Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires Heads to Road America

Fall-Line Motorsports set for series debut this weekend

Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (20 June 2017) – Moving from one iconic North American race track to the next in the space of a week, this weekend will see the drivers and teams in the Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires head to Road America for Rounds 5 & 6 of the 2017 championship. 

The double-header MX-5 Cup event will be staged as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend. The 4-mile natural terrain circuit in Wisconsin is one that has long been a driver favorite and promises yet another competitive event for the closely matched MX-5 Cup field.

Pictured above and leading the championship charge will be recent engineering graduate of The Ohio State University, Patrick Gallagher, who has won three of the first four races of the year in the No. 29 McCumbee McAleer Racing entry as he targets the $200,000 Mazda Road to 24 prize that goes to the series champion. 

Now working in Chicago, he considers Road America to be his “second home” track after Mid-Ohio. While the track is as dear to the hearts of road racing fans as it gets, for the drivers in MX-5 Cup, the track can take on the feel of a NASCAR restrictor-plate race with a heavy emphasis on drafting, something that Gallagher is familiar with.

“This is a race that the guy who starts the last lap 10th can still win,” said Gallagher. “Anything can happen. Even though you know there are going to be a lot of positions changing through every lap, qualifying is important-especially the points that go with it. We usually have a big line of cars, and they are all helping everyone else go faster, so it gets wild and I think the fans are going to love it. You want to win every race you can, but for me I have to be realistic about Road America—it all comes down to that last lap. If I can come out of there with a top-five, that would be a great result for a great track.”

After the Indianapolis Motor Speedway qualifying session left 2016 series champion Nathanial “Sparky” Sparks starting both races from deep in the pack, he was able to rebound with a pair of big race performances to earn the Idemitsu “Hard Charger” Award as well as move into second in the overall points battle. That kind of fight back is the focus for Sparks heading into the Road America rounds.

“It was great to get the Idemitsu Hard Charger award, and I of course was happy to win the $1,000 for me, and $1,000 for my crew chief that goes along with it,” said Sparks. “But hopefully I can have a better qualifying at Road America and start closer to the front. There is always a big train of cars in our races there and you’ve got to be really smart with how you position the car with the draft, and also make sure you’ve got something left for the last few laps. Pat (Gallagher) has a big lead in the points, but I’ve got to just keep being consistent and hopefully that will get me another championship.” 

As the series reaches the middle stages of the season, there is no let up expected from the hungry field of racers. 

“Between the two races in Indy, there were over 500 completed passes and both events ran without caution periods even with the changing conditions, so it was another great display of racing from our drivers,” said David Cook, Manager, Mazda Motorsports Business Development. “The qualifying results were also very close, with more than 10 cars within one second of the pole time. Road America is a track that all the drivers love, and hopefully we can put on a pair of great races for the IndyCar fans this weekend.”

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Idemitsu MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich® Tires News and Notes:

Where to watch, Road America Friday, June 23 & Saturday, June 24:

Mazda will once again provide live streaming for the two races, hosted at and  Race 1 will start at 12:40 PM local (1:40 PM ET), with Race 2 set for a 10:05 am (11:05 AM ET) green flag. 

—Youth, and experience: while there is a healthy roster of rookies, there is also a lot of experience in the field. Two former series champions: Nathanial Sparks (2016), and Todd Lamb (2009) have returned for full-season campaigns. The driver with the most series experience is Ara Malkhassian, who has only missed two races from over 100 MX-5 races run since 2006.

— Key marketing and commercial partners for the series include Mazda, Idemitsu, BFGoodrichTires, Pagid Racing, and VP Racing Fuels.

— The MX-5 Cup car had its first season of competition in 2016, with the field of drivers completing 23,852.08 miles of competition. The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. 

— Idemitsu MX-5 Cup Autograph session: 10:00 AM-10:30 AM Friday in the IndyCar Fan Village.

—MX-5 Cup is the first professional race series on the Mazda Road to 24 ladder, providing the series champion with a $200,000 scholarship and rookie-of the-year winner with a $50,000 scholarship. At Mazda, driving matters, and in the MX-5 Cup that belief is absolutely true. Racing with cars that start on showroom floors with incredible parity, it is the driver that makes the difference. The cars all use the exact same SKYACTIV 2.0-liter engine as the MX-5 that you can buy at a Mazda dealer.

— 2017 is the 12th season for the MX-5 Cup series and the second for the Long Road Racing-built MX-5 Cup machine. The cars are race-prepared with the addition of safety equipment like a roll cage and over 200 motorsports-specific parts at Long Road Racing in Statesville, North Carolina. 

—The MX-5 Cup is the North American edition of the all MX-5 championship

2017 Idemitsu Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires schedule:

Rounds 1 & 2 Barber Motorsports Park April 21-23 Rounds 3 & 4 Indianapolis Motor Speedway June 16-18 Rounds 5 & 6 Road America  June 23-25 Rounds 7 & 8 Streets of Toronto  July 14-16 Rounds 9 & 10 Watkins Glen International  September 1-3 Rounds 11 & 12 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca September 22-4
Global Invitational Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca October 13-15

About: The Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires is the signature spec series for the Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24), the sports car counterpart to the Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI). On both paths, Mazda-powered champions earn a Mazda scholarship to advance their career. The MX-5 Cup champion earns a $200,000 scholarship. Find out more at