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#61
Craig Berry

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Congrats Blake! Well deserved! One of my favorite people to race. Blake is Very fast, talented, and a no excuses guy....as well as being one of the most entertaining paddock personalities!
Circuit of the Americas Winner - Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver BFG Supertour Winner - Majors Winner - Make it Rain - Made Paypal donation of $100+ We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations!

#62
Danica Davison

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Congrats Balakey!!!!


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#63
Danny Steyn

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Congrats BFC. Wheelman and Spec Miata ambassador. Always enjoy my dices with Blake


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#64
MPR22

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Congratulations Blake, that’s a really cool honor.
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#65
Johnny D

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Ademir Fedumenti

 

Fedumenti1-400x244.jpg

 

S.A.C. Racing owner not only provides cars for champions, but he has raised a champion himself

 

Elivan Goulart knows quite a bit about what makes a champion. He’s won SCCA National Championships in Formula 500, Spec Miata and STU, as well as the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car A title driving an MX-5. He gives much of the credit for his success to the man who owns S.A.C. Racing – a man he also knows as his father – Ademir Fedumenti.

 

“He put a lot of time, love and effort into the sport, specifically with Mazda,” says Goulart. “His place in history goes back to the ’70s and ’80s in Brazil. He’s always tinkering to the last little bit to gain that extra edge while still playing by the rules, and we really respect him for that. He’s a great man, always studying the sport, studying people, and he’s done very well.”

 

Anthony Geraci is a client of Fedumenti’s, having raced with him since 2012. He echoes Goulart’s sentiments about pushing the envelope – but always within the rules – and his love of the sport. “He loves to see the evolution not only of the car, but of the drivers; so when you talk about passion, it’s at every level,” Geraci says. “He’s been a big part of the advancement in my racing career and I’m blessed to have him in my life, because he’s not been just a business associate, he’s become like family. I can’t tell you how many races, and there’s always been at least three teammates other than myself, and none of us have ever missed one race. The word is perseverance. No matter what, he got us on track. I’ve never experienced another team that has gone over and above like him.”

 

Fedumenti2.jpg

 

Last year, S.A.C. Racing defended its TCA championship, this time with Matt Fassnacht winning the title and Goulart finishing second, after switching from the NC MX-5 to the Global MX-5 Cup car. Not only that, S.A.C. won Crew of the Year and Team of the Year, despite Fedumenti suffering a stroke mid-season yet committing that the team would finish the year.

 

“That speaks volumes about stepping into a series and becoming a huge force to be reckoned with,” says Goulart. “That was a high achievement and I think it brought a lot of joy to him. More importantly, though, being his son, he’s also been a huge mentor to me, from karts all the way to racing, and it gave him a lot of joy to see the development. Of course, we have our family time that we argue back and forth, but always in the spirit of getting better. Together, it really helped us excel and move forward. And he just loves the Mazda brand.”

 

It’s one thing to be loved by family and the people who are driving for you. It’s another to be loved and respected by competitors, and Geraci says that Fedumenti has achieved that.

 

“In every business, you’re going to have that person that people love to tease – his peers, his competitors,” he says. “But they also have mutual love and respect. They know he’s the guy they love to tease, and he’s the fighter that’s going to come back at them. But he’s well respected because he’s the person they’ll go to when they need something. Not just on the team level, but on a series level, you can talk to any competitor in the paddock and they won’t have one bad thing to say about Ademir Fedumenti.”

 

For Flawless Execution and Continuous Kaizen, Ademir Fedumenti is the Spirit of Mazda winner for February.


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#66
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Congratulations to Ademir and to Elivan. A great team, a great family and well deserved.

 

Dave


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Dave Wheeler
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#67
chris haldeman

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Congrats!!!! Certainly a fantastic addition to the spirt winner family!!
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#68
Johnny D

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Chris Graham

 

Graham-400x244.jpg

                     Chris Graham and Charles Carden

 

Engine builder places people before profits

 

There are a lot of good engine builders who are excellent at what they do, and for all of them, the goal is to deliver the best powerplant they can. That is Chris Graham’s goal as well, but that’s because he’s all about making the customer happy.

 

“What I like about Chris is his willingness to help people for the good of the sport,” says Shea Hughes, owner of Racing Analytics and a customer of Graham’s. “He is the owner of Race Engineering, which has built a ton of Spec Miata engines. He’s really done a tremendous job of rebuilding that business, [and] he’s done that through relationship building. He has a tremendous ability to accommodate the needs of racers at all levels, from club racers on a shoestring budget to someone that wants to test the pro ranks and build something on the higher end.”

 

Hughes isn’t alone in his feelings about Graham. Like Hughes, Charles Carden is in the prep shop business and, like Hughes, is a beneficiary of Graham’s services.

