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Mark Turner: Off-Road’s 2011 Person of the Year

Recipient Mark Turner
Jay Kopycinski | Writer
Posted December 1, 2011
Photographers: Vince Estep

Off-Road’s 2011 Person of the Year

Here at OFF-ROAD we’re privileged to associate with a wide range of motorsports enthusiasts, including pro racers, automotive industry leaders, talented fabricators, and many, many everyday dirt nuts like ourselves.

Recently, we decided to give recognition to one person each December as OFF-ROAD Magazine’s Person of the Year. It’s an honor given to the individual who not only contributes tremendously to the industry, but also shows himself/herself to be an all-around outstanding person.

We are pleased to bestow our inaugural award to Mark Turner, who lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area and is currently the CEO at Daystar Products International. Mark started his off-road beginnings back on the Iowa farm where he was raised as a child. As a 10-year old, he saw Ivan Stewart flying across the Mexican desert on TV, and he was soon bit by the off-road bug. Since then, he’s gone on to win races in multiple classes, help design ground-breaking truck products, and climb the corporate ladder with both vision and humility.

How did Mark become such a leader in the industry, both in the dirt and in the corner office? “There’s a saying I have lived my life by,” Mark said, “‘The only thing worse than fear is regret’.”

Farm-Raised Racer

Like many farm boys, Mark was adept at handling tools and a welder at a young age. He found a way to cannibalize an engine off a roto-tiller, some hinges off the barn, and some other odds and ends to build his first motorized creation. He was soon rumbling up and down some gravel and dirt byways and the seed was forever planted.

Mark has always owned trucks and started doing some racing in the mid ’90s when his wife, Sue, bought him a Mazda minitruck. But when he ran the first time, he made it about 3 miles before forward progress ceased. Mark decided he simply had to learn more and work harder. Within a year, he was starting to win a few races, including the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge in the stock mini class. Mazda took notice and hired Mark to race for them in about 1999.

From there, Mark opened an off-road shop in Colorado for a couple of years until moving to Tennessee to work in product development for Rough Country Suspension, where he helped revive its product lines and grow the company substantially. Next, he was enticed to work for Daystar as vice president of product development. Now, he’s CEO for the supplier, which produces polyurethane suspension components and precision injection-molded plastic parts for many OE and aftermarket applications.

Despite the title, Mark doesn’t stray far from innovating new products. Finding ways to bring them to market remains a steadfast passion of his. He believes in working hard and improving products, to the betterment of our off-road sport.

Wherever we asked in the off-road community, people spoke only highly of Mark’s character. The comments were usually indicative of his positive traits, such as over-achiever, integrity, and always enthusiastic.

Likewise, he’s definitely made an impression on his peers. Coworkers valued him as a mentor, teaching them the ways of the off-road industry while explaining both the hows and whys of doing things.

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