Billy Johnson, who competed in a Ford GT at Le Mans for Chip Ganassi Racing and was a development driver for both Ford Motor Company and Multimatic, has joined the testing team at Shelby American. Key in the production of the latest generation Shelby GT350, Shelby GT500 and Ford GT, Johnson will support Shelby American’s efforts to further refine Shelby suspensions, chassis, engine tunes and performance parts, the company said.
“We’re deeply committed to pushing through barriers to enhance the capabilities of our cars, trucks and parts,” said Gary Patterson. “Those who compete at the highest levels of motorsports have a unique set of skills that can elevate a testing program. Billy’s vast experience in both motorsports and vehicle development can help us achieve even higher levels of performance at Shelby American.”
Johnson has raced in the FIA WEC, British GT, NASCAR Cup, NASCAR Xfinity, IMSA, IMSA Michelin Pilot Sportscar Challenge (MPSC), Blancpain GT World Challenge America, Formula Star Mazda Pro, Formula BMW, Skip Barber Regional and National Series. In addition to competing worldwide in a Ford GT, he was involved in the refinement and development of the highest-performing cars at Ford over the past few years.
“Billy Johnson will play an important role in developing future Shelby vehicles, just as he did at Ford Motor Company and Multimatic,” said Vince LaViolette “After all, Billy is a proven winner who was part of the Ford Ganassi race team that beat Ferrari at Le Mans, 50 years after we did it in 1966.”
Johnson raced for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for four consecutive years (2016-2019) piloting the #66 Ford GT. He is 2016 IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS champion and won the 2018 endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps in a Ford GT. In the past decade, Billy has more victories and top-3 podium finishes than any driver in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series with 23 wins, 49 podiums and 61 top-five finishes.
“Some of the greatest names in motorsports history, including Ken Miles, Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant and Bruce McLaren, developed iconic Shelby’s during the 1960s,” said Billy Johnson. “Five decades later, Gary Patterson and Vince LaViolette are the Shelby American test drivers creating the current generation of amazing vehicles. Anyone would be honored to be part of such a legendary organization. As the majority of my career has been spent behind the wheel of Ford performance vehicles, I hope to be an asset to the team.”
Johnson and the team have already begun testing new high-performance suspension and chassis solutions, brake components and engine tunes, the company said. They are also evaluating Johnson-derived aftermarket components for their Shelby Performance Parts division.