A Runoffs Podium for Prather’s RX-7

Jesse Prather finished third at the SCCA Runoffs in the car he built as a tribute to Tom Thrash

With limited development time and one complete race under its belt, Jesse Prather’s expectation of a good finish for his very fresh first generation E Production RX-7 at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs seemed optimistic at best. Not only did he prove that his optimism was warranted, he landed on the podium at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a third-place finish.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” Prather says. “That was only the second race weekend for this new car. I was treating every session during the week as a test session. I was busy with my customers the weekend before so I was not able to do any testing on the Runoffs course until I hit the track Monday morning for qualifying. The car really reacted to the changes I made not only before the Runoffs, but during the week. I couldn’t be happier with a brand-new car.”

Prather qualified seventh in the first-generation RX-7 he built as a tribute to late racer and close friend Tom Thrash, and while he got by Jon Brakke’s Miata at the start, he also had a car get by him. But with some attrition and a hard battle with Eric Powell, he made his way to third permanently by lap nine. It was a solid effort not only for a new car, but someone who had 32 engine or car customers at Indianapolis for the Runoffs who potentially needed attention throughout the week.

The bad news for his competitors? “There’s more,” Prather says of his car’s potential. “That’s what I told the guys on the podium. This is just the beginning of what you’re going to see with this car because it’s so brand new. With a little development and some tuning and testing, the car’s going to be even faster, no question.”

Prather was testing the new EMCO gearbox that was built as a twin to the old PBS gearbox that’s still a favorite with GT and Production racers, and was very pleased with it. He thinks the next thing he’s going to work on over the winter is shock development.

“I plan on working with a shock developer that can provide me with what I really want with this car. I don’t want to poo-poo the shocks that are in the car, because they obviously work pretty well; but shock development is going to be a big part of where I go with the new car. Chassis setup and spring rates are going to be a big part of it as well,” he explains.

Ultimately it’s all designed to show what Prather and Jesse Prather Motorsports can do – and to get him another SCCA national championship. “I spent a lot of time on this car and it shows,” says Prather. “I believe when I show up for the Runoffs next fall, the car will be fast enough to compete for the win.”