Spirit of Mazda: John Carter

Spec Miata racer energized everyone at the track with enthusiasm and positivity

There are those who come to the track and no matter what kind of day they are having, the simple joy of racing makes them glad to be there. Often, those people lift everyone’s spirits as well. John Carter was one of those people, and one who left us way too soon. But his love for life and the sport earns him the first posthumous Spirit of Mazda award.

“The kid was never in a bad mood,” says Jim Drago, who often raced against him. “He had a smile on his face from the minute you saw him.”

Carter, who passed away in June, was a talented racer as well, winning at the American Road Race of Champions before moving to Spec Miata, where he holds the track record at Road Atlanta. He was also an accomplished competitive swimmer before he took to racing, and friends describe him as a genius, particularly when it came to computer coding.

“He was just very carefree,” says John Davison, Carter’s teammate and drafting partner at AutoTechnik Racing. “He wasn’t scared of anything, and it showed in his driving. But he never really took it too seriously to where he wasn’t having fun. He was always laughing and making other people laugh. I don’t think I ever saw him mad.”

Davison says Carter loved his Mazdas on the street, as well. He had an RX-8 and always said he wanted to put a rotary in everything. “We could tell stories about John all day long and never get tired of it because they were always just so crazy and funny. He lived life the same way he raced – full throttle,” Davison says.

Even a bad day couldn’t get him down. “The guy was just a beacon of sunlight,” says Drago. “I touched him at Atlanta when we were fighting for the lead and he went off. He didn’t get upset – he knew we were just racing hard.”

Drago and others say that Carter will be missed by everyone, which is a testament to who he was and the way he raced and lived his life. That love for the sport is why John Carter is the Spirit of Mazda award winner for June.