It takes a special kind of racer who posts video and data of fastest lap times, shares criticisms from professional coaches and openly shares best practices with competitors.
Mark Petronis isn’t a selfish racer, only concerned about his improvement on the track. Petronis wants to raise the competition level among all the racers in the Super Touring 2 class. After all, many of Petronis’ competitors are also his customers through AMT Motorsport, which builds performance Corvette parts.
“I get the sense from Mark that he not only wants to go fast and win, but he wants everyone to do that,” said Anthony Nick, who races with Petronis in Super Touring 2. “He revels in the competition and he’s not satisfied to win a race by 30 seconds. He’d rather win a race by thirty thousandths of a second in that he wants everyone to be better. He enjoys the thrill of the competition in the race and he recognizes that that won’t occur unless everyone gets better, not just him.”
Petronis started racing with NASA in 2015, and his outgoing personality led him to become the unofficial mayor of the Super Touring 2 class for NASA’s Northeast region. Petronis races a Corvette in a power-to-weight class that is dominated by the iconic sportscar.
Petronis is constantly recruiting new racers into the class and it’s one of the reasons he is so transparent with his own track results.
“We look at each other’s data now and people used to be a little more secretive about that,” Petronis said. “But if I do the fast lap, I’m the first guy to say hey, “Look at my data. Look at what I’m doing. Let’s get you guys up to speed.” I want the class to be competitive. I don’t want it to be 14 guys in the class and three of them running up front.”
Petronis’ approach to racing was formed 20 years ago in high school while attending an Audi Club event at Watkins Glen International with his father. The lessons Petronis learned, such as leaving space between cars, stayed with him and he used it when instructing student racers.
“Coming from a conservative group like that, I think it shaped a lot of my approach to racing,” he said. “This is not a group of dudes whose adage is you’ve got to spin if you want to win. They don’t want you spinning on track. If you spin on track, you’re going to get a black flag, and if you do it again, you’re going home.”
Nick said Petronis takes a similar do-no-harm approach when racing with his Super Touring 2 competitors.
“I would describe Mark on a racecourse as intensive, precise and always well prepared,” Nick said. “He tends to carve out every single track with almost a scalpel-like precision. He’s hyper-aware on a racetrack, what his car is doing or not doing, where he is, where other people are and how to navigate himself around a racetrack in an extremely predictable fashion.”
After graduating from the University of Miami, Petronis moved back to Clifton Park, N.Y., and in 2013 bought Advanced Manufacturing Techniques Inc. from his father Steve Petronis. The company creates precision parts and one-off products for clients in the energy, defense, transportation and medical industries.
It was around the same period Petronis stopped doing just track days and started racing. He put a roll cage into a C5 Corvette to make it a dedicated track car and stopped instructing during race weekends. “It’s rather impossible to try to instruct and have race success,” he said.
Petronis noticed while racing there were common parts breaking on the Corvettes, and it gave him the inspiration to launch AMT Motorsport in 2015.
“I’m buying all these parts and saying, ‘Wait a minute, my main business is CNC machining, we make parts for the military for medical industry, why am I buying parts made from China when I know I can make stuff better here in-house?” Petronis said. “(If) I’m going to build these parts for myself, why don’t I see if I can actually somehow establish a foothold in the market and then make them for other people to buy them. So that’s how the business side started going.”
Many of Petronis’ Super Touring 2 competitors are also his customers.
“These Corvette guys are my customers and my friends,” he said. “My customers know that this is a good part because I’ve raced on it with my car. I’ve won with it, I’ve put it through its paces and we revised it just to make it a performance part now.”
Petronis’ C5 runs a 402-cubic-inch motor from Golen Engines that is tuned down to make 380 horsepower. His car weighs 3,050 pounds, which puts the C5 Corvette at an 8:1 power ratio. Brakes are from AP Racing. Of course, Petronis’ car wouldn’t be complete without monoball control arm bushings and camber kits from AMT Motorsports.
Petronis uses a DASH2 PRO from Race Technology for data and dives into the information after a day of racing rather than between races.
“As far as really digging into the data itself, unless something amazing happens or terrible happens, I won’t pull the data during the day and look at it,” he said.
Petronis leaves the major stuff such as swapping engines and transmissions to local race shops, preferring to do the smaller nuts-and-bolts work himself.
“I honestly don’t love working on cars,” Petronis said. “I like racing cars. I like driving cars, but especially with my family at home, spending all my given hours at the shop on the weekend, putting my car together is not typically what interests me.”
Petronis will race 10 to 12 events a season, but his weekend schedule is tighter now that his 6-year-old son Anders is racing karts. His family continues to be supportive of his hobby.
“Thankfully all my racing is covered by my (business). If I had to tell my wife what I was spending on this thing, I don’t think there would be quite the support,” Petronis said with a laugh. “She doesn’t need to necessarily know, and I don’t necessarily need to tell her, so that makes things a little bit easier.”
|Hometown:||Saratoga Springs, N.Y.|
|Racing Class:||Super Touring 2|
|Sponsors:||AMT Motorsport, Finspeed, FAST Auto Racing, Autosport Fab|
|Day Job:||President at Advanced Manufacturing Techniques and AMT Motorsport|
|Favorite Food:||Mom’s spaghetti|
|Favorite TV show:||Formula 1|
|Favorite Movie:||Top Gun|
|Favorite Book:||“Speed Secrets” by Ross Bentley|
|Favorite Track:||Watkins Glen|
|Dream Racecar:||Corvette C8.R|