American Spirit Team Johansson is an internationally recognized race team which formed in 2003 for the Champ Car World Series. The series was presented by Bridgestone, and offered a platform for leader, Stefan Johansson, to show his stuff as a manager rather than a racer. Johansson was fresh out of the 2001 LMP900 class Le Mans racing series, following a successful career in F1 and CART racing.
The team was comprised of Ryan Hunter-Reay, a rookie racer, and Jimmy Vasser, a veteran with his own recognizable talents. Together, the three of them held plenty of promise for the future of CART racing, and took home a win at the season finale in Australia. Following the last race of the year, the team concluded its professional relationship, with Johansson stepping down as owner that November.
Racing Through History
Over the years many of the faces in the cockpits of race cars have changed, and the tracks have begun to expand and evolve, but the spirit of racing has stayed the same. From Formula 1 to the Daytona 500, motor racing brings hundreds of thousands of fans from all over the world to watch their favorite drivers cross the finish line.
The first recorded auto race took place in 1894 in France over a 1,178 km stretch. Drivers rode from Paris to Rouen on speeds of 14 miles per hour, and paid 10 Francs to do so. The United States soon followed suit with a Thanksgiving Day race in 1895, which took place in Illinois, running from Chicago to Evanston.
In 1907, the first track was designed and built for motor racing in Surrey, England. It opened in June, and offered 2.75 miles of concrete track to drive. In 1909 the United States founded the first major racing facility in America, and called it the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The speedway is home to the Indianapolis 500, and is still in use today.
Tracks have evolved from the challenging old timers like Spa and Suzuka, which are reportedly known to be some of Johansson’s favorites. The clean lines and simplistic style of modern race tracks make them less formidable as far as safety standards go, and allow drivers to focus more on speed and less on what the track might throw at them next. A good example of this change can be seen in the Dubai Autodrome, an International Automobile Federation sanctioned circuit which spans over 5 km in the UAE.
Whether you believe that racing is all about the track, make of the car, performance tyres, or how much horsepower is under the hood, there’s one thing that all race enthusiasts can agree upon, the driver makes the race. You don’t hear fans chanting the name of the latest Ferrari on the circuit, instead, they call out for the man or woman behind the wheel.
Drivers train for years to perfect instincts and hone their skills on the track. One comment Johansson made during a Sport360 interview this year, was that if you’re out of the game for a while, it takes time to get used to being behind the wheel again. Johansson recently rejoined the racing world at the Yas Marina Formula 1 race track in the UAE. At the age of 60, he races, manages other drivers, and works with Ferrari on several side projects.
American Spirit Team Johansson Philosophy
For most, racing is about seeing who is fastest and who reaches the end point first. For Stefan Johansson and his team, their stance has always seemed to favor purity of the sport, and passion over politics. While Johansson has been quoted saying he wished he could have done better during his time on the Formula 1 circuit, he enjoyed every race he ever drove, and that’s what truly matters. A driver isn’t a racer without heart.
At www.americanspiritteamjohannson.com, we bring you the latest tips and news from race professionals around the world. Learn more about where each of the ASTJ racers are now, and how the series of the past have defined the future of modern racing. Check our blog for regular updates and information on upcoming events, new race gear, and automotive industry secrets.