Super Black Racing founder and owner Tony Lentino has died following a 15 month battle with cancer.
A statement from the team has confirmed that Lentino, 42, succumbed to the disease today at his home in Wellsford, New Zealand.
A long-time friend of Prodrive co-owner Rusty French, entrepreneur Lentino entered motorsport by creating Super Black for a wildcard at the 2014 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Intended to promote young Kiwi talent, Super Black moved into the championship full-time last season, fielding a single car for Andre Heimgartner.
The Prodrive-run entry has continued this year with new driver Chris Pither, who scored a breakthrough pole position for the team on Saturday at Queensland Raceway.
First diagnosed with lung cancer early last year, Lentino had been absent from the Supercars paddock for the bulk of this season as he continued his fight.
Super Black Racing’s Operations Manager, Greg Hahn paid tribute to Lentino and his legacy.
“It is with great sadness we confirm the passing of our owner and founder, Tony Lentino,” Hahn said.
“Tony had a dream and took us all on the journey with him. He always wanted for a pole and a top ten finish and this weekend he got to see it. He will be deeply missed by the team.
“He passed away surrounded by his family at his beloved home of Wellsford north of Auckland following a relatively short but spirited battle with cancer which he fought with all the energy he poured into everything he did.
“Tony was passionate about lots of things in life and while he toughed it out when he was young to establish himself as a very successful businessman, he never forgot where he came from and giving young people a chance, especially Kiwis, was central to the creation of the Super Black Racing team.
“Tony loved nothing more than taking it to the Aussies and having a Supercars team was a great way to mix his passion for his country with his love of motorsport.
“We will race on in memory of Tony but for now our thoughts and support are fully with the young family he so sadly leaves behind.”
Lentino made his fortune in computers and website domains, eventually selling his Instra Corporation for $NZ35 million ($AUD33m) late last year.
Super Black has run under its own Racing Entitlements Contract this season after Lentino purchased the formerly third Walkinshaw Racing license at the end of 2015.
The move came amid changes to the team’s business structure that Lentino said would allow the outfit to continue into the future without his involvement.
Lentino leaves behind his wife Emily and two daughters, Izabella and Sofia.