Enthusiast Spotlights

Enthusiast Spotlight: Motorsports Enthusiast and M3 Owner Jonathan Chen

Tell US A Little About Yourself

My name is Jonathan Chen. I got into being a car enthusiast growing up around racing video games and the late 90’s underground racing scene, I dreamed of modding an imaginary 2000 Civic Si as a teenager.  I’d like to think I’ve grown out of that silly and immature phase, but the jury is still out.  I have grown more fascinated by automotive engineering which has driven my interest in seeking out the car enthusiast community.

What were you first car, favorite car and what are driving currently?

The upgrades are great, but what I love most is the process—taking the car apart, installing new parts, putting it back together and seeing it work the way you expect

What was your first car?

Lexus IS300

What was your favorite car?

BMW F80 M3

What are you driving now?

BMW F80 M3

What’s Been Your Best Car Enthusiast Experience?

I also can’t wait to get to tackle my first endurance race.

First experience at Petit Le Mans last year. It was incredible because we had the privilege of being invited to the BMW chalet with VIP access. I’m convinced it won’t get better than that. We did everything from visiting Pit Lane the day before the race, to racing around the track in the BMW Corral Parade (in my M3 at that), and experiencing a hot lap in an M5. Finally enjoying the race from the patio of the BMW Chalet at Turn 11.  Talk about a first time attending any motorsport race!

What is the best decision you’ve made with your car?

Adding an m-sport performance exhaust on the car; makes the F80 feel so much more aggressive; it’s incredible, especially on a cold start with the exhaust flaps open

What is the worst decision you’ve made with your car?

Miscalculated the speed to take an on-ramp to GA 400. I jumped the curb and did thousands of dollars worth of damage to my car. My car was in the body shop for weeks. In another car I owned I wound up taking a roadtrip for 4.5 hours to Charleston while simultaneously diagnosing a wheel vibration issue. 

What do you wish was different about car culture?

That it was more accessible/bite sized—watch parties for 24H Le Mans; more legit go karting/slick track experiences; experiences I can spend 1-2 hours on affordably and not have to jump through hoops just to enjoy

Everyone has car stories, tell us one (or two) that your friends already know but love hearing about anyway.

High-school buddy of mine would race down US 41 every day on the way home after school imagining ourselves in a late model sports car despite driving a Toyota Corolla and Nissan 240x.

I’m hoping to add a new story soon, but I love telling people that I am going to be a part of the ShiftAtlanta Lemons Team. It’s been exciting to be a part of the build project. I also can’t wait to get to tackle my first endurance race.

If you had unlimited money and 5 garage bays- what would you buy to fill them up?

  • Porsche GT2 RS
  • Maclaren 765LT
  • Porsche 991.2 Turbo S Cabriolet 6MT
  • Jaguar XKR-S GT
  • Ford GT MK II

What are some driving experiences you’re looking forward to?

Tail of the Dragon. A buddy of mine, Paul has been talking this up like it’s the greatest place in the world!

What’s your favorite car thing to geek out on?  

The upgrades are great, but what I love most is the process—taking the car apart, installing new parts, putting it back together and seeing it work the way you expect—it’s incredibly satisfying having an engineering background.  Sure, it may be software engineering, but it’s still interesting to me.

What other hobbies do you have?

Well, as a result of my general curiosity, it’s led me to quite a few hobbies—both collegiate and professional sports are one (football, basketball, soccer, baseball), hiking another, but the tinkerer inside me love IoT, 3d printing, microcontrollers, and home automation.

What’s something you know that other enthusiasts would be interested to know?

Cars are increasingly made up of software and they can easily be tweaked to unlock hidden features and potential in the car.  Chipping is certainly a part of that for performance, but there’s more under the hood if you know where to look!

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