published Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Byron DeFoor and AC/DC singer Brian Johnson to race at Daytona Speedway

Elliot Forbes-Robinson, Byron DeFoor, Brian Johnson, David Hinton, Larry Ligas and Andrew Green, from left, stand next to a Riley BMW Daytona prototype that will compete in the Rolex 24 Hours in January.
Elliot Forbes-Robinson, Byron DeFoor, Brian Johnson, David Hinton, Larry Ligas and Andrew Green, from left, stand next to a Riley BMW Daytona prototype that will compete in the Rolex 24 Hours in January.
Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


Top three teams in Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona:

• First: Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham Rahal

• Second: Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray

• Third: Max Papis, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and JC France

AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson has a passion, not just for rock, but for race car driving.

“To get in a race car is a dream come true,” the frontman for the iconic band said in Chattanooga on Saturday.

Johnson and Chattanooga businessman Byron DeFoor, a classic-car owner and avid racer himself, are teaming up to drive a 24-hour race in January at Daytona International Speedway.

“I’d like to get in the top 10,” DeFoor said at his home, where he unveiled the car that he, Johnson and three former race winners will drive in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

The event, featuring cars with top speeds of about 200 miles per hour, routinely draws some of the biggest names in NASCAR and road racing. It traditionally kicks off the road-racing season and now is in its 50th year.

Johnson, AC/DC’s lead singer since 1980 and a longtime driving enthusiast, has known DeFoor for years. He said DeFoor brought up the idea of co-driving the 24-hour competition.

“I said I’d love to give it a try,” Johnson said in an interview before a reception that was to include about 200 mostly Chattanooga-area people, including U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, and representatives of the cable TV network SPEED.

The rocker said he wants to do more than just complete the grueling race, aiming for a top-tier finish in the car that has a Riley chassis and BMW engine.

That’s possible “if we keep [the car] the right way up,” he quipped.

Johnson and DeFoor will be aided by veteran drivers Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Jim Pace and Carlos de Quesada. All the drivers are age 50 or older.

DeFoor said one reason for entering the race is to help draw attention to and raise money for the Austin Hatcher Foundation, a locally based group that fights pediatric cancer.

It’s estimated that a 100 million viewers will watch the race. Its 3.56-mile, 12-turn course uses both Daytona’s oval and road tracks.

For their GRAND-AM debut, DeFoor and Johnson will pilot a car prepared by Predator Performance and Alegra Motorsports, the co-drivers said.

DeFoor wouldn’t say how much was spent on the car. But to buy it new would cost about $1 million, he said.

The 24-hour competition will be both Johnson’s and DeFoor’s first such race.

“You want more power and to move up to the next level,” said DeFoor about why he entered.

DeFoor and his brother, Ken, are developing Waterside Lifestyle Center on Shallowford Road.

They also head a company that purchased the old BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee “Gold Building.” Byron DeFoor additionally has had interests in health care and banking.

It’s estimated AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million in the United States.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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