Stevenson Poised to End IMSA Program; Team Shutdown

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

Stevenson Motorsports is unlikely to return to IMSA competition next year, with the longtime GT racing squad set to potentially pull the plug on the final two races of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge seasons.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that team owner John Stevenson gave notice to the crew and drivers this week, indicating that the North Carolina-based operation will be closing its doors at the end of the year.

It’s unclear the status of the team’s programs for the remainder of the season, or the reason for the sudden closure of its long-running, championship-winning operation.

Stevenson currently runs an Audi R8 LMS in the WeatherTech Championship for Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis, with Robin Liddell and Matt Bell at the wheel of its GM-backed Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in Continental Tire Challenge, which is coming off back-to-back wins at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park.

Aschenbach and Davis currently sit fourth in the GTD championship standings, with Liddell and Bell 9th in the GS title race after missing the first two races.

Calls to team manager Mike Johnson were not returned, with Stevenson unavailable for comment.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

40 Comments

  1. Kyle

    August 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Wow… That’s pretty shocking and unfortunate. I’d really like to know the reason.

  2. jason

    August 31, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    We are going to need a full time Audi team folks. They were the last one.

    • Jimbo

      August 31, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Why don’t Audi bring back Flying Lizard!!!!

      • Louis

        August 31, 2017 at 6:06 pm

        Because Flying Lizard is running the factory backed k-pax mclarens in PWC…. they should give Dyson Racing a call but that’ll never happen

        • jaysfan

          September 1, 2017 at 5:06 am

          Flying Lizard and K Pax are running separate programs, seth Neiman is running Porsche Caymans in GTS class

          • Cactus Tony

            September 1, 2017 at 9:19 am

            Seth Neiman sold his interest in the team to Law/Blam/Sadler a few years ago. He’s not in the picture.

            FLM is running all sorts of customer programs, including the KPax McLarens, the WC GTS cars and all sorts of club level stuff. There’s nothing stopping them from running Audi or anyone else in GTD aside from the lack of someone paying them to do so.

  3. Dan

    August 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Oh boy, this isnt good. Given the timing I cant help but worry as to the reason(s) for this. I hope this is a simple business decision and nothing more sinister.

    • tracer

      September 1, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Why would the timing indicate something more sinister? If the team owners care about their crew finding new gigs elsewhere, this is the time of year they should be giving everyone the heads up.

  4. Mike S.

    August 31, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Wow bummer. Not even downsize to just CTSC. A full shutdown. Not good. Have at least a win in each and 4th in points in stacked GTD class is pretty good. Solid drivers that don’t make stupid mistakes too much. Bummed.

  5. Max

    August 31, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Did they expand too quickly?

  6. Michael Sorensen

    August 31, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    money money money

    • DEJ

      August 31, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      BOP,BOP $$$$$$$$$

      • Camyron

        August 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm

        If BOP were a valid reason, then the morons on the Weathertech team shouldn’t be finishing behind a Mercedes, the very car they claimed had been unfairly BOPed.

        • DEJ

          August 31, 2017 at 6:12 pm

          Maybe ??? because of the recent moon phases !!!

      • Sol Shine

        September 1, 2017 at 10:34 am

        DING DING DING DING DING!!!!! Winner.

        Who in hell would want to dump millions into a series where BOP just happens for no apparent reason?

      • tracer

        September 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        This has absolutely nothing to do with BOP.

        • Andy Flinn

          September 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm

          I agree. I don’t think Stevenson is closing their doors because of BoP.

  7. Andy Flinn

    August 31, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I don’t think expanding too quickly is the issue,

    Stevenson has been racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Grand-Am and IMSA since at least 2004. First they raced a Porsche GT3 R, then Riggins and Crawford Grand-Am Corvettes, as well as a Pratt and Miller GXP.R and Camaros. At one point a few years ago, Stevenson also raced two IMSA Audis.

    Didn’t Mike Johnson just celebrate his 400th race with the team?

    I do wonder if this shutdown has anything to do with Stevenson not being able to run a GM car in the IMSA WeatherTech series.

    I know at one point they were looking to put a deal together.

    • Jake

      August 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Why would they pull two programs because they cant run a GM car in GTD? They have run an Audi since the beginning of last year, and still got the nod to run the GT4 Camaro.

  8. Kmart

    August 31, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Sad just sad!!

