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#21
Johnny D

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Sick Sideways

 

Noaker-SickSideways-5662_RSJ-400x244.jpg

 

MX-5 Cup champion John Dean II’s outfit concentrates on pro racing

 

When one hears the term “Mazda prep shop,” what usually comes to mind is a fleet of Spec Miatas maintained for SCCA and NASA club racers. While Sick Sideways does transport and support a fleet of Miatas that are built for a spec class, rather than first- or second-generation cars, they are Global Mazda MX-5 Cup cars raced by its customers in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires.

 

Sick Sideways owner John Dean II races right alongside those customers, winning the series championship in 2015. His current customers include 2017 Mazda Road to 24 Shootout winner and Round 2 race winner Selin Rollan; 2016 champion Nathanial Sparks; Ashton Harrison; and Robert Noaker. While Sick Sideways, operating out of its Sebring, Fla., shop, doesn’t do a lot of club racing – attending a half-dozen events a year and helping some customers running the previous-generation MX-5 Cup car – they do venture beyond pro racing.

 

“We service track day clients, we store, maintain and transport for track day guys, race car guys, pro racing stuff, as well as build customer cars,” says Dean. “We do some performance street cars and we’re going to start doing more and more of that. And [we’re going to] start some drag racing stuff because Sebring just opened up the front straight – they used to do it years ago, but they just reopened it to drag racing last year.

 

“We do a lot of track day car builds,” he continues. “We’ll put roll cages in guys cars that want to go have fun. Some stuff is time-trial based. We do some SCCA cars. We do a lot of custom work, custom turbo builds, custom catch tanks … anything that we look at a car and think, ‘We need this,’ we just custom build it.”

 

A little over a year ago, Sick Sideways moved into a larger facility, still just down the road from Sebring International Raceway, that has room for expansion. Dean says he has some big goals over the next few years to build a training facility on the site, starting with a skidpad and building from there. He thinks it would be a great complement to the rest of the business, for which he also has some expansion plans.

 

“We love the MX-5 Cup,” he says. “It’s a really big part of our business and we plan on staying in the MX-5 Cup as long as we can. That will be our introductory tier to pro racing, and eventually maybe move into Continental [Tire SportsCar Challenge] or something like that level, so if our MX-5 Cup guys want to make that step, they can continue that in our business and we don’t lose them to go to another team. That’s kind of our two- [or] three-year goal.

 

“We’re really excited about where we’ve started, where we’ve gone. We have great clients, we have a really good staff, we have a lot of fun and we’ve been very successful and won a lot of championships.”

 

Sick Sideways’ logo adorns the doors of some of the best racers in MX-5 Cup. But where did the unique name originate?

 

“It’s just a fun term, about driving sideways,” explains Dean. “I was working for Skip Barber for years, and we would demo laps … where we’d give rides, and I did a bunch of exhibition stuff, drifting, where we’re giving shows, giving rides, showing off different cars and products. Everybody was coming up to me to ask my opinion on how they were driving, because they looked up to me as a result of my driving style. It was a term I just started using: ‘Dude, you were sick sideways out there.’ When I was starting my business, it was a no brainer for me. It worked out and it’s really catchy and easy to remember.”

 

A catchy name for sure, and Dean adds that then-series television announcer and family friend Randy Pobst had so much fun saying that it played a big part in the growth of the team. But, it’s likely the team’s performance that makes the biggest impression.


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#22
Johnny D

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Planet Miata

 

PlanetMiata-400x244.jpg

 

Miata parts supplier has transformed into a one-stop Spec Miata shop

 

“Planet Miata has been in business since ’05,” explains principal and Spec Miata racer Marc Cefalo, fresh off a double victory at the SVRA Mazda Miata Heritage Cup race at Road Atlanta. “We started off as a parts supplier for Mazda Miatas; we specialized in all the generations. That morphed into motorsport.

 

“I’ve been racing Mazdas all my life, since ’97,” he says. “I started with RX-7s, both first- and second-generation cars, then moved into Miatas – I did my first build of Spec Miata in ’02 and haven’t really looked back since. And as the popularity of the class has grown, so has the business. What started off as small little company in a two-bay garage has grown into a campus of a few acres and four large buildings; if you added them all together, we’re probably just shy of 30,000 square feet. It’s been one heck of a ride.”

 

Planet Miata stores and maintains about 30 cars, most of them Spec Miatas, but also a few track-day machines. They’ll take care of four to eight customers on any given race weekend, whether that’s club racing or vintage, and they still maintain a hold in the road car side of things, doing a lot of upkeep on daily and – being in Pennsylvania – summer drivers. But motorsports is the biggest part of the business.

