As seen on NASA SpeedNews May 4: If you wanted to catch a glimpse of the Spec MX-5 field in the paddock at Buttonwillow Raceway in April, all you had to do was look for the newest, shiniest, prettiest cars in the paddock. The grid consisted mostly of newly constructed cars, including two supported by Mazda Motorsports, so they were fairly easy to spot.
After the inaugural race on the 2021 calendar at Buttonwillow in April, they all still looked the same as they did when they came off their trailers, save for a bit of Buttonwillow dust on a few.
The Spec MX-5 field gridded up with cars from American Iron, Super Touring and Thunder Roadster, so they had fast company. Mazda Motorsports Club Racing Factory team and Teen Mazda Challenge driver Alex Berg made the most of qualifying by logging a sub-2-minute lap time. That’s quick.
Berg capitalized on pole position and led the race from flag to flag, with the lead group of cars still within striking distance. When the checkers flew, it was Berg taking the win, Spec Miata veteran Todd Launchbaugh in second and NASA Rocky Mountain’s Andrew Clos in third.
“Well, yeah, I led from start to finish. But that doesn’t mean that it was a boring race at all,” Berg said afterward. “The guys behind me were on my back the entire race. I think I just played my cards right. And I did as best as I can. Thank you to Mazda Motorsports USA, and everyone who’s helped me.”
Wes Mollno had the third spot on the white flag lap, but a mistake in the Bus Stop allowed Clos to get by. By the time the two had arrived at the last turn before the front straight, they were in for a drag race to Start/Finish, and Clos came out ahead.
“It’s my first time at the track. So I’m just happy to be out here,” said Clos, who was racing in memory of George Clos. “I’m glad to be racing. We missed Utah because of COVID, of all things. So we’re just happy to be out here and I’m glad to be driving this car. I mean, this is an honor for my brother, who passed away a few years ago, who loved to race. And that was a close finish, a few cars in front of us racing it out, and we had to all check up at the end there. So it was close and it was just fun.”
Sunday morning’s qualifying race saw Launchbaugh finish on top, with Clos in second and Mike Travers in third. Travers earned the hard charger for the qualifying race by climbing up four spots.
“We ran about three weekends last year on this. But I got 18 years in spec Miatas, and this is just a little bit comfier couch than the Spec Miata,” Launchbaugh said. “A little bit more horsepower. A little bit more tire, and thank God, back to Toyos, so a lot more consistency through the race.”
For Sunday’s main, Alex Berg again came out on top, with Mazda Club Racing Factory teammate Bryson Morris in second and Clos in third. Berg picked up the win and the hard charger award by advancing by four positions.
Story by Brett Becker. Photos by Brett Becker and Herb Lopez