Skip to Main Content

Turning an Idea Into Action: The Piston Foundation in 2020

We’d like to share the significant progress the Piston Foundation made in 2020, despite how challenging the year has been for everyone. We turned ideas into actions and built a world-class team capable of translating those actions into results. This message shares a few details on how we did that and our clear mission to preserve and promote car culture, leveraging the opportunity to unite 25 million car enthusiasts in a common purpose going forward.

By Jeff Mason

January 4, 2021

The Car Culture Problem

As Piston Foundation founder Robert Minnick looked at the state of car culture in the U.S., he saw an industry lacking enough qualified technicians, car museums and events struggling to stay afloat, and restoration shops losing skilled craftspeople faster than their knowledge can be passed to the next generation.

While car enthusiasts are some of the most charitable and generous people on the planet, Robert also saw that little was being done to unite them, on a national level, in support of the passion they share: cars and driving. Robert’s solution to this national problem is the Piston Foundation. It’s a big, audacious idea that’s bringing people together and gaining traction.

Robert Minnick, Piston Foundation CEO, with his Mini Cooper

An Idea Turned Into Action

The Piston Foundation’s mission is to preserve, educate, and promote car culture. We’re doing that by creating a national platform to unite the 25 million car enthusiasts in the U.S. and channel their collective giving strength into grassroots, car culture initiatives. Piston Foundation initiatives will provide grants, scholarships, and apprenticeship opportunities to students pursuing careers in the automotive industry and classic car restoration, and will provide direct support to car enthusiast clubs, events, and museums.

Car enthusiasts like you are the real engine of the Piston Foundation and why we will succeed. We need your support as a financial donor and a champion who will introduce our work and subsequent results to other people as passionate about cars as you are!

A World-Class Team

Car people are generous and passionate. A world-class group of advisors has agreed to donate their time and vast experience to guide our mission. Kent Bain, Bill Binnie, Frank Campanale, Bill Scheffler, Murray Smith, and Roger Werner are names many of you will recognize for their significant contributions to car culture in restoration, racing, education, and media. Their advice will be invaluable as we build our 2021 programs.

Robert has also hand-picked an exceptional executive team to execute his vision and meet the mission. Each member has brought proven skills and passion to build what has already become a highly effective team. Team members include Chief Operating Officer Jeff Mason, Chief Communications Officer Linda Zukauskas, Creative Director and Piston Ambassador Director Karl Maruyama, Social Media Producer and Piston Partner Director Fernando J Alva Mirás, and Director of Digital Marketing David Schwartz. Our team will grow in 2021

The Year Ahead

Our goal is to raise $50 million over the next five years to preserve and promote car culture. Our first initiatives will be educational grant and scholarship programs for students pursuing careers in the automotive industry and classic car restoration.

In 2020, we formalized our organization around that one great idea. We are building quick, but also building smart and ready for the next year. In 2021 we will launch two scholarship programs, the Piston Foundation scholarship fund and our first legacy scholarship fund, with the goal of awarding scholarships in January 2022.

To reach our goals, we will need your help. No one makes it to the finish line alone. As one of the 25 million U.S. car enthusiasts you are essential to the success of the Piston Foundation.

Please consider making a donation on our website. Your generous gift will remove financial barriers for the best and brightest automotive students and enable them to be the engineers, managers, mechanics, and restorers who sustain and grow car culture.

Download article »

Support skilled trade education for future auto restoration technicians.


Sign up for our monthly email with stories, updates, and volunteer opportunities.