GT-3 Challenge presented by MPI: August 19, 2020

Post COVID-19 hiatus, GT-3 Challenge presented by MPI returned to action at Road Atlanta during the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour race weekend July 25-26 with Stacy Wilson taking both wins, relative newcomer Blake Wilson (Stacy’s son) building experience, and Jeff Dernehl (2019 GT-3 Challenge and Runoffs champion) shaking off cobwebs, showing formidable speed.

The CAT Nationals played host to the third GT-4 Challenge event, which showcased strong performances by Ken Nelson, George Cichon, and Paul Young (the latter two having split the top two spots on the podium).

The final opportunity for the racers to pass Michael Lewis and Stacy Wilson, co-leaders in the championship, will be at Pittsburgh International Race Complex August 28-30. (Below, see awards offerings from the partners.)

Building Momentum

2019 saw GT-3 up more than 30% in SCCA U.S. Majors participation; 2020 started off with great success (double digit racers at Buttonwillow Raceway in February). The question is whether the momentum returns in the second half of 2020. The partners have remained resolute.

Eight industry-leaders have rallied together to bolster support of the GT-3 racers

In 2019, it was five; in 2020, eight companies have joined forces to add to the GT-3 Challenge awards and prizes – appreciation – for the GT-3 Challenge racers.

AiM Sports, MPI, Hoosier Racing Tire, Mazda Motorsports, and Penske Racing Shocks are joined by new additions Bell Racing Helmets, Ave Motorsports, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. These eight companies are providing product to the racers, most of which are raffled (pre-COVID: during the Friday night GT-3 dinners with the racers, their teams and families).

The partner contributions:

  • MPI: Max Papis coaching day with the GT-3 Challenge champ (2019: Mazda racer Jeff Dernehl). Max, a former IndyCar competitor and 2x Daytona 24 Hour champ, worked with Jeff during the test day at the Hoosier Super Tour Road Atlanta event July 24, 2020. (The value of a coaching day with Max is $10,000.) MPI also provides the trophies, which will be awarded to the top five racers in total season GT-3 Challenge points (see below for points calculations.)
  • AiM Sports: Three $500 gift certificates. Last year, it was a Solo 2 DL and a SmartyCam. Due to AiM’s expansive product offering, AiM wanted to open it up to give the racer any choice he or she desired. Also, with participation increasing, more offerings were important to AiM.
  • Hoosier: One set of race tires. Hoosier tires helped Jeff Dernehl win the 2019 Runoffs and GT-3 Challenge championship, and is supporting many others racers with its offering.
  • Goodyear: One set of tires for the daily driver. Goodyear is known to provide a very competitive race tire – as 8x SCCA Runoffs National Champion and 2x Le Mans competitor Michael Lewis proves each time he wins on them.
  • Ave Motorsports: Thanks to Tony Ave of Ave Motorsports, the racer who attends the most 2020 GT-3 Challenge races, including the SCCA Runoffs, will receive $1,000. Fitting is that the tie breaker would be a vote among the GT-3 Challenge competitors, selecting the person who works hardest to rally the other racers. And, of course, Tony withdrew his name from the pot. But we at Mazda Motorsports did decide to call it the “Ave Motorsports United Challenge.”
  • Penske Racing Shocks: One $500 gift certificate – for product or service. This adds to the considerable number of certificates Penske is providing Mazda racers in Spec Miata and Spec MX-5.
  • Bell Racing Helmets: As technology continues to develop, helmets often do more than just protect. Each raffle winner will receive 50% off any Bell helmet, making this prize very valuable.
  • Mazda Motorsports: Each driver in the top 10 of the Challenge points standings entering the 2020 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, regardless of make, will earn a tow fund bonus to compete in the Runoffs. Michael Lewis, for example, earned $600 for his Buttonwillow performance. (He is also eligible for Mazda’s Runoffs tow fund bonus). Every Mazda racer who finishes in the top 20 in a GT-3 Challenge race earns between $150 and $300 (on top of Mazda’s standard GT-3 contingency awards). The GT-3 Challenge National Champion, if a Mazda, earns Mazda $1,500 worth of product (parts or merchandise from And, Mazda ensures all racers, regardless of make, earn a raffle prize (token of appreciation) at each event they attend.

Crowning the champion (points system):
Points for the overall championship are distributed based on the SCCA system: 25 for first; 21 for second; 18 for third and so on. Runoffs counts at 4x the points of regional GT-3 Challenge races; racers may only accrue points from the best four regional GT-3 Challenge race finishes plus the Runoffs).

Mazda pays contingency awards (in addition to the champion’s award & raffle items) to all makes; some are Mazda-exclusive.
Regardless of make, GT-3 Challenge racers are eligible to receive a Tow Fund Bonus to attend the SCCA Runoffs (paid post-Runoffs attendance). Payouts range between $200 and $600 (see page 18 here).

The champion (regardless of make), will receive one day coaching from Max Papis. If a Mazda racer, he/she will earn 100 Mazda contingency points valued at ~$1,500 to acquire parts (see page 18 of the Mazda contingency awards document here.)

Mazda racers are also eligible for Mazda’s U.S. Majors contingency payouts (1st = $600, 2nd = $350, 3rd = $150, 4th =125, 5th = $100), Runoffs race payout (1st = $5,000, 2nd = $2,500, 3rd = $1,500, 4th = $1,250, 5th = $1,000), the Runoffs tow fund (up to $600, which is in addition to the Tow Fund Bonus outlined above), Majors or Regional championship payout, plus per-race GT-3 Challenge bonuses (1st = $300, 2nd = $275, 3rd = $250, 4th = $225, 5th = $200, 6-15th = $175, 16-20th = $150). Note: Mazda’s GT-3 contingency awards at GT-3 Challenge events are not subject to reductions regardless of the number of racers.

GT-3 Challenge presented by MPI Schedule:
Rounds 1 & 2: Buttonwillow Raceway Park, SCCA Hoosier Super Tour, February 21-23
Rounds 3 & 4: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, SCCA Hoosier Super Tour, July 25-26
Rounds 5 & 6: Road America, SCCA U.S. Majors, August 15-16
Rounds 7 & 8: Pittsburgh International Race Complex, SCCA Hoosier Super Tour, August 28-30
Round 9: Road America, SCCA National Championship Runoffs, October 3-11