 

“The motorsports aspect has increased probably tenfold over the last five or six years,” Cefalo explains. “Basically, it was a hobby, now it’s a fulltime gig. We’ve expanded the services to our spec Miata customers, [building] the cars in-house. We have the luxury of having our own paint booth, so all paint and body repairs are done in-house. We try to keep as much internal as possible, always trying to find the better way to put the cars together and make them faster and more competitive.”

 

Planet Miata typically builds 10 to 12 cars a year, sending them all over the country. They do everything with the exception of engine builds, which are handled by X-Factor Racing in Texas. But one thing that Planet Miata does in-house that many don’t is blueprint transmissions – it’s something Cefalo is proud of.

 

“We’ve sold just shy of 30 already this season,” he says. “One thing that’s unique to us is that those are broken in and dyno tuned. No need for worrying about the gearbox working right out of the gate.”

 

The shop has a trio of rental cars, but most of the business is arrive-and-drive for customer-owned cars. And while Spec Miata is the biggest chunk of the work, Planet Miata is also looking down the road at what comes next.

 

“We work on the first-generation cars with SVRA, and I’ve been fairly successful with the NA chassis at the [SCCA] Majors level,” says Cefalo. “But we work on all four generations [of MX-5]. I’ve personally started working with McCumbee-McAleer Racing in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, because eventually that is going to trickle down to the club level. While we’re always trying to evolve and do new things with the current Spec Miata cars, there’s also T4 with the NC MX-5, and gaining knowledge on the current ND. Past, present or future, we make it work.”

 

Planet Miata
Swoyersville, Penn.
www.planet-miata.com


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#23
Johnny D

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East Street Racing

 

EastStreet1-400x244.jpg

 

Jim Drago’s outfit has a number of championships to its name, including several for its principal

 

East Street Racing has gone from a dealer in salvage parts to a distinguished prep shop with a host of championships to its name. But while the salvage trade is still a big part of the business, motorsports is making up an increasingly larger part of the pie. “I guess we started racing in 2003 [or] 2004 – I started in Spec Miata and we’ve gone into STL and a couple of other classes,” explains owner Jim Drago. “I started racing, and that has morphed into building cars, building engines, suspension parts and doing trackside support. Since 2006 we’ve managed to win three national points titles, five SCCA National Championship Runoffs and two NASA National championships. We have eight to 10 customers that rotate in and out of our trackside support.”

 

Drago himself accounts for a couple of those Runoffs wins in Spec Miata, while Preston Pardus is the company’s latest SCCA National Champion, scoring the SM victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in one of East Street Racing’s rentals.

 

“We pride ourselves in renting top cars that can actually win, not run-of-the-mill rental cars,” says Drago. “I’m probably most proud of Preston’s win at Indy – such a big race and the fact that truly was a car we built to rent. That goes to show that any car we build is built to be just as good as the next one. [Pardus] was able to get into that car without winning any Majors or Super Tour races, everything clicked and he was able to win probably the biggest Runoffs to date.”

 

Aside from Pardus, Drago counts some other well-known names in the SM world as customers, such as Erik Stearns and Todd Buras. And beyond his trackside support customers, there are a lot of racers using East Street engines and transmissions. Drago says he typically does between 75 and 100 engines a year, plus about 125 transmissions. That’s in addition to building between eight and 12 complete cars each year.

 

In addition to taking care of customers, Drago has also raced in Street Touring Lite and Touring 4 – he finished a hard-fought second in Touring 4 at the Mid-Ohio Runoffs in 2016 – and he’s working on a rather interesting new STL project. The fact that he’s done all the work on the cars himself is extremely gratifying for him.

 

“The one thing that I’ve personally always liked and I’m proud of is the cars I’ve won National Championships with, I literally have built the entire car here,” he says. “I built the engine here, I built the transmission here, I was the lead engineer, the data coach, the setup coach. Few people can really say that they have won the Runoffs that way – somebody has always done something for them. It’s pretty neat we did everything from the ground up and did it ourselves.”

 

While East Street use to not buy Miatas for the salvage side of the business, now Miata parts have turned into a mainstay as they go into the racing side – from body parts to many other pieces that Drago rebuilds, it has turned into two complementary sides of his business. “We sell every piece of the car,” he says.

