AluMMni Spotlight: Jake Thiewes

When were you in MM?

2007 to 2011

What made you join MM? 

I got to JMU having joined the Marching Royal Dukes. Marching band was fun in high school, but the MRDs weren’t really for me. I found MM at Student Org Night and it rekindled a passion for cars that had been burning to various degrees since I was a (very) little kid. The people I met at SON were incredibly welcoming and it finally felt like I had found “my people” – which I had.

What role did you have in the club?

Started off with no car and no wrenching abilities. Ended up diving headfirst into autocross with a ‘95 Miata, learning to work on it, and becoming MM’s President from 2009 to 2011.

What were you best known for when you were in the club?

Helping run it, most likely. I took the approach of “I want to do all these fun things with cars, and I want you all to come with me” which got a lot of people motivated. We had some really fun events. Past that, I was the tall-guy-in-little-car at 6’1” in a NA Miata.

What was your favorite memory as a student? As an alumnus? 

As a student, bringing others to the racetrack and getting involved with a world that none of us thought was attainable at the amateur level. 

As an alumni, seeing that MM is still around 20-some years later and the love of things-with-engines is not going anywhere. 

What impact did the club have on you?

I said it rekindled a burning passion… seriously, though. I went from working at the track to building what has become a full wheel-to-wheel racecar. Madison Motorsports connected me with other car nerds of all varieties, and I think I graduated with a well-rounded appreciation for the automobile and surrounding industries, something most people never consider and think of as an appliance. Past that, I met some of my closest friends who I’m still close with today. Car people are good people.

What did you drive as a student?

I drove a 1995 Mazda Miata for the most part. I also took some internship money right before my senior year started, purchased a $700 BMW 325e, and spray-painted it blue in a friend’s side yard off of Cantrell Street. It looked awful and didn’t run much better. I loved it. It lasted for the fall semester of my senior year, and I sold it before heading home for winter break.

What are you driving now? 

My “daily driver” is a 2016 Ram 1500 Sport, put in quotes because it sees just a few hundred miles per month. I’ve had my 1997 BMW M3 since 2013, and it’s only seen racetrack use that whole time, towed behind the Ram and other tow vehicles in an enclosed trailer. 

I also run a website and YouTube channel that partially deals with new car reviews. So, the Ram sits a lot as I end up driving brand-new vehicles that manufacturers send me for review, a week at a time. Some are more fun or interesting than others but the evaluations can be pretty fascinating regardless.

What are you up to nowadays? (Plug yourself!) 

Well, I went racing with NASA after a few years of HPDE and a few years of Time Trial, mostly in that E36 M3. I’ve been racing in the GTS2 class since 2017 and it’s a good crowd with solid competition. 

A friend and I started Out Motorsports in 2018, which is a community that shares motorsport- and car-related adventures of LGBT+ enthusiasts and allies. Our goal is to get more queer folks out to car and motorsport events as their whole selves, and it’s working. Check us out on YouTube or visit our website, there’s always something fun going on. 

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