American Spirit Team Johansson
The team formed in 2003 as an entry into the Bridgestone presents Champ Car World Series. It consisted of owner, Stefan Johansson, a racing rookie named Ryan Hunter-Reay, and track veteran, Jimmy Vasser. Together they would bring home a win driving wet conditions at the series finale track in Australia.
Stefan Nils Edwin Johansson was born in Vaxjo, Sweden in September 1956. He was most active in his racing career from 1983 to 1991, but he did race as early as 1976, and as late as 2017.
Johansson has accumulated 79 starts throughout his Formula One career, working with well known names like McLaren and even Ferrari. In 2014 he shocked the racing world, when at the age of 57 he returned to his racing roots for the World Endurance Championship, where he planned to race full-time once more. During the same year he took on the position of Sporting Director for Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.
Not Your Average Racer
A pillar in the world of racing, Johansson has kept himself relevant by making appearances as a team lead, manager, and sports director for races around the world. This year, Johansson raced the Gulf 12 Hours in a Ligier JS P3 as part of the United Autosports series. He was joined by teammates Matt Keegan, Nico Rondet, an Jim McGuire.
Not just a racer, Johansson uses his experience and talent to manage other racers, such as Scott Dixon of New Zealand, and Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden. Dixon took home the title in the Indianapolis 500 in 2008, while Rosenqvist won 2015 European Formula 3 Championship. The success of his teams represents the true racing spirit of Stefan, who has stayed deeply involved with the racing community for more than 3 decades now.
Johansson has said that the dream of most racers is to become a world champion, something that wasn’t in the cards for him. In an interview with Sport360 this year, he claimed that the reason he never rose to the title was basically down to timing. Humbled by the experiences he’s had and the life he’s lived throughout his racing career, he continues to focus his energy into the sport.
Leading up to American Spirit Team Johansson
In 1968, Stefan became interested in Go-Kart racing, this blossomed into a career in 1976 when he began racing professionally in the formula 3 series. 1980 was a big year for Johansson, willing him the title of Formula 3in Britain. 1981 saw wins at Hockenheim and Mantorp Park in the Formula 2 race of that year; he took home 3rd. In 1983 he made six starts in Formula 1, 1984 gave him six more, three with Toleman and three with Tyrrell. 1985 was a new era, as Stefan joined the Ferrari team and scored two second place victories.
As the years progressed, Johansson stepped into the World Championship Series, finishing fifth with Ferrari with four podium finishes in 1986. The next year he switched to team McLaren, scoring five podium finishes, and sixth place in the World Championship. A short break from the World Championship in 1988 took him to win the Spa 1,000 km Group C race for Porsche, after which he came back to the WC to come in 11th for Onyx in 1989.
Johansson took a short break in 1990, after which he came back to F1 and had one start with Footwork team. 1992 -1995 he kept busy with Penske/Chevy for Bettenhhausen Motorsports in CART racing, where he scored two podiums in Detroit, a podium 3rd in Vancouver, and a podium 3rd at the 1995 Nazareth race. Bettenhausen saw a fourth place win at Elkhart Lake in 1996 with Reynard/Mercedes-Benz. 1997 was a good year for Johansson, he won with 12 Hours of Sebring, driving for Ferrari, as well as 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving for Porsche. This last win took him to the Joest Porsche team, where he began endurance sports racing in 1998. 1999 saw more endurance racing with Audi, and in 2000 he formed the Johansson/Matthews team.
The European Le Mans Series Championship of 2001 in endurance sports car racing saw Johansson bring home the win in an Audi R8. Finally, in 2003 he founded American Spirit Team Johansson.
Stefan, his wife Gabriella, and their two children, currently reside in Indianapolis in the United States.