Ten outstanding Mazda racers and aficionados are finalists for Spirit of Mazda
Across the spectrum of motorsports – racers, mechanics and the volunteers who make a race weekend run smoothly – there are many 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 July Spirit of Mazda award are:
Ed Gilfus was once considered one of the best Spec Miata chassis set up guys in the business. The owner of Gilfus Racing Enterprises in Texas – he’s now retired – Gilfus also spent many years as a technician at a Mazda dealership.
Mike Haag has been racing Mazdas for four decades, competing in everything from GT-3 to Pro-7 and Spec Miata. He owns Haag Performance, which specializes in building Mazda engines – especially rotaries – transmissions and rear ends. He frequently spotlights his Northern California customers on his Web site.
Todd Lamb has long been competing in various forms of Spec Miata, from club racing to MX-5 Cup, winning a pair of Spec Miata championships and the 2009 MX-5 Cup title along the way. He now runs Atlanta Speedwerks along with the Spec MX-5 Series. He serves on SCCA’s Spec Miata Advisory Committee and was instrumental in the recent selection process of the new shocks for the class.
Ryan Lesher owns Lesher Motorsports in Salinas, Calif. The shop has Spec Miata rentals for racing, track days and corporate events, and also does performance upgrades, track car builds and other work only a short distance from Laguna Seca.
Nick Leverone is one of the owners and president of Flatout Motorsports. A nationally competitive autocrosser turned road racer, Leverone is now a regular winner in SCCA Majors in both Spec Miata and Super Touring Lite, in addition to winning a number of professional races. As data acquisition and driver coach for Flatout, he’s helped many of his customers improve their racing game.
Dan Pardus made a career in stock car racing before starting his own utility services company. As he looked to pass down his racing love to his kids, Danielle and Preston, he got them into Spec Miata. That worked out well for Preston, who won the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the class.
The son of a national champion racer, Jesse Prather has become a Mazda stalwart and cheerleader, building parts for a variety of Mazda race cars that are sold through Mazda Motorsports. A national champion himself, he’s a top-notch race car builder and the go-to guy for building engines for the Production classes.
Scott Rettich is one of the most successful racers to compete in spec classes, and Formula Enterprises is one of those. The Ohio driver has six national championships in the class, including four straight from 2013-’16. He’ll be going for the first FE2 title at Sonoma Raceway at the Runoffs in October.
Mike Rossini started out in motorcycles, managing and wrenching for successful young motocrossers. Years later, when he got the competition bug again, he tried Spec Miata and got hooked. He’s now one of the top engine builders for Spec Miata and is expanding his business to include full prep shop services.
The 2016 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires champion, Nathanial “Sparky” Sparks started off in the Teen Mazda Challenge before moving to MX-5 Cup in 2012 running a car with his father before joining Sick Sideways.
Voting closes Friday, September 14. A voting link was sent via the Mazda Motorsports eNewsletter on Tuesday, September 11.