What’s With the Hammer and Sickle?
 June 14, 2021| 
  • Series News
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The Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires is known for its epic battles for the lead and photo finishes, but there is one car that gets just as much attention despite never winning a race, being on the podium or even in the top five. Everyone wants to know ‘what’s the deal with the Soviet Union car?’

 

That car adorned with the hammer and sickle is the No. 55 McCumbee McAleer Motorsports entry driven by Moisey Uretsky. If you couldn’t tell by his name, he was born in what was the city of Sverdlovsk during the existence of the U.S.S.R., but is now Yekaterinburg, Russia. Uretsky calls it “the biggest city in Russia no one has ever heard of.”

 

He doesn’t remember much of growing up in Yekaterinburg because when he was four, his family moved to Brooklyn.

 

MidO_051621-1398“We left with nothing and just showed up,” Uretsky said. “The Soviet Union back then, making a profit was illegal, so there really wasn’t anything to bring with us. My dad started working as a taxi driver and my mom became a bookkeeper at a hardware store.”

 

Uretsky was born a car lover and when he had saved up enough money, he bought himself a BMW. There was a big problem though – he was about to lose his job.

 

“The company I was working for was about to close down, so naturally I bought a car,” he laughed. “I spent more money on insurance than I did on the monthly payment for the car itself.”

 

That car quickly changed the trajectory of Uretsky’s life. In his desperation to keep the car, he and his brother found a way to start their own company with the skills and some clients from the defunct business. The revenue paid for the car and then some.

 

“Without the car, there would have been no urgency to figure out this problem,” Uretsky said. “I think getting over extended is a good idea because constraints create creativity – necessity is the mother of invention – and that’s how we got started.”

 

What was getting started was a cloud computing company called Digital Ocean, which recently went public on the New York Stock Exchange (DOCN). The Uretsky brothers are major shareholders, but no longer involved in the day-to-day business.

 

StPete_042421-4624A successful business afforded Uretsky the opportunity to take his love of cars to new levels. First it was autocross, then track days in his Porsche 911 Turbo.

 

“I learned rather quickly that I needed to get a slower car,” Uretsky explained. “My first time at Watkins Glen I got passed by a Mini Cooper and said ‘that is a much slower car and he’s passing me, so I better learn something.’ The right way to do it would have been to get a Mazda, but I didn’t. I got a Lotus Exige. It was slower, but definitely the wrong car to learn on.”

 

His trial and error with the wrong race cars continued. When it came time to go club racing, Uretsky admits he should have gone with Spec Miata.

 

Fate intervened when Uretsky was introduced to Justin Piscitell for driver coaching. His driving skills improved much quicker after getting paired with the right teacher. It was time to try some pro racing.

 

Finally going with the car he should have started with he chose a Mazda MX-5 and started racing in the TCA class in Pirelli World Challenge.  About this time, Mazda announced its year-end MX-5 Cup shootout for $50,000 would be at Sebring International Raceway; Moisey’s home track (he now lives in Miami). He gave it a shot and fell in love.

 

MidO_051421-0198“There’s no letting up,” he said. “You could be in 15th place and fighting just as hard as you would be for a podium. It was great that it was at a track that I was super familiar with so I could focus on the driving and the different drivers instead of worrying where the track is.”

 

Uretsky started his MX-5 Cup journey in earnest in 2019 and believes he will continue for many more seasons, even if a race win isn’t in the cards for him.

 

“MX-5 Cup is fantastic because it’s high intensity racing, there are no bad drivers, everybody is ultra-competitive, all the cars are the same and honestly, just the car itself is a challenge to drive,” he said. “There’s a lot of wheeling and dealing and catching the car and sliding. I feel like if you can do that well in these cars, you can drive the high-horsepower, high-downforce cars. Sure, you want to drive faster things, but ultimately I want to stick with this until I feel satisfied.”

 

This leads us back to the original question: what’s with the hammer and sickle on his car?

 

“For me, it wasn’t a statement of ‘pro-Russia,’ which is what some people interpret it as,” Uretsky said. “It’s really an homage to my grandparents who all fought in World War II. If they had not fought in World War II, if the Soviet Union had not fought in World War II, the world would be a different place. For me, it’s about honoring those who fought for me just to be alive at all.”

 

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Moisey has had his share of hecklers for running a symbol of what pop culture has dictated as America’s main antagonist, but he’s fine with that. He hopes that instead of jeers, people will just ask him about it.

 

“I think it’s a good way to get people more inquisitive about the back story of everything and not jump to conclusions,” he said. “If you don’t like something say ‘I don’t like that, tell me more about why that’s on your car,’ and I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you my grandparents fought in a war where they sacrificed a tremendous amount and I thought it was the right thing for them to do and then that can open a different conversation. I hope that’s something, post-2020, that we’ll be better at, saying ‘hey let’s talk about that, tell me what perspective I’m missing.’”

 

Uretsky’s No. 55 has become a little less innocuous this season, however, since it now features a black bull. The animal comes from a nickname he and Piscitell gave to Uretsky’s first MX-5 Cup car, which he described as like riding a bull. He’s upgraded to a new car since that one but liked the graphic enough to keep it.

 

Moisey’s results keep improving. He recently scored his first top-10 finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. While the uptick in result was a welcome one, what’s most important to Uretsky is that he feels challenged, and with MX-5 Cup racing, that could be eternal.

 

“Racing is an interesting sport because there’s the ultimate lap time that no one can actually do, it’s really a series of mistakes,” Uretsky said. “You can be at 99.9 percent of the ultimate lap time, but you’ll never be at 100. Even when you win, you’re still looking at all the little mistakes so you can improve. I think that’s a good way to approach life: try to do better than the last time.”

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