 

“He’s a great guy with a big heart,” says Carden. “He’s really conscientious about his business. Last year we had an issue with an engine, and he made three six-hour trips from his house down to Atlanta to help us get the problem solved. We left the same day we put the motor in and went racing, and it ran flawlessly after we got the hiccups solved.”

 

Carden attributes much of his success, and the success of drivers in his cars, to Graham. Carden’s customers have competed and won in a variety of venues such as SCCA, American Endurance Racing, World Racing League and SVRA. Building Spec Miata engines these days has some significant challenges, but Graham has proven up to the task.

 

“It’s a complicated rule set, and I don’t envy him, at least where Spec Miata is now,” says Hughes. “You have to be right at the edge, but you can’t be over – that’s a lot of pressure for an engine builder. As prep shops, we have a habit of calling and saying, ‘I want the biggest, best engine you’ve got, but it can’t be over.’ He’s got to comply with the current specifications. That’s a tough job and a lot of pressure from guys that want to see big numbers on a dyno but don’t know what goes into making that number.”

 

Both Carden and Hughes also note Graham’s fun side, and that plays a big part in how Graham has run his business. Graham doesn’t just build engines; he builds relationships. “That’s the root of his business,” says Hughes. “It’s not about profit margins, not solely about performance, it’s about making sure that his customers are happy and making sure he does everything he can to accommodate those customers.”

 

For adhering to the principle of flawless execution, Chris Graham is the April recipient of the Spirit of Mazda award.


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#69
Johnny D

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Jonathan Black

 

JBlack1-400x244.jpg

 

Panic Motorsports tech has mastered the art of flawless execution

 

“He is the hardest working guy in motorsports,” says Panic Motorsports owner Steve Bertok, without a hint of hyperbole. “You’ve heard the joke that every shop has that one guy who is filthy by 8:30 a.m.? That’s Jonathan Black. He dives right into everything.”

 

But it’s not just enthusiasm and hard work that makes Black, Panic’s tech and race strategist, worthy of the Spirit of Mazda winner – it’s the attention to detail and making sure everything is done absolutely properly.

 

“He is hell-bent on winning,” says Becca Bertok, Steve’s wife and co-owner of Panic Motorsports, who has known Black since they were in seventh grade together. “You don’t really see it in enthusiasm, but you see it in detail. He’s very quiet and reserved, but he’s going to make sure that whether it’s Steve’s or one of our clients’ cars that it is done the right way, without question.”

 

JBlack2.jpg

 

Black is not only a great tech, but a pretty good driver as well, running Spec Miata and occasionally Touring 4 in an MX-5. “Somehow he learns by osmosis, because for the little time he gets in the car, he’s really pretty quick,” says Steve.

 

That helps Black with chassis setup and data analysis, which are a couple of areas where Steve says Black excels. As in the other things, it just comes down to an excruciating attention to detail.

 

“He’s got just enough OCD about him that he always does the job 100 percent,” says Steve. “It’s always the same way and repeatable and I know the job is going to be done right. He does all my data work and chassis setup, and the setups are always right. When it comes to data, he’s always got data to share with customers and other people in the paddock. If you want a 2:21 lap or a 2:25 lap, he’s most likely got data and video. He can help anybody at any level.”

 

For Flawless Execution, Panic Motorsports’ Jonathan Black is the Spirit of Mazda award winner for May.


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#70
Danny Steyn

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Congrats Jonathan!


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#71
Johnny D

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ANN O’MALLEY :clap:

OMalley-400x244.jpg

 

Late “Track Mom” and wife of Dave Wheeler remembered for taking care of racers

Dave Wheeler says he knew that Ann O’Malley was a keeper – and must have liked him – when she came back to Blackhawk Farms for a second day after her first visit to a racetrack ever. Her lack of exposure to motorsports made her eagerness to jump in and take care of racers all the more remarkable. It is why O’Malley, who passed away from a brain tumor earlier this year, is being honored with a posthumous Spirit of Mazda award.

“Everybody called her the track mom, because she took care of everybody,” says Wheeler, who owns Advanced Autosports, a prep shop specializing in Spec Miata in Beloit, Wis. “We would have 12 or 15 cars at the racetrack and she made sure everybody had water and Gatorade and made lunch. She went and woke people from their motorhome when they were taking naps and overslept.”

Wheeler and O’Malley met on a dating website 11 years ago. Their first date was on a Tuesday before the June Sprints and Wheeler attempted to explain where he was going that weekend, but it was all new to her. On the way back from Road America, he called O’Malley and they talked for two hours. Her willingness to not only accompany Wheeler to Blackhawk Farms, but also return for another day, was a pretty good sign. And being new to the motorsports game herself, she took a special interest in others learning the ropes.

