Who is Mike Kojima?
By Wes Dumalski
Photos as credited
I am likely not qualified to write this piece on one of the major brains behind MotoIQ. There are many people who write for this very site that have spent much more time around his person and in his brain than I have over the past 12 years… But at this year's SEMA show I had a chance to get to know Mike in ways I had not previously talked to him… As a fellow Human… Mike is well known for his accomplishments within the motorsports community and his name is highly recognizable… But there is more to him than that and if you care to find out read on about who the fuck Mike Kojima is exactly…
|Old school pic of Mike. It must be 93/94 as you can see Project Pathfinder in the background….|
Mike's ancestors came to the shores of America somewhere in the 1890's and some 71 years later Mike Kojima was born on December 18th of 1961 in Inglewood California (yeah that one foo). Mike grew up the son of an aerospace engineer who was working during the golden age of aviation. With that sort of influence it is no wonder why his path towards engineering was cut from a very early age. If you ask Mike when he became interested in cars he will tell you “At birth…. Cars and Airplanes, don't all boy's have an interest in them?” Mike spent a lot of time around high tech airplanes during his youth and after graduating from Gardena High school in 1980 it seemed certain he would follow in his father's footsteps in the aerospace industry.
|Mike looks like one of the Option Magazine editors.|
Mike began college shortly after high school at California State Long Beach, he was about half way through his degree when something happened that perhaps not even Mike can quantify or rationalize…. A friend of Mike's mentioned a part time job position available at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) around 1983. This was a departure from the aerospace industry but needing a job Mike began humbly by working for them around the shop and answering the phones. I guess the answering the phone part is rather funny if you have ever talked to Mike in person… This simple recommendation from a friend would change Mike's future. Mike swept his way through different roles at TRD and after graduating with a B.S. became the Engineer who was responsible for their grassroots motor sports efforts as well as their SCCA programs and street parts. It was also during his time at TRD. that he wrote his first paying freelance article of sorts… TRD had a collaboration project with Grassroots Motorsports Magazine in the mid 80's and that is where his freelance career began.
Somewhere in the horrible fashion decade that was the 1980s Mike met his wife Sharon. (No dumbass they weren't married when they met…. the wording is simply for the sake of editorial efficiency…) I find their meeting place rather comical given that while Mike hails from Inglewood (foo) he has NEVER struck me as “hood” in any way. He has been known to pull it off from time to time though and apparently it worked on Sharon as they met at a house party (not quite sure if Kid n PLay were at that one)… As their relationship continued Mike left TRD for a quality engineer position at Nissan North America. While at Nissan Mike obtained his designation of Certified Quality Engineer and applied those credentials and his mind to the Infiniti G20 (P10 chassis) as well as service parts for several years. In 1993 Mike and Sharon married amidst Mike's budding career as a freelance journalist and engineer.
|Our own Project 200SX SE-R was the first project car that Mike documented for Sport Compact Car.|