Events in California and Georgia highlight a weekend of club racing for Mazda racers
Two SCCA Majors races this weekend on opposite sides of the country are attracting Mazda racers as they pursue a Conference championship and an invite to the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. The fourth Majors event in the Southeastern Conference will be hosted by Atlanta Region SCCA at Road Atlanta, and the second in the Western Conference will be hosted by Cal Club Region at the high desert racetrack of Willow Springs International Raceway.
March Atlanta Majors
As with most events in the Southeast, the March Atlanta U.S. Majors Tour at Road Atlanta is attracting a big contingent of Spec Miatas. While some of the Florida racers, many of who already have three Majors weekends in the books, aren’t towing up to the scenic Georgia track, it’s still bringing in a stellar field, including 2015 National Champion Jonathan Goring; Danny Steyn, fresh off winning his first SM race as a 60-year-old at NOLA two weeks prior; Michael Carter; and Blake Clements.
In GT-3, Jeff Dernehl won’t have the “test session” in his RX-7 that he had at NOLA and Robert Garrison will be there with a Miata in both GT-3 and F Production, where he’ll have a tough contest against Michael Kamalian.
STU will have some interesting Mazda entries. T.O. Johnson will bring out his 2004 RX-8 for the first time in 2018. However, it’s Raymond Philibert and his 1999 Miata that have had the best results for a Mazda in the Southeast, with a double win at Homestead and a pair of seconds at NOLA. In the early entries, Touring 4 is an all-NC MX-5 field, with Kevin Fryer and Tim Wise, who is commuting from the West Coast this season, going head to head.
As with other Southeast Conference races this season, Mazda will have full support on site courtesy of Mazda’s parts truck, plus Mazda will host a Saturday lunchtime barbecue. Mazda’s Josh Smith, Steve Strickland and David Cook will also be on hand to assist racers.
Willow Springs Majors
The second U.S. Majors Tour event in SCCA’s Western Conference, which will be hosted by Cal Club, will also take place March 17-18. The series moves from the Fontana Roval to the venerable Willow Springs International Raceway in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles. Predicted cool temperatures and windy conditions could make things interesting for racers.
At Auto Club Speedway, no one could touch Brandon Aleckson in Formula Enterprises. While the fast sweepers of Willow Springs contrast with Auto Club’s tight infield turns, there’s nothing to suggest Aleckson won’t continue his winning ways. In Prototype 2, David Ferguson will be returning with his fast Mazda MZR-powered Van Diemen in which he took double victories in Fontana.
E Production has a good field entered for Willow Springs, with plenty of Mazdas in the mix. Philip Royle will be looking to improve on a pair of seconds during his last outing in his second-generation RX-7, but he’ll be pushed by fellow RX-7 racers Kale Swifts and Brandon Droese. Glenn McCready, with whom Royle had a fantastic race at Buttonwillow last season, will be bringing his 2006 MX-5 to the party. Taz Harvey is venturing out on his second outing with the GTL MX-5 he bought from Michael Kamalian, in which he had a great first event with two wins.
Mark Drennan will be making his first start of the season in Spec Miata as he looks toward the Runoffs at his home track of Sonoma Raceway. Clement Lee, Austin Newmark. Justin Hall and Tristan Littlehale will make him work for the win, though.