AluMMni Spotlight: Jason Ray

Please meet Jason Ray! Jason owns the record for the most stolen cars in MM and is a very friendly Alumni!

What’s your name?

Jason Ray

When were you in MM?

2002-2005 as a student

What made you join MM? 

My interest in modding cars had me initially interested, then the focus of track experience got me hooked.

What role did you have in the club?

Just a member (So modest!)

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

The guy with the red Si (EM1) that enjoyed the VTEC crack pipe.

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

Photo shoots and parties with members/roommates as a student. Working as a corner flagger for events was also amazing. HPDE events with members at summit as an alumni since I couldn’t really afford to as a student.

What impact did the club have on you?

Long lasting friendships that have spanned multiple hobbies, not just cars/motorsports. MM also helped guide me into ‘proper’ modifications to my vehicles that really make a positive impact on how the vehicles drive/operate.

What did you drive as a student?

1999 Honda Civic Si in Milano Red

What are you driving now? 

2019 Volkswagen Golf R in Tornado Red

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

I initially earned my motorcycle racing license, but discovered road cycling while trying to increase fitness for motorcycle racing. I began racing road bicycles and was a fairly successful road racer (made it to category 3 road based on wins and positions). Now I ride my road bike a lot, spend time with my family (wife, daughter, and dog), and still enjoy the car meets and watching racing. Cars, bikes, video games, and family. That’s pretty much my life.

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AluMMni Spotlight: Kaan Canturk

This month, we are featuring one of the OG MMers. If you’ve been to a Turducken event with MM or been to the track with us, you have probably seen him. He is one of our longest tenured members and was a gracious host of Turducken for many years. Please meet Kaan Canturk!

What’s your name?

Kaan Canturk

When were you in MM?

From the genesis… many trips around the sun. Once you are in, you never get to leave… at least thats how I take it.

What made you join MM? 

I was looking to start a car club on the blue stone side of campus and one day while working as a campus cadet (dont hate me) I found a flier for Madison Motorsports on the “new” ISAT side of campus. They were much farther along the club establishment process… they weren’t serial killers or anything… and the rest is history.

What role did you have in the club?

I never had an official “role” in the club… I was “the member”… I might be the only OG that didn’t hold office.

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

The safe, non incriminating answer… Widow Makers (I’m pretty sure RJ named them)… It was Madison Motorsports required track side food. Folks would be so jazzed and hyped and bouncing around with adrenaline from coming off track, and they wouldn’t eat or drink all day. SO… I wrapped kielbasa in bacon, grilled it… they would eat it, drink water, and sit down (maybe not in that order). Basically I was known for feeding people. The Widow Maker evolved over some Turducken and summer picnic gatherings… into a beer battered, cheese injected, bacon wrapped kielbasa. Maybe I’ll have to bring some OG Widow Makers out to the track again in 2021…

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

Again the safe, non incriminating answer as a student is… the Autox we hosted on campus. It was completely a bad idea, but we didn’t know any better… JMU didn’t know any better either… and someone approved it. No one died, no one wrecked, no one took out a light pole or ran into the Convocation Center… it was a huge “win” for Madison Motorsports. As an alumnus… it was 100% passing competition school. Sure its not a big deal, people do it every year… but Madison Motorsports started me down this path when we began working for NASA Mid Atlantic (in 2000? 2001ish?) and I fell in love with the Honda Challenge race class. RJ raced in it, Gerald raced in it… I wanted to race in it too… and finally in 2019 I was able to make that dream a reality.

What impact did the club have on you?

Madison Motorsports really allowed a very diverse group of folks to get together around a shared passion… and its allowed me to have so many great friendships. I stayed engaged with folks through the forums and popped up in person to campus events from time to time… and my friendships span many generations of Madison Motorsports.

What did you drive as a student?

1983 VW Scirocco GTI Karmann

What are you driving now? 

Work… because that’s what old people do. Oh yeah, we also fix our houses and stuff too. Outside of that… obviously I’m always fixing the broken race car. When I’m not in the garage I’m out hiking and biking around the Shenandoah Valley. I recently did the 5 peaks in Virginia over 5k feet challenge… except I mapped it out to do all 8 peaks over 5k feet… in 2 days. I don’t have a side hustle like some folks… but I do volunteer with a group home that houses adults with physical and mental limitations. I do feel its important to give back to your community, and this organization really spoke to me… so if you like yard work, house painting, etc. hit me up… we always have projects to do!

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

Sell your Miatas, BMWs, and other garbage and come race Honda Challenge.

Editor’s Note: While I appreciate the attempt to seduce me to the dark side, Kaan, I’ll have to decline.

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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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