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Words: Kristie Bertucci
Photos: Brian McGee
When you know your calling in life, you go out of your way to make it happen. Jimmy Tonoyan of R1 Motorsport knew at 17 that he wanted to work on cars for the rest of his life and dropped out of high school. While some might frown upon such a risky move, Jimmy knew it would propel him to his future endeavors as a shop owner.
An immense amount of hard work, trial/error and perseverance has to take place in order to be successful, and Jimmy has been able to make his dreams come true turning R1 Motorsport into one of L.A.’s hottest shops in a few short years. The Ferrari 488 GTB is the perfect example why! Owned by a loyal client and good friend of Jimmy, the Ferrari was completely dressed for a bolder and more aggressive look thanks to Jimmy and his small crew. The 488 came in as an enviable red exotic, but left the shop as minty green over-the-top performance ride worthy of illicit stares from bystanders. The full Liberty Walk widebody kit includes front, rear and side diffusers for enhanced aerodynamic properties; a rear wing for reducing drag out on the track; and wide fenders for that signature look.

“It’s only growing bigger and bigger everyday,” he says. “ My goal for the next year is to get a larger space and more employees. But my ultimate goal is to have my own brand of exhausts made to be sold worldwide!”

Since the owner is an avid track enthusiast, Jimmy made sure it handled well on the track as well as on the streets, adding Novitec hydraulic adjustment suspension springs and a one-of-a-kind R1 Motorsport custom fabricated full exhaust that ups the horsepower from 660hp to 772hp (after all mods). The stance is perfect thanks to a set of staggered HRE 501 3-piece wheels, with 20” in the front and 21” in the rear that were paired with Pirelli P Zero ultra-high performance tires giving it the grip and performance expected from such a supercar.
“[The owner] gives me the freedom to do what I think looks the best for the car,” Jimmy details. “We met five years ago at the track and ever since his first custom, he’s realized how much he could trust me. He’ll mention a few brands and colors he prefers, but completely trusts me for the end result.” Having built a total of 10 cars for this particular owner in that last five years, Jimmy admits that the GTB is actually the fourth he’s done for him in just 2018! That’s exactly the reason why Jimmy doesn’t regret any of his past choices leading up to R1 Motorsport. The shop first started out as Royal Muffler given he was offering custom exhausts back in 1999. But after seven years of muffler work, Jimmy knew it was time to expand his offerings and created R1 Motorsport in 2011.
“While I was doing the muffler thing, I was trusted with a few high-end projects and that started to increase after time. I realized I needed to branch out and changed the name and here I am now.” Although custom exhausts are still his forte, Jimmy has expanded his skills to include just about every part of the customization process. From kits, suspensions, wheel and tire packages, wraps, vehicle tint and more, R1 Motorsport does it all. “As soon as I dropped out of high school, I started working with my uncle at a mom and pop shop,” Jimmy explains. “He taught me basic welding and from there everything else has been self-taught. My motivation and ability to teach myself new things got me to this level.”
Now, Jimmy and his small team of four are churning out more builds than they can handle! “We’re completely booked a year out,” he admits. “I’m looking to hire new people since we’re getting all sorts of requests and I want to be able to do more cars.” Currently, they have more than 18 performance and luxury vehicles waiting to be given Jimmy’s magic touch. Fully hands on with every build that leaves the shop, Jimmy lives and breathes customization.
“Don’t expect to find any bolt-on parts. Everything we do is custom. Our designs are more aggressive than other shops – we focus on track-spec and not just on looks,” he says.
Currently, Jimmy’s working on Post Malone’s Lamborghini, but past celebrity clients include Kim Kardashian, Kobe Bryant, Tyga and plenty more. But Jimmy doesn’t focus his business solely on working on celebrity-owned vehicles. “I like working with enthusiasts more than anything. People who really know cars and appreciate the build entirely. I’m all about putting new things on the table and never duplicate any work.”
“Don’t expect to find any bolt-on parts. Everything we do is custom. Our designs are more aggressive than other shops – we focus on track-spec and not just on looks,” he says.
While the shop is good at every aspect of their work, he admits it’s their wrap and fabrication game that’s on another level. Clients may go in for basic wheel and tire packages and leave with full builds a few weeks later, according to Jimmy. Although business is amazing right now, Jimmy’s far from getting comfortable.

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