The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) has announced that next year, instead of a single National Championship event, it will have a NASA Eastern States Championship at Road Atlanta in August and a Western States Championship at Sonoma Raceway in November. In addition, Mazda will offer champions from those two events the chance to compete in the Mazda Race of NASA Champions, with the winner declared NASA Grand Champion.
The Mazda Race of NASA Champions will take place after the Eastern and Western States Championships in identically prepared MX-5 racecars on a professional race weekend. The NASA Grand Champion will automatically be invited to the Mazda Club Racer Shootout, where he or she will have the chance to compete for the scholarship valued at more than $75,000 to compete in the following year’s Mazda MX-5 Cup series.
“Without a doubt, grassroots racing is the absolute foundation of our whole entire strategy,” says John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations. “We have strong partnerships with the two largest grassroots road racing organizations in the U.S. In particular with NASA, we’ve had partnerships in a variety of things. We’ve broadcast the Spec Miata National Championship race on TV, we’ve supported the television coverage of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. This announcement is really the start of Mazda Motorsports better organizing our partnership with NASA.”
NASA racers who win a championship in a Mazda vehicle will still have the chance to compete in the Mazda Club Racer Shootout, where champions from a variety of grassroots racing can vie for the professional racing opportunity, whether they win the Mazda Race of NASA Champions or not, just as they do now. This new partnership, though, allows champions from every NASA class a shot at the MX-5 Cup scholarship.
“Mazda is an amazing partner and a company that identifies racing as an important part of their brand,” says Ryan Flaherty, NASA National Chairman. “NASA and Mazda are both very focused on creating new opportunities in motorsports and this program could help identify and develop the next great driver in our sport. Never before has a system been put into place to provide a NASA competitor with such an amazing opportunity to advance their racing career and jump right into a pro racing environment with such little investment outside of their normal racing activities. We look forward to seeing a current or future NASA competitor use this new opportunity to catapult themselves into the world of professional racing.”
Details of the program are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. Look for more announcements regarding the Mazda Race of NASA Champions soon.
“NASA offers top-flight competition across a wide variety of classes and brands,” says Doonan. “Mazda is excited about this new program where their champions will have a chance to race head-to-head in Mazda MX-5s to crown a single champion. We look forward to working out the details with NASA in the weeks ahead.”