August 10, 2022 — Mazda Motorsports is excited to announce the karters nominated to compete in this year’s Spec MX-5 (SMX) Shootout, two of whom will comprise Mazda’s factory club racing team drivers next year in the Spec MX-5 Challenge presented by Toyo Tires race series.
The inaugural Spec MX-5 Shootout began two years ago, attracting some of the world’s best karters such as Connor Zilisch, Bryson Morris, Alex Berg, and Westin Workman, each of whom went on to compete in a Mazda shootout the following year, with two winning scholarships. Each of these drivers were nominated by industry expert eKartingNews.com, Mazda’s go-to source for karting insights.
Last year’s shootout winners Westin Workman and Nate Cicero (pictured above, left to right) have been outstanding in the Spec MX-5 Challenge series in 2022 running up front, contending for the national series championship (worth $15,000) and the overall SMX championship (top prize worth an additional $30,000).
To ensure another strong nominee class for this year, Mazda turned to several of these racers as well as eKartingNews.com once again.
According to David Cook, Mazda Motorsports’ business development manager who oversees Mazda’s grassroots racing program and shootouts, these racers will have the opportunity to submit a video, sharing why they should be selected to compete in the two-day Spec MX-5 Shootout. The focus should be primarily on the effort and results off-track to become a sustainable professional sports car driver, which we will discuss with the nominees at length before they submit their videos.”
A panel of judges – industry experts – will evaluate the video submissions to select the finalists.
Those who make it to the Spec MX-5 Shootout later this year (location and date TBA) will be provided a Mazda Motorsports’ racing suit designed and created by Max Papis Innovations (MPI) to wear at the shootout, as seen pictured above with Max Papis at the 2021 SMX Shootout. Max Papis, two-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner and former IndyCar star has been a Spec MX-5 Shootout judge since inception and may return. Chris Nunes and Connor Zilisch, previous Mazda MX-5 Cup shootout winners and current competitors, will help Mazda judge, as will Jim Emerson of Pagid Racing. These judges will assess the competitors on track in the SMX race car, their ability to consume and use data, as well as their off-track skill sets required to be a sustainable professional race car driver.
At the conclusion of the Shootout, two racers will be selected to be the drivers for Mazda’s club racing factory team. These drivers will be groomed and supported by Mazda; they will be placed with the Mazda-designated race team; they will receive coaching by a Mazda-designated coach and driver at each of the five race events, all of which will be held at bucket-list, pro racing tracks. The drivers will receive a full-arrive-and-drive season, including testing and a racing school to earn his or her race license, all entry fees and consumables, along with a $6,000 travel budget, up to $7,500 car damage budget (along with a one-time crash damage budget of $17,500), and more.
“For aspiring, professional race car drivers, sports car racing may be the most viable racing path,” commented Cook. “Within the sports car ladder, we are proud the Spec MX-5 Challenge series is known as the driver development series where all racers, regardless of experience level, may compete on equal footing in club racing, with parity and competition at the core of the class. For those not selected as the two recipients of our factory support, SMX, as well as Spec Miata, are two great race classes to consider.”
- Ayden Ingratta, Kingsville, ON, CAN
- Ben Maier, Chester, MD
- Caleb Gafrarar, Midland, NC
- Cameron Weinberg, Carrolton, GA
- Chase Hand, Wilton, CA
- Chase Jones, Indianapolis, IND
- Christian Miles, Paloma, IL
- Connor Ferris, Hackettstown, NJ
- Cooper Shipman, Austin, TX
- Corbin Collins, Springfield Greene, MO
- Dalton Hanes, High Point, NC
- Finn Bayliff, Cincinnati, OH
- Frankie Mossman, La Verne, CA
- Gavin Bayliff, Cincinnati, OH
- Hannah Greenemeier, Golden, CO
- Hayden Jones, Wake Forest, NC
- Helio Meza, Spring, TX
- Jace Park, Overland Park, KS
- Jed Perkins, St Petersburg, FL
- Jeremy Fletcher, St. Cloud, FL
- Jesus Vasquez, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
- Jonathan Kotyk, Atlantic Beach, FL
- Justin Adakonis, Ridgefield, CT
- Kamden Hibbitt, Westerville, OH
- Kyriakos Sioukas, Sacramento, CA
- Liam Letzsch, Golden, CO
- Macy Williams, Littleton, CO
- Marcello Paniccia, Ontario, Canada
- Max Garcia, Coconut Grove, FL
- Nicholas Terlecki, Gilberts, IL
- Noah Baker, Pinehurst, TX
- Noah Rosser, Bradenton, FL
- Nolan Allison, Bloomfield Hills, MI
- Parker Delong, Glendale, AZ
- Paul Bocuse, Orlando, FL
- Pauly Massimino, Indian Trail, NC
- Reid Sweeney, St. Louis, MO
- Rocco Pasquarella, Boca Raton, FL
- Sebastian Mateo Naranjo, Edwards, IL
- Tristan Young, Mesa, AZ
- Tyler Wettengel, Davidson, NC
- William Robusto, Fort Mill, SC
Sept 24, 2020: The First Club Racing Factory Team to be Formed by Mazda
About the MX-5 Cup Shootout
About Idemitsu MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires®
About Spec MX-5
About NASA’s Teen Mazda Challenge