The long-awaited start to the 2020 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires® has finally arrived. Road America plays host to the first two rounds of what should be an epic championship battle with the Alana Long 100 this Thursday and Friday.
There’s something about the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup series that keeps drivers coming back.
With several former champions and numerous drivers who’ve found themselves just inches away from a championship, the names on this year’s entry list reflect a deep, determined, and talented pool of racers looking to drive themselves into victory lane.
“There is a lot of excitement about getting the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Cup season going this week at Road America,” said Director of Mazda Motorsports, Nelson Cosgrove. “We’ve got a new partner on the construction and support side with Flis Performance, and they’ve been great partners with us already.
“There is a new Customer Experience Center that integrates the BFGoodrich support nicely as well, so that is going to be great to have in the paddock and should be really good for our customer teams and drivers,” continued Cosgrove. “The new (SADEV sequential) transmission will be a great addition to the series. We’ve done a lot of testing and some of the high-mile units that have been taken apart look pretty much like new, so everyone is looking forward to seeing it in action this week.”
The 2020 season welcomes the return of former champions Nikko Reger (2018) and Todd Lamb (2009), who will be pulling double duty as both driver and team principal of Atlanta Speedwerks, which will arrive in Wisconsin with three entries for the season-opener.
“We were just up there for June Sprints so we are looking forward to fresh air and beautiful scenery,” Lamb said. “Road America is all about the draft, so social distancing may be a bit lacking, but we will all be wearing appropriate nomex face coverings. It will be nice to get away from all the dreary news and get back to the joy of motorsports!”
The 2019 Mazda Road to 24 scholarship winner, Jared Thomas, has joined Carter Racing Enterprises as he combines forces with the 2018 scholarship winner, Michael Carter, on the new team.
Some of the drivers with plenty of wins, but no title yet, include; Robert Stout, who’s finished top five in the points the last three seasons and was only 11 points out of the top spot last year, and Selin Rollan, who’s collected seven race wins over the past two seasons and finished runner-up in the championship last year.
Interestingly, both of these drivers have changed teams for 2020. Stout moves from McCumbee McAleer Racing to White Racing while Rollan arrives at Spark Performance following the 2020 pause of racing operations for Sick Sideways Racing.
“Even with all things going on in 2020, I still believe it is our year,” Rollan said. “We were very strong in 2019, but a few instances of bad luck cost us. Going into my third season, I have learned so much and feel as confident as ever for strong results!
“I was definitely surprised learning the news of Sick Sideways not competing in 2020, especially so close to the start of the season. But I don’t think changing teams this year will have a negative effect on me. Last year, the car was prepped and transported from our home shop in Miami so nothing will change there! I will still be part of a strong team and be ready to compete!”
This will be the first time that the fabled four-mile Road America has served as the season opener for the Mazda MX-5 Cup series. The 2020 season was due to start in April at Circuit of the Americas before the world put everything on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keeping Road America on the 2020 schedule required the series to move from the IndyCar weekend to the WeatherTech® International Challenge with Brian Redman weekend, Road America’s largest vintage event. The move in dates also presents a unique event format with practice on Wednesday evening, qualifying and Race 1 on Thursday and Race 2 on Friday. Updates will be provided via the series Twitter with race news and updates posted here.
At 4.048 miles, Road America is the longest track on the MX-5 Cup schedule. The circuit’s three long straightaways make for a spectacular showcase of drafting ability. Road America has produced numerous photo finishes as race leaders use the draft until the very last moment before the finish line.
Named in honor of a dear friend of the Mazda community taken from us too soon, the Alana Long 100 features races on Thursday at 5:15pm CT and Friday at 4:30pm.