Idemitsu Charges MX-5 Cup

More than just a title sponsor, the company is actively involved in the MX-5 Cup paddock

Since 2015, Idemitsu has been the title sponsor of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires. But this sponsor relationship goes way beyond delivering a check and putting the company’s name in front of the series, explains Mazda Motorsports’ Operations Manager Kyle Kimball.

“As people who have spent any time in this sport know, the people are truly what make the difference,” says Kimball. “The time, the human capital, the money … all that is great. But having good people surround you can make or break a venture in motorsports. That is the difference with our partnership with Idemitsu. Having the Prelec family and the Dyon family at almost every single race, supporting what we’re doing, finding new business ventures that we can all look into – it is a true joy to go to the race track with them and move this partnership forward.”

It helps that Idemitsu is a product that racers know and use. For cars that spend a lot of time sitting around, battery charging and maintenance is critical. Idemitsu products are a staple in the MX-5 Cup paddock, and many other racing paddocks. 

“The biggest benefit is you’ve got the industry standard when it comes to chargers,” Kimball explains. “Idemitsu is not only the title sponsor of the series, but when you use their product, as many of our competitors do, they know that they are putting the industry standard to the car. There are no questions about it. They also know that if they have a need, a desire, or even a product idea, they can find Idemitsu’s® Mike Prelec or Evin Dyon in the paddock – those guys are so generous with their time. Mike is a racer himself in an MX-5, and they love the sport and are willing to give any amount of time to the racers and the team owners in the MX-5 Cup paddock.”

It’s not just the drivers and owners that benefit, though. Because Prelec, the CEO of Idemitsu, races, he knows that there are a lot of people that make racing happen that aren’t car owners or drivers – hence the Idemitsu Hard Charger award. Pun aside, the award goes to the team whose car improves the most positions during the race; this award does not go, as these things usually work, to the driver.

“One of the first conversations we had with Idemitsu was they had a desire to recognize those people that don’t always get all the glory, like the team owners and drivers,” says Kimball. “They wanted to recognize the mechanics and engineers that work behind the scenes to make the magic happen, to make the cars and the drivers go fast. One of the first ideas that we had was to create the Idemitsu Hard Charger Award, which gives a monetary prize to the lead mechanic of the driver who moved up the most positions during green flag running. It’s now $1,000. 

“While there are some people that may look at $1,000 as not a lot of money, it’s the recognition that means the most to the mechanics and the engineers that win the award. And it speaks to the people that the Prelec and Dyon families are – it was very important for them to have their name on the Hard Charger Award and recognize those behind the scenes.”

The MX-5 Cup just wrapped up its 13th season in crowning Nikko Reger champion at Monticello Motor Club, its fifth with Idemitsu as the title sponsor.

2018 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Hard Charger Winners

Circuit of The Americas
Round 1 Eric Curran Crew Chief – Clifton Black
Round 2 Robert Noaker Crew Chief – Chaz Dawson

Barber Motorsports Park
Round 3 Andrew Pinkerton Crew Chief – Marty Holm
Round 4 Nikko Reger Crew Chief – Kevin Steely

Road America
Round 5 Todd Lamb Crew Chief – Chris Smith
Round 6 Keith Jensen Crew Chief – Kevin Steely

Round 7 Brian Henderson Crew Chief – Brian Zeller
Round 8 Brian Henderson Crew Chief – Brian Zeller

Portland International Raceway
Round 9 Racer Kashima Crew Chief – Dean Copeland
Round 10 Brian Ortiz Crew Chief – Dean Copeland

Monticello Motorsports Club
Round 11 Michael Dinan Crew Chief – Marc Cefalo
Round 12 Michael Dinan Crew Chief – Marc Cefalo