Drivers from numerous racing disciplines have earned their nominations to compete for one of three scholarships to assist in running the 2022 Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires championship.
October 4, 2021 – Mazda Motorsports has unveiled the list of drivers nominated for the 2021 MX-5 Cup Shootout.
The Shootout, planned for October 20 & 21 at Sebring International Raceway, in Sebring, Florida will award the winner a $110,000 scholarship to compete in the 2022 MX-5 Cup series. In addition, Mazda offers two additional scholarships each worth $75,000. At least one of the three recipients will be a woman to further help attract and retain women in motorsports.
Winning a club racing championship while driving a Mazda or Mazda-powered car is the primary way to be nominated for the Shootout, while other deserving drivers may be selected as at-large nominees. To win an automatic nomination, one must win a national championship at the SCCA Runoffs or at the NASA Championships, a regional championship within NASA’s Teen Mazda Challenge, or a conference championship in SCCA’s First Gear Mazda Challenge. (There are additional requirements such as winning in a Mazda.) Automatic and at-large nominees will be invited to submit a video proposal focused on their off-track efforts from which the finalists will be selected for the two-day Shootout.
This year’s MX-5 Cup judges: Pro racers and coaches Tom Long and Andrew Carbonell; BFG’s motorsport marketing manager Peter Calhoun; Mazda Motorsports’ program manager Jonathan Applegate, and Mazda Motorsports’ business development manager David Cook.
According to Cook, “The MX-5 Cup Shootout judges will select racers that have the ability and work ethic to create a sustainable, professional racing career. This takes more than just having talent behind the wheel, though that is a significant contributing factor for career racing success. Being able to secure the funding year-after-year is the key, which typically requires long-term development of the off-track skills such as networking, relationship building, business-to-business deal making, communication and more, as well as having strong personal attributes. In addition to being willing and able to put the work in to sustain a pro racing career, we seek drivers that we are confident would represent our brand and our partners professionally.”
Many of the past scholarship recipients have proven to be successful at the professional level. In the current MX-5 Cup standings, with one event remaining, MX-5 Cup Shootout winners Selin Rollan (2017), Michael Carter (2018), Jared Thomas (2019), Chris Nunes and Aaron Jeansonne (2020) are each in the top 10 (pictured top left and bottom left, respectively); Carter and Rollan, sitting second and third respectfully, are vying for the championship and its $250,000 cash prize; Chris Nunes is sitting fifth competing for the $85,000 in cash that goes to the Rookie of the Year; Jeansonne is coming off a podium finish at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca; Thomas, the reigning ROY, has had several strong finishes. For more information, go to MX-5Cup.com.
This year’s automatic nominees:
- Preston Pardus* – Spec Miata, SCCA Runoffs, NASA Championships and First Gear Mazda Challenge Southeast Champion
- Danny Steyn – STL, SCCA Runoffs national champion
- Vaughn Glace, FX, SCCA Runoffs national champion
- Sterling Hamilton, FM, SCCA Runoffs national champion
- Scott Rettich, FE2, SCCA Runoffs national champion
- Mark Abouzeid – NP01 NASA champion
- Camden Gruber – Spec Miata, NASA Teen Mazda Challenge Great Lakes Region champion
- Roy Fulmer – Spec Miata, NASA Teen Mazda Challenge Northern California Region champion
- AJ Zarcone – Spec Miata, NASA Teen Mazda Challenge Southern California Region champion
- Andrew Balgoyen – Spec Miata, NASA Teen Mazda Challenge Mid-Atlantic Region champion
- Travis Wiley – Spec Miata, SCCA First Gear Mazda Challenge Southern Conference champion
- Tyler Ladd – Spec Miata, SCCA First Gear Mazda Challenge Mid-States Conference champion
- Matthew Morin – Spec Miata, SCCA First Gear Mazda Challenge Northeast Conference champion
- Brandon Collins – Spec Miata, SCCA First Gear Mazda Challenge Northern Conference champion
- Aidan Fassnacht – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Alex Berg – Spec MX-5 Challenge & Spec Miata / Teen Mazda Challenge
- Brennan Stammer – Spec Miata / Teen Mazda Challenge
- Bruno Carneiro – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Bryce Cornet – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Bryson Morris – Spec MX-5 Challenge / Teen Mazda Challenge
- Clayton Ketcher – Spec Miata, Teen Mazda Challenge
- Connor Zilisch – Spec MX-5 Challenge & Spec Miata
- Courtney Crone** – IMSA Prototype Challenge
- Grant West – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Harry Voigt – Spec Miata / Teen Mazda Challenge
- Jillian Fichter – Spec Miata
- Joey Atanasio – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Laura Hayes – WRL
- Michael Borden – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Michele Abbate** – SCCA, WRL & Trans Am
- Sydney McKee – Spec Miata & IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo
- Wyatt Couch – Spec MX-5 Challenge / Teen Mazda Challenge
*Due to significant professional experience, Preston Pardus (SCCA Spec Miata National Champion) and Liam Snyder are not eligible for the Shootout
**Due to significant professional experience, Courtney Crone and Michele Abbate are not eligible for the $110,000-valued scholarship, but they are eligible for the Women in Motorsports scholarship. Note: Sydney McKee and Jillian Fichter are eligible for any of the three scholarships.