Challenger Spirit by Aaron Jeansonne

Hi everyone, I’ve had several of you reach out after our recent Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup rounds at St. Petersburg. It means a lot to have all of that support and to know that our efforts didn’t go unnoticed, so thank you very much. People often say your character is defined by how you act in times of challenge and adversity rather than triumph, but it doesn’t mean that it is easy to get through those times.

When we unloaded at St. Pete, we all kept our expectations in check. I have never driven on a street course before so our outright pace was an unknown. Going into the weekend coming off a solid performance at Sebring and gaining the Rookie Championship points lead, I had a realistic goal of a solid pair of top-10 finishes. In practice one, I couldn’t believe how narrow the track was. For anyone that may not know, street courses are literally city streets that are closed and turned into a race track with concrete barriers around it and temporary curbing put down at (some) apexes.

To my surprise, we were fifth quickest in the opening practice session. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the track yet so I was excited to see how much we could improve throughout the weekend. We ended both practice sessions with very good pace. Considering we decided not to put on new tires in either practice session while several others did, we had confidence that we could get our Provision Motorsports Mazda soul red 24 car on the front row in qualifying. This was a bit of a turning point for the weekend, but not in a good way!

When my teammate, Drake, and I came out of our pit stalls to start qualifying, we got stuck behind a couple of slower cars. As I was getting around both of them after starting my first qualifying lap, he attempted to follow me through. Unfortunately for us, he missed his braking point by a slight margin while on the painted area (which has very little grip), and collided with me in the corner. I backed straight into the concrete barrier and the session was over for both of us. When we assessed the damage we realized my car would definitely be out for the remainder of the weekend. Drake is a real veteran of the series that makes very few mistakes, and he was obviously very upset that this happened. But he handled it like a champion and kept a positive attitude moving forward from the situation. Drake is a real veteran of the series who makes very few mistakes, and he was obviously very upset that this happened. But he handled it like a champion and kept a positive attitude moving forward from the situation. We were fortunate enough that our series teammates Spark Performance and Gresham Wagner had a second car that we were able to use for the upcoming races. The car needed some updating and work done to it to make it ready to race, and my team stayed up literally the entire night to make sure it was as ready as it could be.

I gave it everything in race one to give all my guys a decent result for their efforts. We had to start in the back of the 22-car field, and finished in the top 10 to claim valuable points and the $2,000 Hard Charger award. The car held together and we no problems besides having slightly less power than our car had. The team stayed busy during the whole seven-hour break to get the car even better for race two.

After the green flag for race two, I made a very aggressive move on the start and got past multiple cars just in Turn One. I felt we had a real chance to get further inside the top 10 this time! Unfortunately, after a few laps, we had an issue that caused a fire and I had to pull over to get out of the car. Thankfully, the series had us do practice runs getting out of the car in case of a fire the day before. My team also reminded me of the steps to take on the radio as it was happening, and I was able to get out very quickly and remembered to activate the car’s fire system.

I’ve had a lot of people commend me for having a positive attitude despite all of the unfortunate events that happened over the weekend. It means a lot, and I thank all of you very much for the kind words. It must be noted though, it is much easier to react that way when you have a group around you that believes in you no matter what and would work tirelessly for the success of each other such as my Provision Motorsports team.

I reacted no different than they did, so I can’t thank them enough. It also helps when so many people in the paddock help and display kindness. We even had a another team bring our guys dinner after qualifying while they were working all night.

After the weekend, we fell from fourth the seventh in overall points and from first to third in the Rookie Championship points. If we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to charge through the field in race one, it would definitely be much worse! Next on the schedule is Mid-Ohio May 14-16. I’ve been there one time in an endurance race in an NC Miata back in 2019, and absolutely loved the place, as I usually love tracks with lots of elevation changes and off-camber corners!

We’ve had to overcome some adversity this season but that’s part of racing and it always will be. Can’t wait to get back on track and get some positive momentum moving forward! Again, thank you for all the support.

– Aaron Jeansonne