 

East Street Racing
Memphis, Tenn.
www.eaststreet.com


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#24
Jim Drago

Jim Drago

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Hey, I know that guy :)


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East Street Auto Parts
Jim@Eaststreet.com
800 700 9080

Hoosier Super Tour points Champion - Hoosier Super Tour points Champion ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata Series Champ - Won a points based series in a Spec Miata BFG Supertour Winner - Majors Winner - Circuit of the Americas Winner - We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner SCCA National Champion - Won SCCA Runoffs at Road America SCCA National Champion - Won SCCA Runoffs at Road America

#25
davew

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Just for the record, Advanced was the first Prep Shop Profile, we just never made it to this website ;-(

 

The amazing thing is that all these Prep Shops work together off the track. We fight to the death on the track, but in the paddock we all look out for each other, trade parts with each other and share ideas with each other. I don't think any other class of racing can say that.

 

I consider Tom, Nick, Steve, Ralph, Chris, Marc and Jim to be friends, as much as competitors.

Thank You all

Dave


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Dave Wheeler
Advanced Autosports, the nations most complete Spec Miata shop
Author, Spec Miata Constructors Guide, version 1 and 2.0

Building Championship winning cars since 1995

3 time consecutive Central DIvision Champion car builder 2012-2013-2014

2014 SCCA Majors National point Champion car builder

2014 SCCA Northern Conference Champion car builder, Spec Miata (Burdzy) and T4 (Bender)

2014 SCCA Runoffs winner, T4 (Bender)

2014 Central Division Champion, ITS (Wheeler)

2013 Thunderhill 25 hour winning crew chief

2007 June Srints winner, (GT1, Mohrhauser)

Over 200 race wins and counting.
www.advanced-autosports.com
dave@advanced-autosports.com
608-313-1230

Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Sponsor / Advertiser - Site sponsor / advertiser... support these guys! Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver

#26
Johnny D

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Advanced Autosports

 

Advanced2-9798_RSJ-400x244.jpg

 

The Wisconsin prep shop is a powerhouse in the Spec Miata world

 

You’ve likely seen Advanced Autosports Spec Miatas if you’ve raced anywhere in the Midwest. Dave Wheeler and his crew support a fleet of rentals and many more customer cars. They prepared a car for Julian Garfield, the Mazda Solo Advancement Scholarship winner, supplying him with the Spec Miata he raced this season in his first season of national-level road racing.

 

“I’ve got about 45 cars in the shop right now,” Wheeler says. “Probably 37 of them belong to customers, and the rest of them belong to me as rental cars and my personal car. We averaged, for 2017, probably 11 or 12 cars a weekend.”

 

For most of those, Advanced Autosports is providing pre-race prep, transport and trackside support. But not everybody needs every service. Wheeler says some customers will take their own cars to the track and handle the minor stuff, letting Advanced Autosports take care of the big stuff. The shop does everything in house except for bodywork and engines, for which he uses Chris Haldeman’s X-Factor Racing.

 

Advanced1-400x244.jpg

 

Speaking of the big stuff, Wheeler is happy to build a race car for a customer. “We probably build between five and 10 cars a year,” he says. “We’re probably the only prep shop in at least this half of the country that also has a significant parts business, which kind of sets us apart from everybody. Now you can build a car off my shelves. I have everything from lug nuts to wheels to gasket sets to the specialty parts that we make.”

 

Wheeler has also added a Global MX-5 Cup car to the mix, for SCCA Touring 3 rentals. And, of course, Advanced Autosports is happy for someone to run their SMs in STL. The shop regularly helps customers running SCCA, Midwestern Council of Sports Car Clubs, and now SVRA. In fact, Wheeler and company have a car they built specifically for SVRA Mazda Miata Heritage Cup.

 

A new thing for Advanced Autosports is supplying cars for the LevelUp Racing School for its schools that are run in the Midwest. “I’ve known Pete [Stolz], the owner of LevelUp, for about 10 years,” says Wheeler. “It was a natural fit for us to work with them on their Northern stuff, because they are based out of Wisconsin like we are. We did their first two events at Blackhawk and Road America and plan on doing six or eight next summer.

 

Advanced Autosports
Beloit, Wis.
www.advanced-autosports.com


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2011 NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship E3 Champ
We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#27
Jim Drago

Jim Drago

    East Street Racing / 2 Time National Champion

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Just for the record, Advanced was the first Prep Shop Profile, we just never made it to this website ;-(

 

The amazing thing is that all these Prep Shops work together off the track. We fight to the death on the track, but in the paddock we all look out for each other, trade parts with each other and share ideas with each other. I don't think any other class of racing can say that.

 

I consider Tom, Nick, Steve, Ralph, Chris, Marc and Jim to be friends, as much as competitors.

