we ran in the new Grand Am Rolex series. In 2001, we won the 24 Hours of Daytona and a second championship. In 2002-03 we continued and once the Daytona Prototypes were introduced, we moved our cars over to the AMS and won another championship with TPC Racing in 2004 and won a class victory at Daytona. Worked for Speed Channel. Did a partial season with John Stevenson’s Corvette in 2007. In 2008, we purchased a Pontiac GXP-R, and won three races and had nine podiums. Last year, we won three races and had 5-6 podiums.

Ford had hired Multi Matic, who builds a lot of the OE stuff on their cars, to build, test and race a Mustang for the Grand Am Cup. After they had done all of the development on the car, the parts found their way into the Ford Performance Parts catalog. Anybody could buy the parts and it was a huge success. They sold some cars. They started the Mustang Challenge. The whole thing took off. When General Motors introduced the Camaro, they thought it was a great idea and decided to do the same thing.