Usually a place where the joy of competition brings people together and spirits are high, the Mazda MX-5 Cup paddock will instead be a somber one for the upcoming races at Sebring International Raceway this week. On March 10, Mike Pasquale, a dedicated and loved member of the MX-5 Cup staff and Mazda community passed away after contracting COVID-19.
Pasquale had been an official since the very beginning of the MX-5 Cup series in 2006 and worked with SCCA Pro Racing for five years before that. With more experience, Pasquale’s presence expanded, and he became a regular for several racing programs.
“The news of Mike’s passing has hit us all very hard,” said Mazda North American Operations Motorsports Program Manager Jonathan Applegate. “Mike was a wonderful man that everyone loved working with. He was a unique character you were always happy to see. This loss will be felt across the MX-5 Cup community for a long time.”
Those who knew him will tell you that Mike always had a smile on his face no matter what. He genuinely cared about everyone around him and knew what was going on in their lives. His happiness was contagious, and he was probably the only race official a team was glad to see headed their way.
Perhaps more than anything, Mike was known for his humor. He was an encyclopedia of goofy jokes and master of puns, especially ones that made you laugh and roll your eyes at the same time. Mike worked as a pit lane official and had a running gag with drivers about his number one rule: “Don’t hit Mike.”
Mike is an irreplaceable part of the MX-5 Cup family and larger racing community. Everyone’s thoughts and support are with Mike’s family in this difficult time. Mike was also a generous soul, and gave to a wide range of charities. In lieu of flowers, Mike’s family has asked that those wishing to give remembrance donate to one of his favorite charities: The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Home Foundation or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.