Mazda Motorsports Spotlight: James Painter

James Painter has been with MAZDASPEED Motorsports for the last eight years, providing technical knowledge and tips to Mazda racers for the competition parts program. For Mr. Painter, it’s all about creating smiles for his customers. So, we caught up with him to learn more about him.

James, to start, tell us about your responsibilities for MAZDASPEED Motorsports.

My focus is largely on consulting racing customers -MAZDASPEED Team Support Program members -and prospects over the phone by providing customer service, and parts and technical support. While that keeps us busy, I also help process online parts orders, approving race results for membership and do some paper pushing – processing racers’ contingency award payment requests, as long as they are compliant (see rules here). And then at times, work takes us out of the office to the race track – a most righteous place – to support the racers with parts, tech advice, jokes and all around good vibes.

Prior to working in the motorsports department, you worked for a Mazda dealer. Would you tell us a little about that?
That’s right. I worked in the parts department for three different Mazda dealerships in Northern then Southern California, dating back to 1992. In fact, I first met Scott Kaluza when we both worked at Cush Mazda over twenty years ago. In my last position at a dealership, I served as the Parts Manager for several years at Westcott Mazda in beautiful National City, CA.

Didn’t you earn the Mazda President’s Award?
How did you know that?! That is also correct. I earned it in 2004 and 2005 when I was working as a Parts Manager for Westcott. In order to win the award, the parts department had to have achieved amongst the highest scores regarding certain sales and inventory criteria in Mazda’s western region of the United States.

Other than work, what are your interests?
Most of my interests are centered on my family. My lovely wife coach’s softball and my daughter plays softball, therefore, I watch a lot of softball. Also, I love cars and guitars. Although I don’t play very well, I have a collection of Japanese and American guitars. My son’s getting pretty good and I play them with him. At the office while at lunch, I often ride my bike to the University of Irvine and back to get some semi-fresh air and exercise.

So softball, music, dogs and cars. As for cars, will you share your thoughts on that interest?
My first interest in cars goes back to the muscle cars of the ‘60s. Growing up in the ‘80s, these super cool cars were fun, powerful and cheap (and so was gas). When I first started working in the warehouse for Almaden Mazda in ’92, I drove a 3rd gen RX-7 to pick up lunch for the crew. After that, I was hooked on rotaries for the longest time. I had daily drivers that include an R100, RX-7, RX-4 and an old REPU (Rotary Engine Pickup), which, the latter, I put on 90,000 miles. Currently, I’ve been helping my son maintain his ’89 323 and just picked up an ’01 Miata. As for my current daily, when I leave my home to commute 60 miles each way through the treacherous asphalt jungle of Southern California, I take solace in knowing that my Mazda3 has a five star crash rating, gets 41mpg and is more nimble afoot than most any car in its class (and many others). It gets me to work and back safely, economically and swiftly, all with a smile on my face. Driving Matters.