SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Nico Bratz SHINES during Chicagoland’s 51st That Loooong Race!

Inaugural SM2 Champion crowned, Spec Miata Championship wraps up, and Spec Miata Challenge race highlight the weekend.

After the seven regular events which made up the 2021 Midwestern Council of Sports Car Clubs season, the final round of the season occurred during the 51st annual That Loooong Race! presented by The Chicagoland Sports Car Club on Saturday October 30th. Two races would take place to cap off a great 2021 racing season at Blackhawk Farms Raceway with the Group 1 (SM/SM2) 100-mile race taking place first and then the fifteen lap Spec Miata Challenge Race presented by Advanced Autosport’s to close out the day.

Entering the final event for the Inaugural SM2 class championship, points leader Iowa’s own Paul Gilbert who over this past season accumulated five wins dominated to claim his sixth win for the year and the inaugural SM2 championship with a best time of 1:25.047 in his number seventeen SM2 classed Spec Miata. Rounding out the podium was second place finisher Perter Leonteos, and third place team of co-drivers Pat O’Hara / Stephan Desmoulin.

During the same group one race, the Spec Miata class saw quite a battle between seventeen-year-old Nico Bratz and Bret Pange. The back and forth between both drivers lasted all 100-miles, with Nico winning in the end with a best time of 1:21.753. Bret Prange finished in second place and fifteen-year-old Matthew Novak claiming third place on the podium. Closing out the Spec Miata championship for 2021 was Jonathan Cullis claiming the championship with four podiums and Austin Pearce who at fourteen years of age is the highest finishing newcomer in Spec Miata points.

Finishing out the day’s racing activities was the fifteen lap Spec Miata Challenge Race presented by Advanced Autosport’s, the Midwest’s most popular authority in Spec Miata. The challenge race saw twenty-four cars take the start of the race with a mix of nineteen SM and five SM2 cars racing for the same spots on the podium. During the first five minutes of the race the top three of Nico Bratz, Matthew Novak, and Daniel Ibrahim were battling back and forth trading spots for the lead in turn one during the first four laps. After lap five, Nico Bratz grabbed the lead for good and pulled away with the fastest lap of 1:22.072 and a fourteen second gap from the rest of the field. On lap seven, Dan got by Mathew in turn one, with Mathew tucking in behind Dan and following right behind him until lap twelve, when Mathew got around Dan on the Inside of turn one to reclaim second place. On the very next lap however, Mathew went off in turn one and Dan got around him to reclaim second place and both would finish the race in that order. At the checkered flag seventeen-year-old Nico Bratz claimed his second win for the day, Daniel Ibrahim claimed second place, and Mathew Novak would claim his second podium of the day with a third-place finish in the annual Spec Miata Challenge race. Cam Ebben would climb all the way from last place at the start to finish in sixth place passing twenty-three cars along the way.

2021 Final Points Standings
Spec Miata
Final Pos. Driver Name Points Hometown
1  Jonathan Cullis 82 Mundelein, IL.
2 Keith Mellen 53 Downers Grove, IL.
3  Austin Pearce 32 Dunlap, IL.
4 Bruce Szczech 31 Madison, WI.
Spec Miata 2
Final Pos. Driver Name Points Hometown
1 Paul Gilbert 150 Davenport, IA.
2 John Haluska 115 West Des Moines, IA.
3 Patrick O’Hara 77 Wauwatosa, WI.
4 Michael Thomae 53 Wauwatosa, WI.

Prizes & Awards

The National Spec Miata class with increased championship payouts for year end with their top four finishers in the championship earning as follows: 1st place $500, 2nd place $300, 3rd place $175, 4th place $125, and continued support through the Mazda Team Support Program ( MTSP).

The SM2 class will have a year-end championship prize fund for the top four finishers in the championship earning as follows: 1st place $625, 2nd place $375, 3rd place $215, 4th place $150 and continued support for MTSP members.