  9. EmmTubby

    August 31, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    oooooh, maybe it’s cocaine trafficking like the old IMSA days. We can speculate, right?

    • JohnPaulSenior

      September 1, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Hey, that’s not funny!

    • Andy Flinn

      September 1, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Sorry EmmTubby, I’d just be interested to know why a team that has been racing consistently for almost the past 15 years is suddenly getting out of racing.

      I don’t think I’m alone.

  10. DEJ

    August 31, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Maybe ??? because of the recent moon phases !!!

  11. David Chaste

    August 31, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    He owns dealerships and the program is just to give more exposure to his dealership business. Same for Paul miller, Park place and Bean keating. Atbsome point they just decide the expense is justifying the extra endeavor. Overheard cuts, downsizing, many reasons.

    Not really shocking. Since its not their main business. If wayne taylor or shank, was shutting down it would be major concern for the series even, because racing is their main business.

    • Dagys eats balls

      September 1, 2017 at 9:43 am

      When a team tells everyone they’re shutting down immediately, it’s “shocking.”

    • Rocket J Squirrel

      September 1, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Paul Miller, Ben Keating and Park Place have their dealerships in major metro areas. Stevenson is located in the armpit of the East Coast among a bunch of depressed military installations. Something tells me he wasn’t running Audis to sell a handful more Camaros to drunk Marines on leave.

  12. David Chaste

    August 31, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    expense isn’t** justifying the extra endeavor

  13. JeffB

    August 31, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Well this is a disappointment among all the positive news surrounding the series lately. But, that is the nature of motorsports. Teams come and teams go. Heck, series come and go, even once mighty ones like CART. Still, you never like to see it happen and hope the lives of those affected aren’t disrupted too much and they all find new teams for next season.

    • Jeff Wagner

      September 1, 2017 at 1:50 am

      JeffB: You mentioned CART, I was so much more upset when the I.R.L folded. Those I.R.L. 500’s were sensational!!!

  14. Eric

    August 31, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Gutted.

    One of my favorite teams, with the best patriotic livery ever, in my opinion.

  15. mb

    August 31, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Sports cars and passenger sales are down, trucks are up, seems to be the forseeable future. This changes the justifyable marketing spends for dealership groups.

    If I had to guess this the sign of a lost war with accountants.

  16. Slicks in the wet

    August 31, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Damn. Just…damn.

  17. Change it up

    September 1, 2017 at 8:33 am

    We need a couple Audi’s in this race series. Audi needs to split up their R8 LMS Cup and push those cars into other series around the world. They will have no presence in WEC and IMSA now.

    Magnus racing, come back!!!

  18. Jason Evans

    September 1, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I seen Bell & Liddell at the Oak Tree Tavern Saturday night after the race and I asked them how are things going. “not good” was the word. I guess now I know why..

  19. Jeremy

    September 1, 2017 at 10:33 am

    The last full season Audi entrant, gone. Its a shame, Stevenson had an impressive group come together over the years and was always a pleasure to see them and speak with them in the paddock. ALways competitive and always fair.Just a speculation but it could be possible the Stevenson group may be taken over by a larger, less racing interested national dealer group. Hopefully AJR can put together a program for next year. To think back to a few years ago when you would see half a dozen or more R8 gt3s on track, it was the package to have. Hope to see them back soon

  20. David Chaste

    September 1, 2017 at 11:04 am

    If Audi wants a team in GTD they know how to make it happen. Loan a chassis for the year, offer a factory driver, tech support, etc, or just plain cash.

  21. charlies comments

    September 1, 2017 at 11:57 am

    everyone is talking about some other team picking up the ball and running the audi
    I wonder how many of you have any idea of the cost to run an audi
    and at camero program

    or the lack of any tangible business return on the cost
    someone said this was to promote jOhn’s dealerships
    how many cars do you think must be sold to make say $1.5M in profit

  22. Mike K

    September 2, 2017 at 10:14 am

    It doesn’t surprise me. It’s a program that is funded by Stevenson and the dealer name is there to satisfy the IRS, thus a tax writeoff. Just like what Brumos did. In the future we might hear that the Stevenson line of dealerships get sold and this is the first step to make it look more attractive. Then Johnny goes off into the sunset and retires. People do get old and there’s nothing we can do to change that.

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