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