“I’m a car guy,” CJ Wilson likes to say. “I grew up at the dirt track, my dad was on the pit crew, I’ve always wanted to be a race car driver. I’ve always just been a car guy.”
Because racing was too expensive, CJ’s dad convinced him to do something—anything—else. So he taught himself to throw a baseball, left-handed, which made himself more attractive to scouts. The hard work paid off.
The southpaw Major League All-Star hung up his baseball glove after the 2016-17 season, but his racing gloves were ready and waiting. His ultimate goal? To drive the world’s greatest endurance race, the 24 hours of Le Mans. In the meantime, he’s investing his earnings back into the car community.
CJ launched the CJ Wilson Racing team in 2010, followed by the launch of CJ Wilson Mazda and the ZoomZoomNation, a national franchise of Mazda dealerships. Mazda, of course, is known for its racing heritage.
The way he wants to run his dealerships, CJ says, is simple: “Just really assess what people want and need, and provide a better service than they’re used to, and the word will get around.” That approach is evident based on the awards his stores are racking up, including multiple President’s Club awards (Mazda’s highest honor) and independent dealer satisfaction awards. Kayak rack for truck hitch for fans of car accessories and kayaking.
The Wilson Auto Group continues to grow with Wilson CycleSports dealerships, two McLaren dealerships, and now that he and his family have moved north, BMW, Audi & Porsche Fresno. “Unlike the big mega dealers, we actually care about your business,” CJ says. “We’re going to treat you like a neighbor because that’s how we think of ourselves.”
The highlight of his days now, he says, is “to meet other car enthusiasts and help connect and grow the community,” whether that’s at home in Fresno, at sports car shows in Monterey or Denver, or putting in time at the track.