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(Photo: Phil Allaway)

Johnny Stevenson Dead at 69

On Monday, Johnny Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Motorsports and patriarch of North Carolina’s Stevenson Automotive Group, died suddenly at his Toyota dealership in Jacksonville, N.C.  Stevenson was 69 years old.

In addition to running a group of car dealerships, Stevenson owned Stevenson Motorsports, a successful race team that fielded entries in multiple series.  Most recently, these series included the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.  The team first competed in the Rolex Sports Car Series’ GT class back in 2004 with a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.  A year later, the team switched to a Chevrolet Corvette.

The early years were a struggle for the team as they adjusted to racing full-time in the Rolex Sports Car Series.  Stevenson himself drove in the early years, earning a best career finish of fourth at Lime Rock Park in 2006.

The team turned the corner in 2008 with the hiring of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis to drive the team’s new Pontiac GXP.R full-time (Note: This was a racing version of the Pontiac G6 coupe).  Liddell and Davis took three class victories (Mexico City, VIR and Montreal) and finished third in points.  Success continued for the rest of the existence of the Rolex Sports Car Series.  By the time of the merger between Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series, the team had taken 17 class victories.

The team returned to full-fledged endurance racing after two years away in 2016 with two full-time Audi R8 LMS GT3s in the GT Daytona class.  The team’s only class victory since returning was at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in July when Lawson Aschenbach and Davis took the honors.  The team did accumulate three additional second-place finishes over the past two seasons.

In addition to the team’s successful top-flite program, a parallel program was very successful in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.  The team won a number of races in the series, including two this season in a part-time schedule with the new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.  The team won the 2015 Grand Sport championship with Davis and Liddell driving a Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R.

Upon hearing news of Stevenson’s death, IMSA President Scott Atherton issued a statement.

“Everyone in the IMSA family is shocked and saddened to hear the news of Johnny’s passing,” Atherton wrote.  “Johnny led a fantastic race team for many years, and he will be missed in the IMSA paddock. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go out to his wife, Susan, and the rest of the Stevenson family.”

Stevenson Motorsports had previously announced that they were going to shut down at the end of the 2017 IMSA season.  No reason had been given at the time for the shutdown.

We at Frontstretch send our condolences to the Stevenson family for their loss.

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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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