“She really liked dealing with the newbies, the people that were just kind of confused,” Wheeler says. “She had the patience that I don’t have to deal with them and made sure they knew where to go and when to go there. And she explained to people that when they went through registration for a test day, they still needed to go through for the race day. She was good at that kind of stuff for someone who has absolutely zero background in racing until she met me.”

Like most people who spend years around the sport, it wasn’t so much the cars or the competition that O’Malley loved, it was the racers, the crews and their families.

“I’ve said for years that you go to the racetrack the first few times for the cars, then you keep going back for 30 years for the people. She just really enjoyed the people we race with, both the direct customers and the indirect customers that were buying parts form us – but also everybody else. She was real good with the humanity side of it,” Wheeler notes.

Her actions align perfectly with tomoiku, learning and teaching each other for mutual growth and success. For that, and for taking care of people plus so much more, Ann O’Malley is the Spirit of Mazda award winner for July.


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#72
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RIP Sweet Ann.


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#73
chris haldeman

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We love you and will forever miss you Ann.
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#74
Marc Cefalo

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ANN O’MALLEY :clap:

OMalley-400x244.jpg

 

Late “Track Mom” and wife of Dave Wheeler remembered for taking care of racers

Dave Wheeler says he knew that Ann O’Malley was a keeper – and must have liked him – when she came back to Blackhawk Farms for a second day after her first visit to a racetrack ever. Her lack of exposure to motorsports made her eagerness to jump in and take care of racers all the more remarkable. It is why O’Malley, who passed away from a brain tumor earlier this year, is being honored with a posthumous Spirit of Mazda award.

“Everybody called her the track mom, because she took care of everybody,” says Wheeler, who owns Advanced Autosports, a prep shop specializing in Spec Miata in Beloit, Wis. “We would have 12 or 15 cars at the racetrack and she made sure everybody had water and Gatorade and made lunch. She went and woke people from their motorhome when they were taking naps and overslept.”

Wheeler and O’Malley met on a dating website 11 years ago. Their first date was on a Tuesday before the June Sprints and Wheeler attempted to explain where he was going that weekend, but it was all new to her. On the way back from Road America, he called O’Malley and they talked for two hours. Her willingness to not only accompany Wheeler to Blackhawk Farms, but also return for another day, was a pretty good sign. And being new to the motorsports game herself, she took a special interest in others learning the ropes.

“She really liked dealing with the newbies, the people that were just kind of confused,” Wheeler says. “She had the patience that I don’t have to deal with them and made sure they knew where to go and when to go there. And she explained to people that when they went through registration for a test day, they still needed to go through for the race day. She was good at that kind of stuff for someone who has absolutely zero background in racing until she met me.”

Like most people who spend years around the sport, it wasn’t so much the cars or the competition that O’Malley loved, it was the racers, the crews and their families.

“I’ve said for years that you go to the racetrack the first few times for the cars, then you keep going back for 30 years for the people. She just really enjoyed the people we race with, both the direct customers and the indirect customers that were buying parts form us – but also everybody else. She was real good with the humanity side of it,” Wheeler notes.

Her actions align perfectly with tomoiku, learning and teaching each other for mutual growth and success. For that, and for taking care of people plus so much more, Ann O’Malley is the Spirit of Mazda award winner for July.

 

 

I had the privilege to meet Ann and spend time around her at the track.  One word comes to mind whether it was on the phone or face to face at the track.....Kindness.....   It was just natural, never forced and always present.

 

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” 
Mark Twain

 

Many have seen and heard her kindness across the country.  Rest in peace Ann


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Marc Cefalo

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#75
Danny Steyn

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"Only the good die young" - miss you Ann - you were such a wonderful smiling face at the races!


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Danny
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2016 June Sprints WInner, ARRC Winner, NASA Eastern States Championships Podium

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2009 SARRC Champ, SEDiv ECR Champ, FES Champ
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June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner Series Champ - Won a points based series in a Spec Miata ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver NASA Champs Winner - NASA Champs Winner June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata Majors Winner - BFG Supertour Winner -

#76
MPR22

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I have been away from the track for a few months and I miss racing but most of all I miss Ann.  She was absolutely one of the reasons to go to the track.  Her smile and personality were an irresistible attraction.   

 

We miss you so much Ann.  


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Shattering - For those who cant drink tequila NASA Champs Winner - NASA Champs Winner Majors Winner - Novel Approach - When a paragraph simply won't do... We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver Donor - Made PayPal donation

#77
davew

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Sunday was 6 months since we lost Ann. I still miss her. But each day gets a little better. Seeing our friends at the race track always makes the day better.

