How to Evolve in Motorsport

“I have been racing for 13 years and have always selected a Mazda for competition,” explained Matt Reynolds, multi-time champion.  “The contingencies, support, and reliability of a Mazda are too good to pass up.”

Reynolds started in Spec Miata, which he stated was extremely intimidating his first time on the track. (Knowing Matt, however, we doubt he has ever been intimidated.)  He was a mid-packer at best his first of couple years competing, but was hooked. He began to run with some of the best in the SCCA Southwest and Midwest divisions (e.g., John Phillips, Blake Clements, Jim Drago, Roger Bryan, and Charlie James).  “I believe Spec Miata provides an incredible platform with deep talent fields that accelerates driver development, Reynolds,” stated.  “If you can run at the front consistently in Spec Miata, you will succeed in other classes.”

“Throughout the years,” Reynolds commented, “I realized I was a decent qualifier.” (We know Matt to be a humble guy.) Over the years, I’ve focused on perfecting race craft, achieving consistency, and mastering strategy and smooth driving. (We know this to have paid off).  You always hear of drivers ‘falling off’ at the end of the race, but I believe that is where I can do my best work in the car. Consistent laps throughout can make up for a couple fast laps at the beginning.  The first laps are important, but they aren’t everything.  Patience can be the key to where you stand on the podium at the end of the day.”

With the lessons we have all learned from Mr. Reynolds, we decided to catch up with him again in July to see how the 2016 season has gone.

“This season has gone fairly well so far,” commented Reynolds.  “I have had a tough time in Spec Miata, but was able to win the Mid-States Majors Conference Championship in E Production.  I have had consistent finishes in E Production while Chris Campbell and Jesse Prather have continued to improve the car for me.  I’m in a position to compete in the Runoffs in both Spec Miata and E Production, which is very exciting.

“I was able to get some valuable track time at Mid-Ohio in preparation for the Runoffs, and feel that the cars will be competitive there.  This track is a blast to drive and is challenging with some technical characteristics.

“I will debut a newly built Vintage Connection, Mazda Motorsports, G-LOC Brakes, Hoosier Racing Tire Spec Miata for the Runoffs as our #74ii car was officially retired with over 16,000 race miles, 100+ races, and 9 seasons on it.  This is a huge testament to how reliable and long lasting Mazdas truly are.  I can’t wait to take these Mazdas to the Runoffs to compete for a national championship title.”

We cannot either.

For some background on his #74ii:
> Pre-owned 1999 silver Mazda Miata, purchased from a San Antonio dealer in November 2006 with  137,006 miles.
> The build immediately began to convert this street car to a Spec Miata (SM).

> From the time that the build was completed by Chris Campbell and Ed Williams  in August 2007, 74ii and Matt Reynolds began the racing journey that ultimately concluded for 74ii with 153,136 miles on the clock.

> A remarkable 16,130 miles were covered completely on the track.
> It possibly has accumulated more racing miles and total wins than any Spec Miata out there.
Total number of SM Races:              108
Podiums:                                            64 (59%)
Wins:                                                  40 (37%)
Fastest race laps:                             17 (16%)
E Production Races as stand in:     4
Wins:                                                  1
Podiums:                                            4
Southwest  Division Champ:            2x
Mid-States Majors Champ:               2x
National Points Champ:                   1x

Why did Matt Reynolds and his team take a crack at another class – E Production – three years ago? 
“We chose this class for a few reasons,” Reynolds explained. “It was the fastest production class and we had a few different models of Mazda’s we could choose from.  The natural choice for us was a 1999 Mazda Miata due to our knowledge from running Spec Miata.  Often I am asked, ‘How hard is it to switch back and forth between the two?’ Despite the speed difference, it is actually not hard. I view the E Production Miata as just a Spec Miata on steroids, and drive them very similarly.”

The 2015 season had its ups and downs, though for most racers, they would just be considered ups.  He finished 1st in the SCCA U.S. Majors Tour SafeRacer E Production National Points Standings for the third year in a row and won the Mid-States Majors Conference in both E Production and Spec Miata. Given the success throughout the season, they were heading into the SCCA Runoffs presented by Garmin as the favorite.  Reynolds shared his let down as the result from the Runoffs: “Daytona turned out to be favorable to the larger displacements motors.  It was severely disappointing to work hard all year and be the victim to this issue.” Despite this, however, the SCCA nominated him and only one other to compete in the 2015 Mazda Road to 24 Shootout. Reynolds is known in the sport as the total package – talent on and off track.

What’s Reynolds’ ultimate goal?
“Every year, it’s to win the Runoffs in both classes; but, this is easier said than done.  Winning a one-race championship takes all the talent, focus, and preparation in the world plus some luck. The Runoffs race is the most difficult race you will ever participate in, which keeps us all coming back for more.” For those who are betting men or women (which we cannot technically condone on this website, however – or any website), you don’t have to look much farther than Matt Reynolds.