We recently had a chance to sit down and talk with long time enthusiast and friend of ShiftAtlanta, Chris Johnson. Chris is an avid track day enthusiast, has been a supporter of Jzilla since the beginning and known the ShiftAtlanta team for decades.
Being A Jzilla Sponsor And Insider
Q: JDM vs DTM is being position as featuring Jzilla track day instructors. Tell me a little bit about the event and is it different than a typical Jzilla event?
First off, thank you for the opportunity to chat about Jzilla track days and the JDM vs DTM event. JDM vs DTM event was the 10 year anniversary of Jzilla . It was important to me to support an organization that provides so much to the track day enthusiast and racer for this important time for Jzilla.
James Marcella, Mr. Jzilla himself, and I have been friends for going on 33 years now. I support him in his endeavors as he has supported me in my real estate endeavors. This event was a great thought for James to bring out some unique cars and drivers that don’t typically do a track day event. It allows people of all ages and abilities to get involved in a safe and fun track environment. This event was pretty typical of every Jzilla event. Show up, have fun, be safe, learn something and go home without any incidents. The instructors provide years and years of experience to the students and any track day participant for that matter. With the open skid pad to allowing any instructor to hop in the car and help you out with anything you need help on. Jzilla creates this environment for us all to continue to grow and learn as drivers and as friends.
Background As A Car Enthusiast
Q: Tell Me A Little Bit About Your Background As A Car Enthusiast
Oh man, my background as a car enthusiast. It started when I was a young boy of my love for anything cars. My father wasn’t a car enthusiast. In fact, he’s often disagreed with anything I’ve ever done with cars but I’ve taught myself and learned from my experiences. Both positive and negative situations.
I really started out as wanting to have the loudest and best stereo system I could afford. I went to Installer Institute for car audio MECP training and I immediately landed a job with one of the Atlanta’s best car audio companies at the time HiFI Buys. Early on I was building out the car audio rooms at the Steve Reynolds Blvd location and then I got moved back to Kennesaw which was closer to home to install. I got to built some amazing systems from a Saturn, to a golf cart for the Atlanta Hawks to a Dodge Viper and anything in between. I loved car audio and still do to this day.
Then I found speed. I’ve had close to a dozen Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon cars, anything from non turbo to turbo AWD models. I built a crazy fast Eagle Summit that weighed nothing with a 2.0L turbo eclipse motor that would blaze the tires at 75mph on I75.
Then I met a couple other friends that owned Corvettes and that is where my love for the Corvette started. I always loved them but it seemed out of reach as a college student to ever own one. That changed in 2004/2005. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed modifying that car for the track and building another car for shows and road trips.
Intersection Of Being A Car Enthusiast And Business
Q: Tell Me About Your Real Estate Business. What Makes You Different Than Others
My real estate business is really a culmination of many things in my life. After the car audio days and not really making the money I wanted to make, I joined my family mortgage company to go to work. After 3 years of originating loans, I asked one of our real estate appraisers if I could ride along with him for a few days. I LOVED it. I quickly got my real estate appraisers license and I’ve been doing appraisals all over this country since. In 2012, I decided to expand on my education some and got ASHI certified as a home inspector and in 2014, I got my real estate license. In 2017, I got my real estate brokers license, and it helped me expand my real estate business from GA into FL, where I help people buy and sell homes in Atlanta and Tampa.
I’ve got some great partners and team members that help me do what I love to do. It’s been my calling all along. So, this kind of experience over 26+ years allows me to be different that any other Realtor. I’ve seen things and been involved in situations that has allowed me to learn how to handle those situation to make sure my clients are well cared for and they ultimately get what they need!
Q: How Has Your Business Enabled Your Car Hobby? How Has Your Hobby Enabled Your Business?
