Mazda racer scores TCA podium at TC America’s opener

In his first professional car race, Tyler Maxson scored a pole and a third-place finish as the ND2 MX-5 Cup car makes its competition debut

The TC America (formerly World Challenge Touring Car) season got underway at Circuit of the Americas this past weekend with four racers campaigning the MX-5 Cup car in the TCA class – two brought the ND1 while two others piloted the ND2. During a cold and sometimes wet weekend, Tyler Maxson, driving a new ND2 prepared by Copeland Motorsports, took the TCA pole for the first race. 

Maxson is only 14 years old and in his first season of car racing after competing at a very high level in international karting. While his limited experience in a car may have helped some of his competitors get the best of him during the race, he performed impressively. The second race on Sunday was less successful, however, as he got hit by another car that was trying to avoid a spinner at the start. Regardless, the weekend bodes well for the season, both in regards to Maxson and the ND2 MX-5.

“The new car is performing well right out of the gate,” said Dean Copeland, whose Copeland Motorsports is running both the ND2 for Maxson and an ND1 for Dinah Weisberg. “It’s competitive, which is all we can really ask for. We had the pace – the top three were within a tenth of each other in lap times, so it’s really close.”

Last year the MX-5 Cup cars struggled a bit with a less-than-favorable Balance of Performance. To rectify that moving forward, Copeland brought his cars to COTA early so that the series could learn what the ND2 was capable of. The goal was to keep the performance of the ND2 similar to that of the ND1, and make them both competitive with the other cars in the class, including the Honda Civic Si, Subaru BRZ and Mini Cooper. To keep the ND2 from running away, it carries more weight and a taller ride height than the ND1.

Jenny Gannett ran the entire 2018 season with a MX-5 Cup car, and converted it to ND2 specs just before the season began. After racing the car in its updated form, she was quite pleased.

“The difference is just incredible,” she said. “The horsepower is immediately noticeable. The car has a nice, throatier sound, so I’m enjoying that part. It’s more of a joy to drive and it feels like a more competitive car than it did last year. We are carrying a lot of weight in it this weekend, but on the test day, Thursday, when we could just throw whatever we wanted at it, the car was amazing. 

“The car is going to be way more competitive in the field,” she continued. “I like what Mazda has done with it and I’m really looking forward to racing it this year.”

In addition to Maxson, Gannett and Weisberg, Jose daSilva was also racing a MX-5 Cup car in the season opener, which had a rather healthy TCA field. He finished fourth in the second race. The next event for TC America is VIRginia International Raceway on April 26-28.