September 23 2020: Mazda Motorsports, National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and Toyo Tires are excited to announce the creation of Mazda’s first factory club racing team to run in Teen Mazda Challenge within the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series in 2021.
On Tuesday, October 6, Mazda Motorsports will announce a list of go-karters who will be nominated to compete in a Spec MX-5 Shootout later this year, which will run in congruence with the MX-5 Cup Shootout at the same venue and time (TBA). Both competitions will help catapult racers into their respective next levels on the sports car ladder.
The two-day Spec MX-5 Shootout will host six to nine go-karters, two of whom will be selected to become Mazda’s first club racing factory team. The two recipients will be supported and groomed by a Mazda-designated race team, Mazda’s Prototype driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class Jonathan Bomarito, and the Mazda Motorsports team.
Jonathan Bomarito: “I am very excited and honored to have the opportunity to help some of the best up and coming drivers through Mazda’s sports car ladder system. Racing is a unique industry, so having someone in your corner who can give advice on and off the track is something I wish I had at the start of my career. Mazda’s continued support to help young racers achieve their dreams of becoming professional race car drivers is unmatched in the industry and I can’t wait to get started in selecting the next group of future stars.”
The factory drivers will pilot the Mazda factory team in the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series – West Coast region – comprised of three marquee regular season events before moving to the post-season event(s). Each of the regular season Spec MX-5 Challenge Series events will pay thousands of dollars in contingency awards, and culminate with an expected $100,000 prize pool at the championship event. The Spec MX-5 National Champion will earn a $50,000 race fund and an automatic nomination for the MX-5 Cup Shootout.
As part of the factory deal, the factory drivers will fly Mazda scholarship colors on the provided race cars; all parts consumables will be provided, including the spec tires selected for Spec MX-5 – Toyo Tires’ Proxes RR – for each race event and pre-season testing; the racers will have their entry fees covered; and receive a $2,500 travel budget a $5,000 parts support budget for potential unexpected needs.
The Path to Becoming a Mazda Club Racing Factory Team Driver
To help select the karters who are both talented on and off track, and represent Mazda and all the partners, Mazda has developed a process consistent with the MX-5 Cup Shootout.
- Selecting the nominees: Mazda turned to several prominent industry professionals – eKarting News, Max Papis, Buddy Rice, Chris Wheeler, Jared Thomas, and others. Go-karters will become nominees for the Shootout either by winning a select championship or as an at-large bid. The nominee list is final, and will be announced Tuesday, October 6, 2020.
- Selecting the finalists: Nominees will be evaluated through a virtual process to determine top six to nine karters who will move on to the Shootout to be held at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The criteria and associated information can be found here.
- Selecting the scholarship recipients: During the Shootout, each karter will be interviewed by a panel of industry pros, as well as compete on track in Spec MX-5s. At the conclusion of these two days, Mazda’s first two-car club racing factory team will be created.
2020 marks the 15th year for the MX-5 Cup Shootout that has awarded talented club racers with a scholarship to compete in the Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires® each year, Mazda’s professional, spec racing series.
Club racers competing in a Mazda who win an SCCA Runoffs National Championship, NASA Championship, Teen Mazda Challenge regional championship, or Formula Mazda championship automatically earn nominations to the MRT24 Shootout. Recognizing that talented and deserving drivers may not always be in a position to win a championship, Mazda may select other racers as at-large nominees. These nominees have the opportunity to submit a business plan, video and resume to then be selected as finalists who compete in a two-day Shootout. During the two-day Shootout, a panel of judges interview the finalists to learn more about their off-track business prowess, knowledge of vehicle dynamics and more; the drivers also compete on-track behind the wheel of the MX-5 Cup race car.
The MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires® is Mazda’s signature spec series, offering more than $500,000 in a total prize pool, including a $200,000 scholarship to the champion and $75,000 Rookie of the Year award.
The MX-5 Cup race cars start as complete MX-5 road cars from the Mazda Hiroshima, Japan factory before being transported to engineering development partner Flis Performance in Daytona Beach, Florida, where they are transformed into a race car. The process includes disassembly of the production car, welding and paint of a full roll cage and interior, and adding more than 250 motorsports-specific parts. Other components of the car, including the Mazda SKYACTIV 2.0-liter engine are sealed to ensure even competition and a cost-effective platform.
Mazda Motorsports has combined decades of key learnings supplied by thousands of racers at every level of grassroots and pro racing to create Spec MX-5. We’ve applied these key learnings into four key pillars: affordability, reliability, tech-ability, and really fun to drive.
Building on the abundance of already fun third generation NC (2006-2015) MX-5s, Mazda Motorsports has developed a race kit with nearly every necessary part to convert the road car into the Spec MX-5 race car, intended for everyone from novices looking to make a long-term stay in club racing, to those aspiring to professional motorsports. The focus of the support program is to enable excellent sprint and endurance club racing competition through transparency, parity, rewarding racers with the best contingency awards in club racing, the best parts pricing, and assistance from Mazda Motorsports’ experts on everything from assembly, to set up, and driving. Spec MX-5 is club racing done right.
NASA’s Teen Mazda Challenge is a program designed to support young drivers coming out of karting and entering sports car racing while they compete in either Spec Miata or the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series. TMC champions are eligible for automatic nominations into the MX-5 Cup Shootout. In addition to this unique opportunity, TMC series has a number of other generous programs that provide benefits to up and coming drivers striving to advance their motorsports career (See the Contingencies and Prizes page for additional details).