Fresh out of karts, the young racer tackles MX-5 Cup and World Challenge
The Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup has long been a place for young racers to kick off their careers, with many of those drivers finding a Miata makes for a great transition from karts to cars. Tyler Maxson, aged 14, is the latest to start that motorsports journey but not only is Maxson racing in MX-5 Cup, he’s tackling TC America’s (formerly known as World Challenge Touring Car) TCA class as well with his Mazda MX-5 Cup car – and doing well, starting on pole and making the podium in his first professional race a few weeks ago at Circuit of the Americas.
While the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich season involves plenty of racing throughout the year, “We wanted to do more,” says Maxson. “World Challenge was a good thing to fill in the schedule. A podium in the first race is good. I expected to be fast, but I didn’t know exactly how things were going to go.”
The Georgia driver has been racing karts since he was 6, including some time in Europe and earning a Super Karts USA national championship. He also ran races in Spec Miata to become accustomed to running in a pack of cars, but otherwise his car racing experience was very limited prior to the COTA weekend. The karts, though, gave him the background he needed.
“It’s really hard for anybody to realize the amount of experience these kids have,” says Dean Copeland, whose Copeland Motorsports is running Maxson’s efforts this season. “Yeah, he’s 14-years old, but he’s been racing in fields that are 40 or 50 karts and the top 20 are within a tenth-and-a-half of each other. He’s used to the pressure, he’s used to the big car counts, he’s used to close racing. And probably the biggest thing, at 14, is they have no fear. These kids, all they know is wide-open, 100 percent. You look at the data and it shows. The amount of experience, and the age, is hard to compete with.”
Both Copeland and Maxson himself expect big things out of MX-5 Cup. Maxson dreams of racing a prototype someday, so the Mazda Road to 24 ladder makes a lot of sense for him, and the potential scholarship money is a big enticement.
“I definitely think [Rookie of the Year] is within reach,” Maxson says. “It’s a good challenge for us and I think we can achieve it if we have a good season, keep our nose clean and just consistently finish every race. [The scholarships] played a big role in choosing MX-5 Cup. The money for the championship and Rookie of the Year really helped us make the decision to go with the series.”
The 2019 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich tires season kicks off at Circuit of the Americas on March 23-24, with both races to be streamed live on MazdaMotorsports.com.