Thank You all

Dave

:thumbsup:


East Street Auto Parts
Jim@Eaststreet.com
800 700 9080

Hoosier Super Tour points Champion - Hoosier Super Tour points Champion ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata Series Champ - Won a points based series in a Spec Miata BFG Supertour Winner - Majors Winner - Circuit of the Americas Winner - We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner SCCA National Champion - Won SCCA Runoffs at Road America SCCA National Champion - Won SCCA Runoffs at Road America

#28
Johnny D

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Autotechnik Racing

 

Autotechnik-400x244.jpg

 

Spec Miata racing has transformed this Florida prep shop

 

Like many prep shops, Jeff LaBounty started Autotechnik as a car repair business, but as Spec Miata grew more popular, it soon consumed the business – now it’s all he does. “I’ve been doing Spec Miata since 2000,” LaBounty says. “It started with one customer, helping him, then I sold a car and it grew from there. I used to do regular repair work, but the racing got so busy that we stopped. I hired somebody and we do race cars full time now. We probably have 15 customers that are with me all the time, plus we do other competitors’ cars. We do roll cages, we do our own engines, body shop work … we do everything in house; there’s nothing that gets farmed out.”

 

Those 15 customers are the ones that store their cars at Autotechnik and the ones the shop takes to the track, but LaBounty says he also regularly works with six or eight other racers who bring their cars to the track themselves. This year his customers are mostly racing regional events; he expects that to change next year when the SCCA National Championship Runoffs returns to the East Coast at VIRginia International Raceway, much in the same way the SCCA Majors action was heavy when the Runoffs came to Daytona in 2015.

 

Autotechnik has three rental cars – two ’99s and a VVT – and will build complete cars, but LaBounty says he doesn’t do many of those. “We can start from scratch, but a lot of times the customers will bring me a car and we’ll do the cage and a couple of other things and give it back to them,” says LaBounty, who has been racing for nearly 40 years himself.

 

While there are a variety of prep shops on the East Coast and in Florida specializing in Mazda and Spec Miata, LaBounty says there are a couple of things that keep his customers coming back to Autotechnik. “Honesty and giving them what they paid for are the two main things I concentrate on,” he explains. “We try to make them happy, we try to see their side of things, and we stand behind the work we do. Honesty is a big part of that – we tell them straight up what’s going on.”

 

Autotechnik Racing
Cape Coral, Fla.
www.autotechnikracing.com


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2011 NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship E3 Champ
We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#29
davew

davew

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Just for the record, Advanced was the first Prep Shop Profile, we just never made it to this website ;-(

 

The amazing thing is that all these Prep Shops work together off the track. We fight to the death on the track, but in the paddock we all look out for each other, trade parts with each other and share ideas with each other. I don't think any other class of racing can say that.

 

I consider Tom, Nick, Steve, Ralph, Chris, Marc and Jim to be friends, as much as competitors.

Thank You all

Dave

 

Add Jeffy Boy racing to the list of friends


  • Danica Davison likes this

Dave Wheeler
Advanced Autosports, the nations most complete Spec Miata shop
Author, Spec Miata Constructors Guide, version 1 and 2.0

Building Championship winning cars since 1995

3 time consecutive Central DIvision Champion car builder 2012-2013-2014

2014 SCCA Majors National point Champion car builder

2014 SCCA Northern Conference Champion car builder, Spec Miata (Burdzy) and T4 (Bender)

2014 SCCA Runoffs winner, T4 (Bender)

2014 Central Division Champion, ITS (Wheeler)

2013 Thunderhill 25 hour winning crew chief

2007 June Srints winner, (GT1, Mohrhauser)

Over 200 race wins and counting.
www.advanced-autosports.com
dave@advanced-autosports.com
608-313-1230

Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Sponsor / Advertiser - Site sponsor / advertiser... support these guys! Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver

#30
Mike Collins

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Add Jeffy Boy racing to the list of friends

 

No love...


