The Biggest Spec Miata Prize Yet

The title race at the 2018 NASA Championships could exceed $130,000 in prize money

Last December, NASA Pro Racing and Toyo Tires announced the biggest prize package for a Spec Miata championship race in history – and this September at the NASA Championships at Circuit of the Americas, one Spec Miata racer has the opportunity to walk away with as much as $80,000. 

“This was sort of the brainchild of Marc Sanzenbacher, the motorsports manager for Toyo Tires,” says NASA Communications Director Brett Becker. “We got to 80 entries very quickly, and we’re in the 90s now. The number of cars we have registered will play a role in how we structure the race itself. 

“The limit for the number of cars on track at COTA is 85, so ideally we’d get 135 cars and you would have 85 in one group and then you would have this terrific second group because Toyo is offering prizes for the hard charger in each group as well as random prizes in each group,” Becker explains.

The top payout with the number of entries so far is $75,000 to the winner, which goes up to $80,000 with 115 entries. Second place will pay up to $15,000, and the payouts go down to fifth place in both the main and the second group. There will also be $2,500 hard charger awards in each group and five random draw awards of $1,000. Winning the Group B race will be worth $4,000. It all amounts to a possible total payout of more than $130,000.

With prizes like these on the line, the entry list reads like a who’s who of Spec Miata racers. Alex Bolanos, Todd Buras, Marc Cefalo, Blake Clements, Jason Connole, Jim Drago, Chris Haldeman, Austin Newmark, Preston Pardus and Danny Steyn are among those registered so far.

“It’s going to be a dogfight at the front,” says Becker. “When you look at the names and past championships in NASA and SCCA, everybody who’s anybody in SM is going to be there. It should be one of the greatest races to watch.”

This is the first year in many that NASA has had a unified championship event, having chosen to have both Eastern States and Western States championships for the past few years. With this event, however, it made sense to have one championship in a central location, and Circuit of the Americas in Austin is about as central as it gets. 

Spec Miata won’t be the only race, however, and there will be Mazda competitors contesting several Super Touring classes and in the Time Trials event. But Spec Miata will certainly be the of the races you won’t want to miss.

“Spec Miata is usually the most fun to watch,” agrees Becker. “But this event, with what’s up for grabs, who’s coming, the track … ‘epic’ is the word.”