Archangel Motorsports returns in Pilot Challenge

2003 Rolex 24. Image by Phillips/LAT

Archangel Motorsports returns in Pilot Challenge


Archangel Motorsports returns in Pilot Challenge


A name from sports car racing’s past will make a return next season as the Archangel Motorsports team enters IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge series. Best known for its efforts fielding Lola prototypes under the leadership of Mike Johnson in the early days of Grand-Am’s Rolex Series, Archangel has been reformed to run Porsche Cup champion Alan Brynjolfsson and WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona title winner Trent Hindman in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

The trio of Johnson, Brynjolfsson, and Hindman combined to earn one win and another podium result on the way to placing fourth in the Michelin Pilot Challenge GS class last season at Park Place Motorsports, and with their move, the group should continue its momentum in the series.

“We have great support from the Brynjolfssons, and the time was right to bring the Archangel name back to sports car racing,” Johnson told RACER. “We’re hoping to put together a long run for customers. The GT3 and GT4 categories are quite healthy, and I’m excited about the idea and optimistic about the opportunities ahead.”

Prior to joining Park Place, Johnson spent more than a decade running successful Grand-Am and IMSA programs for the late John Stevenson. Many years after Archangel was shuttered, assembling a new group of crew members and taking on the weight of team ownership was an unexpected twist.

“Almost every team I’ve worked for since Archangel had an owner who wanted to be successful, found it was harder than expected, and I was hired to come in and rearrange things, and change the culture from ‘let’s go racing’ to ‘let’s go winning,’” Johnson added.

“Even running Park Place this last year, where it was like setting up a new team, we did that same routine. But before restarting Archangel, I had wealthy team owners to rely on. Now, I need to rely on myself. When I was 20-whatever years old running Archangel, it made a lot of sense, but I made a lot of mistakes and lost a lot of money and eventually paid it all back. And then I worked for John Stevenson for 13 years and told him I’d run his team until I died, but he beat me to it, and here we are.”

Johnson hopes to recruit some of the familiar faces who made Archangel, and the teams he’s led since its closure, to lead the new effort for Brynjolfsson and Hindman on its debut next month in Daytona.

“I’m fortunate to have had a lot of good people who’ve worked for me, and believe they’ll follow me and they’ll be on board,” he said.