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Mike "MEATHEAD" Collins
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MEATHEADRacing
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Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+ Sponsor / Advertiser - Site sponsor / advertiser... support these guys! Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Sugar Daddy - Made PayPal donation of $500+ Donor - Made PayPal donation Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. MX5 Cup Participant - Has Participated in a MX5Cup.com Series Event Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other

#31
Mike Collins

Mike Collins

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Mike "MEATHEAD" Collins
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Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+ Sponsor / Advertiser - Site sponsor / advertiser... support these guys! Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Sugar Daddy - Made PayPal donation of $500+ Donor - Made PayPal donation Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. MX5 Cup Participant - Has Participated in a MX5Cup.com Series Event Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other

#32
Johnny D

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Windsor Customs

 

Windsor-400x244.jpg

 

Maryland prep shop specializes in Miatas and the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series

 

Chris Windsor’s journey into the prep shop business is a familiar one. It started out assisting one guy, helping him develop the suspension setup on his Spec Miata, and that guy went from the tail end of the field to the front. Then the racing bug bit Windsor and he started competing in Spec Miata. The snowball was rolling downhill and getting bigger

 

“I was going to build a rental car and try to get something going that way,” he explains. “My dad was looking to get involved, so when the car wasn’t rented, he would race it. That ended up being the other way around – when Dad wasn’t in it, maybe I could rent it. So then we ended up building another couple of rentals, and we had customers hopping in the rental cars, seeing how good they were and buying [the rental cars]. We were selling them as fast as we could build them.”

 

Now Windsor Customs takes care of 30 to 40 cars, with about a third or more of those residing in his shop. That could be everything from transport to trackside support, pre-race prep and new car builds. He also has a fleet of rentals. Most of his work is in Spec Miata, including several SSM (Sealed Spec Miata) cars, a class popular in SCCA’s DC Region, and some NAs that are getting more track time with the advent of the SVRA Mazda Miata Heritage Cup (Windsor has three wins in the series this year). It also includes some NC MX-5s for Touring 4 and SM5

 

Windsor concentrates on the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series, MARRS, which is the DC Region’s championship; but he’ll go where his customers want to go. “People want to know where we’re heading; I tell them the customers steer the truck,” he says. And he’s confident that truck has everything the racers might need during the course of a weekend.

 

Windsor says his shop does everything from builds to coaching. “We are a one-stop shop. If somebody wants to get involved in racing, we’ve got a ladder program that can help them develop their skill set. We’ve had guys graduate through what we can do and move along the ranks into the pro series.” he says. To that end, Windsor also ran several cars in the MX-5 Cup series a few years ago.

 

Most of all, Windsor says, he wants to make sure his customers are happy. “We’re responsive,” he says. “We make sure everybody can get back on track. If somebody has a damaged car, we do whatever is needed to get them ready for the next race.”

 

Windsor Customs
Maryland
www.windsorcustoms.com


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2011 NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship E3 Champ
We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Beta-Tester - Assisted us with beta testing the website. Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill Instigator - Made a topic or post that inspired other Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+

#33
Johnny D

Johnny D

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Jesse Prather Motorsports

 

JPM-400x244.jpg

 

Jesse Prather has turned his modest operation into one of the premier engine builders in the country

 

Most people associate the words “prep shop” with an outfit that cleans and repairs race cars between races, then transports them to the track and provides support during a racing weekend. That’s not what Jesse Prather Motorsports does. “Building Mazda engines is how I started this company, and it still is the bulk of my company,” says Jesse Prather. “I build race cars and I do custom fabrication and things of that nature, but I don’t really consider myself much of a prep shop.”

 

Along the way, however, Prather has become one of the pre-eminent builders of SCCA Production-class race cars – even if he only builds a couple a year – and one of the biggest builders of Production-class engines.

 

“I always have between six and 10 engines that I’m working on in various stages of completion. Last year at the Runoffs, my engines were on the pole in every Production class. That’s something I’m very proud of. The key for me is to see my customers succeed. That’s the way I run my business. I do enjoy racing myself, but I get more satisfaction out of seeing my customers win. To have someone like Matt Reynolds win multiple national championships, and Eric Prill winning F Production last year, is very satisfying,” says Prather, he himself a three-time SCCA National Champion.

 

Prather doesn’t build only Mazda engines, but Mazdas are the majority of his business, and he says that of 15 F Production Miatas at the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, his engines were in 13 of them. He’s also starting to build a lot of Mazda engines for the Super Touring Lite category as well and doing more dyno tuning on the engines he builds.

 

Beyond that, Prather usually builds two complete cars a year (plus his own, such as the first-generation RX-7 he finished third in at the 2017 Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway). He also does a lot of custom fabrication, like coming up with an adapter to make the Mazda Motorsports 5-speed transmission by EMCO work with Miatas.

 

“I also have race cars in here,” he says of his shop in Topeka, Kan. “Generally, they are here for either major repairs or alignment, corner weighting, custom roll cages and things of that nature.”

 

The bulk of his business, though, remains race car engine building. And given the success he’s had at it, there’s no wonder he intends it to stay that way for a long time to come.

 

Jesse Prather Motorsports
Topeka, Kan.
jesseprathermotorsports.com


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