In racing there are drivers, there are mechanics, and there are car and engine builders. Some try to do it all, but very few are successful – much less to the level of winning three SCCA national championships and building cars and engines that have clinched many more titles. But Jesse Prather is that person.
Driver, mechanic, car builder, engine builder, parts engineer – he’s done it all. Not only did he win three straight national championships – two in F Production and one in E Production – in a Miata he built, his father won two more GT-Lite titles in the same car. Last year at the Runoffs, Jesse had 32 engines competing; two of the engines he built were in national championship-winning cars. He also made the debut of his Tom Thrash-tribute EP RX-7 that year, driving the first-gen car to a third-place finish.
But there were many years in between his championships and last year that Jesse didn’t compete at the Runoffs. The reasons were simple, notes his father Kent Prather, himself the winner of eight SCCA national championships: He felt he needed to take care of his customers.
“I’ve learned you have to have integrity,” says Kent. “I’d say I taught him integrity and honesty. Because sometimes you make mistakes, and when you make a mistake, you can remember that mistake and tell the customer that mistake, and you don’t lie to them, and you work out what it’s going to take to fix it. Also I’m very particular as a machinist. There’s no question he learned all that and improved on it.”