Being a car guy, its helped me in my business in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I love to network with anyone from any walk of life. The cars are just the source of happiness for so many and It’s just a tool to bring us all together for so much more in life! Car crazy people have different needs for their cars and having a realtor that understands that allows a better representation of my clients needs when its important. My hobby has been just one catalyst to bringing about the growth of my business. It provides for so many different parts of my life and Im truly grateful for those friendships and the trust that comes from that.
You can learn more about Chris Realty Group and their services at their website: https://www.chrisrealtygroup.com/
Dedicated Track Car
Q: Tell Us About Your Track Car
My track car is a 2000 Chevrolet Corvette FRC (fixed roof coupe). It’s known as the baby z06 as they made the FRC in 99/2000 as a test bed for the z. My car is white which in 2000, only 315 of them were made. So, its originally a pretty rare car. I put a large amount of miles on it when It was a daily driver for the first few years of ownership. Now it gets really only driven on the track and a few miles on the street a year. The motor is an LS6 from a z06. It has been modified pretty heavily, of which I have done all the work myself with the help of a few great friends. The heads are Tony Mamo ported AFR heads, Fast 92mm intake with 90mm throttle body, DRM oil cooler kit that’s attached to a 3qt accusump system. Callaway Honker air intake system, Kooks headers, x-pipe to GHL exhaust. The suspension consists of GM T-1 sway bars with upgraded heim joint end links, AMT motorsports camber plates, poly bushings, AP racing 4 piston calipers in the front and upgraded z06 brakes in the rear which stop 18×10.5 z06 wheels that are covered in Nitto Nt-01 tires in the sizes of 315/30/18 on all 4 corners. The car is a full aero’d car with the first test kit from 9 Lives Racing. The car is just now starting to really get refined and the kinks really worked out. The alignment was done by Barry Trivette at Robinson Racing which really allows the aero to do its job too. It’s a blast of a car to drive.
Other Forms Of Racing Experience
Q: Have You Done Other Forms Of Racing That Isn’t Road Course Track Days (endurance, time attack, sprint, drag, drift, etc)
I haven’t’ done any other forms of racing but sure would love to get into endurance racing in the future. Editors note: You know we can help you with that right? I mean, if it isn’t too much of a step down in power from the Vette to Team Nein Blinker.
What Do You Think The Car Scene Needs Most?
Q: What Do You Think The Car Scene Needs Most?
I think the car scene has changed so much over the years from when I was a young man hanging out. I miss the large cars shows from NOPI that allowed every car from every make to be shown. If it were me, I think having regular car meets that had a great location for ease of access and being able to leave when you wanted to is so needed. The scene needs a pick me up if you will. The burn outs at events causing the event to be cut short has grown old and keeps people from wanting to come out. Fun events, good and safe locations, and a chance for the younger generations to learn something from the older generations.
Favorite Atlanta Area Track
Q: What’s Your Favorite Track In Atlanta, Why?
It’s hard to not pick Road Atlanta. It’s a world class facility with all kinds of parts of the track that you’re always able to learn from and become a better driver. What I love about Atlanta and the tracks around it, is that you have so many great tracks within a few hours drive. You have Atlanta Motorsports Park, Road Atlanta, Barber, VIR, CMP, Roebling, The FIRM, Sebring, soon to be Flat Rock USA (formerly Oakridge Motorsports Park before it moved), NCM, Little Tally and others.
Must Do Car Event
Q: What’s Your Can’t Miss Atlanta Car Event (besides your own track days/sponsored events)
Besides my sponsorship of Jzilla and working the event I sponsor, It’s hard to pass up Caffeine and Octane. I also love an old school Saturday night cruise-in. It’s hard to pass up an old cruise in with some older cars that just bring back some nostalgia for me.
Bucket List Of Tracks
Q: Give Me 5 Bucket List Tracks You Haven’t Driven Yet
The 5 bucket list tracks for me are like this….
- Road America
- Daytona Road Course
- This one is a toss up from Laguna Seca and Sebring. Both have tremendous history and both have their own quirks that would be a good drive.