Longtime sports car racing team owner Johnny Stevenson passed away suddenly on Monday, Sportscar365 has learned.
The Stevenson Motorsports patriarch, who owned a network of car dealerships in North Carolina, was 69.
According to a report from WNCT9, Jacksonville, N.C. police are still investigating the cause of the death, which happened at Stevenson Toyota this morning.
Stevenson’s sudden passing comes just weeks after the decision for the championship-winning team to cease operations at the end of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, after 15 years in the sport.
The team won the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS championship, as well as the North American Endurance Cup title in 2013, in Grand-Am, having accumulated 33 wins and 75 podium finishes in more than 270 starts since 2013.
A reason for the team’s closure was not given at the time.
Stevenson and his wife Susan were honored just last week during the WeatherTech Night of Champions end-of-year awards ceremony with a painting, commentating the team’s involvement in IMSA.
“Everyone in the IMSA family is shocked and saddened to hear the news of Johnny’s passing,” IMSA president Scott Atherton said in a statement. “Johnny led a fantastic race team for many years, and he will be missed in the IMSA paddock.
“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go out to his wife, Susan, and the rest of the Stevenson family.”
The team had long been linked with GM, having most recently run the new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in Continental Tire Challenge competition, having given the car its maiden win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July.
“We are saddened by the sudden, unexpected passing of Johnny Stevenson,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports.
“He was a kind and caring man who always conducted himself with class. He will be missed by everyone on his team and within the racing community.
“John was a strong competitor and partner, and a great friend. Our thoughts are with Susan and the Stevenson family at this difficult time.”
Sportscar365 extends its condolences to the Stevenson family at this time.