May Spirit of Mazda Nominees

Ten outstanding Mazda racers and aficionados await your vote for Spirit of Mazda

From racers to mechanics to race workers, there are many people in motorsports who embody the Spirit of Mazda. Mazda Motorsports seeks to recognize those who go above and beyond in their quest to be the best they can be. 

The Spirit of Mazda has seven basic principles. They are:

  • Integrity – We keep acting with integrity toward our customers, society and our own work.
  • Basics/Flawless Execution – We devote ourselves to the basics, and make steady efforts in a step-by-step fashion.
  • Continuous Kaizen – We continue to improve with wisdom and ingenuity.
  • Challenger Spirit – We set a high goal, and keep challenging to achieve it.
  • Self Initiative – We think and act with “self initiative.”
  • Tomoiku – We learn and teach each other for our mutual growth and success.
  • One Mazda – We think and act with the view of “Global” and “One Mazda.”

The nominees for the May Spirit of Mazda award are:

Jonathan Black
Jonathan Black is a tech and race strategist for Panic Motorsports. Not only does he keep the fleet of Spec Miatas running smoothly for Panic and its customers, he’s also been known to do some racing himself, both in Spec Miata and the occasional ChampCar (formerly Chump Car) race. Black has been with Panic since 2009.

Jeff Dernehl
Jeff Dernehl is one of the top GT-3 racers in the country. He has stood on the podium at the SCCA Runoffs several times, including last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he finished second. His RX-7 is immaculately built and prepared.

Mike Haag
Mike Haag is the owner of Haag Performance and has been involved in racing with Mazda for more than four decades. In that time he’s been involved with just about every production-based class in which Mazdas race, including GT, Production, IT, Pro 7 and, of course, Spec Miata. In that time he’s become well known for his rotary engine prowess. 

Bill McGavic
Bill McGavis is a longtime GT-3 racer in an RX-7 that he has campaigned for two decades. To get an idea of who he is, know that you might spot him in the paddock wearing a propeller hat that says: “I don’t wanna grow up!”

Tony Rivera
If it’s motorsports related, chances are Tony Rivera has done it. The son of Luis Rivera, the pair owned a shop in Denver that specialized in Mazdas, with Tony owning his own rotary engine shop, TR Rotorsports. Rivera was the technical director for SCCA Enterprises, has autocrossed and club raced, raced an RX-8 in IMSA’s Koni Challenge, and been a winner in several classes of Pirelli World Challenge.

Mike Rossini
Chances are, if you’ve looked at a set of club racing results, you’ve seen the name “Rossini.” That’s because Mike Rossini is one of the most prolific and successful Spec Miata engine builders in the country. He does all the work himself, and drivers using his engines have stood on the podium at the Runoffs and NASA Nationals many times. And no matter whose engine a driver uses, he’s always happy to lend a hand to solve problems.

Joe Varble
Joe Varble is a longtime Mazda racer and Mazda transmission guru. He’s raced just about everything Mazda from RX-2s to Miatas and has served on the IT7 advisory group for SCCA’s Club Racing Board.

Mark Weber
Mark Weber is often the busiest guy at the racetrack, both racing himself – often in two different classes – and being a photographer. At the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, he’s not only one of SCCA’s official photographers, but he’s also racing in E Production and F Production in the same Miata. Weber gets to a lot of races in the Southeast and Midwest, so keep an eye out for his red and yellow Miata.

Sydney Davis Yagel
Sydney Davis Yagel got her start in racing as crew for her father and as a volunteer for SCCA’s Houston Region before she was old enough to race. But when she started racing herself, she raced a Mazda. She has moved through various volunteer positions including race chair and Regional Executive, became MSR Houston’s event manager and is now SCCA Pro Racing’s Senior Manager of Race Operations.

Brian Zellner
Brian Zellner is the shop manager for Atlanta Speedwerks, a prep shop that has done much work with Mazda racers, including being the force behind the new Spec MX-5 Challenge. Zellner has built several championship-winning cars and handles all aspects of making sure that the cars Atlanta Speedwerks handles are prepped safely and reliably.

Go here to cast your vote.