Living life in the fast lane

Kevin Johnson never finds himself far from car action.

‘From 2002 to date, I’ve raced in just about every race day that was held in Cayman,’ Johnson said.

Johnson can be seen tearing up the track in a white Mitsubishi Evolution III. Featuring a large front-mount intercooler, black aluminium spoiler and full-body roll-cage, his car looks as fierce as it performs.

In fact, Johnson has had much success on the track. Over the years, he’s racked up six trophies from racing in East End at the High Rock quarter-mile facility.

Among his many accolades are holding the record for the fastest four-cylinder car in the ¼ mile and being the 2004 points champion in the four-wheel drive class.

Since Breakers Speedway opened up, he’s added two more trophies.

Recently, Johnson took his ride to a regional competition. Johnson ran his Evo hard in Antigua.

Johnson competed in seven races. Like the rest of the Cayman contingent, he raced in the street-class division. Johnson won all his races in grand fashion.

Johnson’s best time was 10.9s at 130mph. Johnson’s rival, Michael ‘Bad Oil’ Williams, was right behind him. Williams ran a time of 10.9s at 129mph in a heavily modified white Evo III of his own.

Other members of the Cayman group also did well. The lowest time belonged to Jody Jervis in his white Nissan Skyline R33 GT-S. His GT-R motor shot the car down the ¼ mile in 10.8s at 128mph.

Meanwhile Patrick Campbell, in a black Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, rumbled down the track in 11.2s at 125mph.

Johnson capped off his Antigua performance with a display of bravado.

‘The races were straight grudge matches. After I won my races I stayed on the track and called for more competitors. Nobody showed up.’

Unfortunately, Johnson will have to wait to get back on the track. Like most of his fellow Cayman racers, his ride is still in Antigua.

Johnson first got into racing in 2001. He started out with a Toyota Levin that doubled as his daily driver. It had a homemade water injector system (which ingeniously sprayed water onto the turbo) and a twin-charged engine.

In spite of the quickness of that ride, Johnson wanted something more for his need for speed.

Consequently, he acquired a blue 1998 Subaru Impreza Sti. It too was heavily modified and featured a homemade water injector system. Johnson used the car to set most of his records on the track as it often dominated the competition.

Like many good racers, Johnson has delved into all forms of racing. He considers himself primarily a drag racer. He prefers running his 4WD car, known for its solid handling, on straightaways than in the corners.

‘I’m afraid of the circuit. The car has too much power. I’m afraid of the corners as I often struggle to keep the car under control. I love drag racing to the core and I’m a drag racer to the end.

‘I also like the time attack races. I like the concept and I enjoy competing; plus people like watching me run.’

Aside from his prowess on the track, Johnson is respected in many circles for being a notoriously adept tuner. He builds his own engines, gearboxes and does his own tuning and maintenance.

His wizardry with cars goes from ugly to pretty in the blink of an eye.

‘I don’t believe in giving my car to other people. In the time I had the Impreza I destroyed six gearboxes and five engines. However I’m known for getting my cars ready to race quick. I’ve been known to train and do practice runs on Wednesday, take the car apart and fine-tune it on Saturday and have it ready to race on Sunday.’

Johnson even transferred his tuning prowess into a business. Before Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Johnson had a dynamometer. The machine was part of a business entity in Cayman called Dyno Ltd.

He used the device, commonly referred to as a dyno, to rate people’s horsepower and help them fine-tune their rides.

‘I was the first person in Cayman to own a dyno. Back in the day, I would tune people’s cars.

‘After Ivan, the race scene slowed down in Cayman. So it was shipped to Jamaica as the country had a need for it. I might bring it back to Cayman if racing picks up here.’

Originally from Jamaica, Johnson has been in Cayman close to nine years now. With Cayman residency in hand, he considers Cayman his second home. Most days, Johnson can be found making a living as the director of Hue-Lyew Chin Structural Engineering based in the first unit of Pasadora Place.

Looking back, Johnson credits Joe Myrie as being one of his inspirations for getting into the Cayman race scene. Myrie used to race a yellow NAPA Chevrolet Corvette.

‘I look up to Joe Myrie. He was one of the founders of racing in Cayman. He’s so devoted to racing in Cayman. He raced in Cayman for a long time.’

For now, Johnson’s focus is on the future. He says he is eyeing the next major race being held at Breakers on 29 June.

Though his ride could easily win a race on the street before then, he intends to save his glory for the track.

‘I don’t speed on the road. I take it to the track and try to set an example.

‘Besides, my car is too fast to race on the street anyhow.’