 

Thank You all for you kind words and Thank You to Mazda for this award.

 

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

4 time Central Division Spec Miata Champion car builder 2012-2013-2014-2017

Back to Back June Sprints Spec Miata 1-2 finishes 2016 and 2017

5 time June Sprints winner in Mazda's

6 Time Northern Conference Champion Car Builder

2014 SCCA Majors National point Champion car builder

2014 SCCA Runoffs winner, T4 (Bender)

2014 Central Division Champion, ITS (Wheeler)

2013 Thunderhill 25 hour winning crew chief

2007 June Sprints winner, (GT1, Mohrhauser)

Over 200 race wins and counting.
www.advanced-autosports.com
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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

#78
Johnny D

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Jesse Prather

 

SoM-Prather-5429_RSJ-400x244.jpg

 

Engine builder, car builder, racer – Jesse Prather does it all with honesty and integrity

 

In racing there are drivers, there are mechanics, and there are car and engine builders. Some try to do it all, but very few are successful – much less to the level of winning three SCCA national championships and building cars and engines that have clinched many more titles. But Jesse Prather is that person.

 

Driver, mechanic, car builder, engine builder, parts engineer – he’s done it all. Not only did he win three straight national championships – two in F Production and one in E Production – in a Miata he built, his father won two more GT-Lite titles in the same car. Last year at the Runoffs, Jesse had 32 engines competing; two of the engines he built were in national championship-winning cars. He also made the debut of his Tom Thrash-tribute EP RX-7 that year, driving the first-gen car to a third-place finish.

 

But there were many years in between his championships and last year that Jesse didn’t compete at the Runoffs. The reasons were simple, notes his father Kent Prather, himself the winner of eight SCCA national championships: He felt he needed to take care of his customers.

 

“I’ve learned you have to have integrity,” says Kent. “I’d say I taught him integrity and honesty. Because sometimes you make mistakes, and when you make a mistake, you can remember that mistake and tell the customer that mistake, and you don’t lie to them, and you work out what it’s going to take to fix it. Also I’m very particular as a machinist. There’s no question he learned all that and improved on it.”

 

Notes friend and engine customer, as well as 2017 F Production National Champion Eric Prill: “While Jesse still competes at a national championship level, his focus is on the success of his customers. Like any other driver, he’s working to stand on the top step of the podium every time he races, but there’s nobody more excited than Jesse when one of his customers achieves their goal, even if they beat Jesse to get there.”

 

Last year at the Runoffs, Jesse took time out of his own car prep to put on a seminar for the new EGMT transmission from Mazda Motorsports, answering questions as he tore it down to change gear ratios. But the questions didn’t stop there.

 

“We have a picture … he goes to put the transmission in the car, and his legs are sticking out and there are three other sets of legs sticking out too,” laughs Kent. “They’re not in there helping him; they’re in there asking questions. In all of that, he never gets rude or flustered, which is a characteristic I don’t have. He’s got that, ‘I’ll take care of my customer before I take care of myself’ attitude.”

 

Jesse worked with his father for years, including the period when he was winning at the Runoffs. Eventually, Prather Racing, Kent’s company, ran out of space and Jesse Prather Motorsports was born.

 

Not only has Jesse turned into one of the top engine builders for Production-class racers in the country, he builds great cars, too. He has designed several parts – such as a coilover setup for first- and second-generation Miatas, and an oil pan baffle – that are sold through Mazda Motorsports. Those parts are tried and tested on his own racecars.

 

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Even his own championships are the result of making a customer happy, Kent explains. The Miata in which he won those titles was originally built for a customer. “The customer didn’t like the car,” Kent explains, “So we bought it back for what we had in it. We only had this two-week period to qualify for the Runoffs, but [Jesse] raced the four races and qualified. Building that Mazda Miata for that guy out of a 300,000-mile car taught us a lot. Then we got successful in the Miatas and other people wanted our stuff.”

 

Those national championships wouldn’t have come without driving talent, another quality Kent says Jesse has in spades, nurtured through years of growing up at the track watching his dad and others compete. Kent says racing is like playing a piano – there are a lot of people who will practice for years and they’re never going to get it – Jesse, however, is a natural driver.

 

Obviously, being named a recipient of the Spirit of Mazda award goes beyond any one discipline in this case.

 

“He likes to play hard, he likes to work hard, and he has tremendous integrity and honesty,” says Kent. “I think it’s the honesty that separates us from others – sometimes bad stuff happens and you just have to take it like a man and take care of it. That leads you to doing good work.”

 

For hard work, for excellence, for honesty and integrity, Jesse Prather was voted by the Mazda Motorsports community as the July winner of the Spirit of Mazda.


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