2015 Battery Tender® Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires Championships to be decided in two 45-minute sprint races this week at Road Atlanta.
This Thursday and Friday, a pair of 45-minute sprint races will determine which driver in the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender® Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires will earn a $200,000 Mazda Road to the 24 scholarship to financially secure their 2016 racing season. The Mazda Road to the 24 is the sports car side of the Mazda Motorsports Development ladder.
As the series rolls to a close in its 10th season, John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, and Patrick Gallagher, of Thornville, Ohio, are the main players in the battle for the top spot in the championship, and the Mazda-backed scholarship. However, the top seven drivers in the series, are not mathematically out of the run with two rounds worth of racing still up for grabs. If either Dean, in the No. 16 Bulb Jacket/PPG/Sick Sideways MX-5, or Gallagher, at the controls of the No. 44 Howard Concrete Pumping MX-5, falter, a slew of other talented drivers will be there to pounce.
As an added bit of intrigue, this marks the final year that the current generation of MX-5 will take to Road Atlanta in full Battery Tender® MX-5 Cup trim as part of Petit LeMans Powered by Mazda. With the planned rollout of the 2016 vehicle comes an overhaul for the Battery Tender® MX-5 Cup. Next year, the series will transform from a series run throughout North America to a world-wide competition using identically matched cars. The current iteration of the series will serve as a blueprint for others that develop throughout the rest of the world.
With details surrounding the series still forthcoming, the excitement within the paddock is growing. The conclusion of the 2015 season is just one more step toward the opening of a new chapter for Mazda Motorsports. While there is plenty of energy and excitement looking forward, the winners of this year’s championship will be the last to have their names put into the record book as a Battery Tender® Mazda MX-5 champion using the current, configuration, known as the ‘NC’ to the hardcore Miata fans..
“For the past decade, the Mazda MX-5 Cup has produced great racing and great champions,” John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports North America, said. “Our racers race hard and they race clean. I can’t wait to see two great races at Road Atlanta to see who will be earning the two Mazda scholarships. May the best racers win.”
Since his time in series, Dean has pushed himself to become a perennial front-runner for the championship title. Dean’s first year was in 2012 as he brought an immense amount of prior racing experience to bear in the Battery Tender® Mazda MX-5 Cup. From both a driving and technical development standpoint, Dean joins a long list of racers that have made the series one of the most competitive racing series in North America.
“I expect that Patrick [Gallagher] and his team will be in top form for Road Atlanta,” Dean said. “I think it will be a brutal, but clean, battle and the season will end very close in points. I will be focused on winning poles and the last two races, and look forward to winning the championship for Sick Sideways and Bulb Jacket.”
The racing resume put together by Gallagher is no less impressive than that of Dean. During his racing career Gallagher has scored two SCCA National Championships as a result of winning the Runoffs in Formula 500 and Formula Enterprises. Following his second national title win in a Mazda-powered car, Gallagher earned an invitation to be part of the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout program. After winning the competition over other eligible Mazda national winners, Gallagher’s first season in the Battery Tender® Mazda MX-5 Cup was in 2012. The superior level of competition, and scholarship opportunity for winning the season-long championship, were two things that brought him back every year.
“I am really looking forward to Road Atlanta,” Gallagher said. “It is my favorite track on the schedule and I’ve shown pace there in the past. It is also the team’s home track and there is nobody that knows that place like Jason Hoover, so that’s a big confidence booster going into the weekend.
I think everyone knows that the championship fight will be one to watch and I look forward to racing for the championship with one of my close friends. I’m just glad it’s in our backyard. I am trying to get a head start on 2016 and have been looking both at the IMSA Lites Powered by Mazda route and the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge ST class. At the moment, all focus is going toward winning this championship and having an opportunity to climb another rung on the Mazda ladder. I can’t wait to get in my Howard Concrete Pumping, Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda MX-5 this week and get to work.”
But, wait, there’s more — another $100,00 scholarship is up for grabs
A second championship, among the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge MX-5 racers, will determine a $100,000 scholarship to move up to the 2016 Battery Tender® Mazda MX-5 Cup. This championship is a four-way battle among Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey; Ben Albano, of Greenwich, Connecticut; Sam Adams, of Richfield, Wisconsin, and Nikko Reger, of Houston.
A single point separates Foley and Albano in the standings. A total of 22 markers cover those top four positions, so it is anyone’s game. With each point being vitally important, the on-track action should prove to be some of the closest we have seen throughout the season.
The first of two races for the week is schedule to start Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5:45 p.m. (EDT), with race two slated to begin Sunday, Oct. 2, at 9:00 a.m. (EDT).