Through The Esses - Mike Fonte's Fountain Flows With Passion
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Mike Fonte and one of the Fountain Motorsports BMWs
03/06/07 © Andrew S. Hartwell

Passion: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept

When we talk to people in sportscar racing one common thread we find time and again is that the people who commit to the sport do so because they have an uninhibited passion for it. When the bookkeeping is finished, they may find they lost money running a car or a team, or they may be one of the few fortunate spirits who broke even in the end. Whatever the outcome, it seems the passion to participate is what draws them in and who can deny that passion can sometimes overwhelm ones senses?

In the case of Mike Fonte (pronounced fon-tay) the owner of Fountain Motorsports, (In Italian, Fonte means fountain, and that is why we use the name Fountain Motorsports for our team.) passion is without question the force that compelled him to field three BMW race cars in the ST Class of the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series this season. And if the accounting methodology suggests that there is a crazy person in charge of the firm, so be it. For this is one person crazy about cars and the sport of road racing.

Fonte owns several businesses in the Rochester area of upstate New York. His motorsports operation is located in Ontario, a nearby small town of about 10,000 people, with Lake Ontario at its northern edge. Ontario is also in what is called the snow belt'. The people living in this northernmost part of the state are used to being inundated with huge snowfalls every winter. But the natives are accustomed to the climate and life goes on no matter how much snow may end up falling.

In Ontario we don't have earthquakes or tornados or hurricanes or floods, but we do get snow; lots of snow. But we have adapted.

Amidst the snow drifts, Fonte's life, with his wife Elisabeth, and three children, Michael (10), Emily (4) and Domenico (7 months) goes on with his time split amongst three full time businesses and, now, one full-time race team.

In 2006, we hadn't planned on a full season because I have several businesses that I run and we knew there wouldn't be enough time to run the whole season. I own a medical supply business , Fonte Surgical Supply, Inc., which provides products like hospital beds, wheelchairs, lifts and ramps,etc. and The Uniform Shop which carries corporate apparel, medical uniforms, scrubs and does custom embroidery and screen printing. Plus, when we learned we were going to be parents again for the third time it was just out of the question to go racing a full season.

Fonte filled us in on his background within the medical field.

My father was a pharmacist and he opened his store in the Rochester area in 1960. All of us in the family worked there for years. Dad was well known in the area and as the years passed we changed from a corner drug store and began servicing nursing homes, county facilities, adult homes and group homes. We serviced 90% of the nursing homes in Rochester and the surrounding areas. Before my dad retired I decided to start a business with him to do something other than pharmacy. We opened up Fonte Surgical Supply, Inc. Your Health Care Solutions' in 1992. Today we have 34 people working between the two businesses.

Perhaps crazy is the wrong word to describe someone who has built successful businesses to a point that allows him to enjoy a hobby that is worlds apart from more mundane (Read: cheaper) pursuits. But that word passion certainly applies in his case.

I just love cars. I had a buddy coax me into running my Shelby in a Rochester Mustang-Shelby club event at Watkins Glen. I just fell in love with racing in general so I purchased a race prepared 1986 Mustang that the owner used to race in EMRA (Eastern Motor Racing Association) events before he moved up to Motorola Cup. Over the next couple of years I crewed for him at several races and enjoyed the experience.

I ran the Mustang for several years at track events and