Words & pictures by Alexandra "Xan" Oakley, PCRI Educational Writer

This year, Scottsdale celebrated it’s 3rd Annual Grand Prix. You may remember that the prostate cancer car won the race in last years Grand Prix! So, PCRI was proud to partner again with Fabio Almeida, MD, a member of our board of directors, as he also represented his practice Phoenix Molecular Imaging. This year, however, we had another partner join us our team: John Zayac with IBG Fox Fin. 

John Zayac is the founder and managing partner of IBG Fox Fin, an award-winning leader in business sales and acquisitions of privately held middle-market companies. He bought the prostate cancer car at the Russo & Steele Auction in January of 2017. As John said, “We looked at it as a neat opportunity to brand our company, IBG Fox Fin. We’ve completed over 1100 transactions and have five offices across the country. We thought it would be fun to brand IBG and support an important cause.” And with that, they bought the car. As soon as the auction was over, the owners of Vintage Kart Co., the company that made the prostate cancer car, put John behind the wheel and let him go for a spin around the parking lot. When asked what he thought the first time he drove it, John said, “You’re regressing back to childhood, it’s so much fun!”

One of the members of last years driving team left, leaving the perfect spot for John. The preparation isn’t easy, and John even commented, “I thought it was just for fun, but I realized it was serious stuff.” John never raced in a Grand Prix before, although he’s been racing in national air championships for about 16 years. And although he was nervous about getting on the course, he looked like a professional the moment he got behind the wheel. 

To say the Grand Prix is competitive is putting it lightly, and although we raised awareness for prostate cancer by taking the #1 spot last year, we wanted to be in the top 3 again. Let’s be honest, we wanted to win again! The team put an immense amount of time and energy into training for the race, and you could see it in how well they drove and handled the car on the course. John started the driving off for the first heat of the race, and he was flying by everyone. For someone who had only just learned how to drive a kart, he looked like he had done it for years. 

The race was filled with a lot of excitement and a few mishaps (none involving our team.) There were several accidents during the event, and one car even flipped (don’t worry, everyone was okay other than one broken thumb.) This caused a few delays, and by the end of the 3rd heat, we realized it was already time for the race to end. Sure enough, the city called it, and the race ended with three heats instead of the typical 4. We anxiously walked to the announcer's stand to see if we placed. The winning team was called, and it wasn’t us. We were disappointed but we knew we’d done well, we had to be in the top three. Sure enough, we were the next team called. We placed second! We didn’t get the number one spot, but we were still up there at the top, raising awareness for the cause we dedicate ourselves to. 

The 2017 Grand Prix was an amazing experience. Not only is it a fun event for all to enjoy, but it’s an incredible way to partner with others and advocate for prostate cancer. As John put it, “The car promotes IBG and supports prostate cancer education. I still consider it Dr. Almeida’s car, we are partners in crime. Dr. Almeida uses it as a vehicle to create conversation. It’s silly because with a simple blood test you can know if there is something you should be concerned about. Men are lousy patients; they’re chicken. They are afraid to communicate. I think people have to be more educated about the facts. It’s like 10 to 1 when it comes to funding for breast cancer and prostate cancer. Early detection of any cancer is critical to successful remediation.” 

PCRI is incredibly grateful to Dr. Almeida, John Zayac, and the racing team for the incredible work they’ve done with the prostate cancer car. And we congratulate the team for taking home second place! Once again, their incredible driving and support of the PCRI’s mission has led to a greater awareness for men and the prostate cancer community!