Driver Spotlight: Billy Johnson
Driver, No. 15 Multimatic Racing Ford GT350R-C
Multimatic made the switch from the Boss 302R to the GT350R-C. What are some of the differences between the two?
“I would have to say that everything is different between the Boss 302R and the GT350R-C. The major difference is the independent rear suspension found on all “S550” (2015) Mustangs.
“The Boss 302 is arguably the best handling solid-axle car ever built and the showroom-stock 302R was almost identical in nature and drove a lot like a NASCAR Xfinity car (which is probably why I adapted to them so easily) which requires more of a ‘point-and-shoot’ driving style. The GT350R-C drives more like a racecar and carries higher speed mid-corner with a greatly improved balance thanks to the new front and rear suspension.
“Another major difference is the engine. The Boss’ 444hp 5.0L V8 was already a fantastic but the GT350R-C takes it to another level with the 5.2L Flat-Plane-Crank V8 that has a stratospheric redline and more grunt across the entire usable rev range. Unfortunately the engine is restricted by the sanctioning body to maintain a “Balance of Performance” and our racecar makes quite a bit less power than the production engine.
“Lastly the aerodynamic downforce is much better on the GT350R-C with a production carbon fiber rear wing and giant front splitter which makes the car a lot more stable, confidence-inspiring, and faster. A lot of the functional under aerodynamic body panels on the production car were removed on our racecar due to the BoP.”
Your team has had some tough luck the last few weeks. Tell us a little about the journey you’ve been on since Mosport.
“I can’t say enough about everyone at Multimatic and Ford Performance for all of their hard work, dedication to the sport and racing as a whole, and their never give up work ethic when times are tough. I’m honored to be a part of this amazing group. Unfortunately we lost a GT350R-C at Mosport after being taken out by a back marker, but within a week, these guys built Scott Maxwell and I a brand new GT350R-C from the ground-up to be able to compete at Lime Rock where we took the checkered flag for a 1-2 GT350R-C finish with our teammates, Jade Buford and Austin Cindric.
“We had another heartache during Friday practice at VIR where our No. 15 found a wall in practice and could not be repaired in time for the race. Multimatic and Ford Performance have pulled off a miracle for Lime Rock but I was mentally preparing myself for watching the race the next day from the sidelines. But these guys never quit, and loaded up our retired Boss 302R from the shop in Canada to start a 14-Hour journey to Virginia to start a race that was to start only 20 hours later.
“Sure enough the car arrived at 7 a.m. and immediately was swarmed with mechanics to go though it, change the setup and install all the parts that were taken off of it after its second-place finish at Laguna Seca earlier this year. Scott took the green with the car never turning a lap since Laguna Seca, with a best-guess setup and we were able to finish sixth by the end of the race. These guys are just unbelievable.”
The 2016 schedule has been announced. Are there any tracks missing that you would like to see on the schedule?
“IMSA has done a great job with the venues this year which appears to be the same as 2016. I think for our 10-race schedule it’s hard to beat what they came up with, but if they were to go back to a 12-race schedule I would like to see Indy back on the schedule because who does not like winning at Indianapolis? I just missed a chance there and would like redemption. Trois-Rivieres was an amazing venue with tons of fans that flocked to the race and being a street-circuit, it always made for entertaining races. I would like to go back there again as well.”
Are you looking forward to COTA?
“I love COTA, it’s North America’s only European-style track and the layout truly makes it a driver’s track.
“The challenges for COTA is having a very balanced car that wears the tires evenly and having enough brakes to charge at the end of the race, especially into all of the passing zones which there are plenty of at this track. Due to all of the passing zones and track layout that facilitates passing, COTA is a fun place to race at and always makes for great TV.”
When you aren’t at a race track, what are some of your hobbies?
“When I’m not at the track, I’m usually working out, driver coaching, or testing, and developing cars. I enjoy technical things and gadgets and enjoy flying my RC airplanes, helicopters, and drones.”