IRVINE, Calif. – Eighteen semi-finalists have been chosen to compete for the opportunity to earn a fully funded ride in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup in 2014.
Of those chosen, five were SCCA National Runoffs Champions including Jim Drago (Spec Miata), Rob Huffmaster (Super Touring Lite), Scott Rettich (Formula Enterprises), Rob Warkocki (GT-3) and Darryl Wills (Formula Mazda).
The Mazda Club Racer Shootout is the single largest prize in club racing. Since 2007, Mazda has annually promoted one talented club racer to the professional ranks. The $75,000 prize funds a drive in the Mazda MX-5 Cup.
The heart and soul of Mazda Motorsports is club racing, and supporting those racers who have invested in racing a Mazda. The criteria for the shootout is to identify the aspiring professional racer who has the best range of skills required to succeed. These skills include speed, consistency, racecraft, technical feedback, and off-track business and PR skills. History has shown that a driver will be limited in success if they are lacking in multiple areas.
“With more club racers than any other car company, we wanted to find a suitable way to bridge the gap from club racing to the professional ranks,” John Doonan, Mazda Director of Motorsports, said. “Our shootout has become a signature event for Mazda Motorsports. Without exception, every driver who won the shootout proved to be competitive in Mazda MX-5 Cup, with several developing solid professional careers.”
Eighteen racers are semi-finalists, having met the eligibility criteria for 2013. Each has won a recognized championship over a minimum number of competitors. The next step is for the racer to submit a business presentation, which will be reviewed and scored by a team of motorsports and marketing professionals. From those proposals, the finalists will be selected.
The final shootout will be a one-day event at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in November where the racers will be tested on the track for their technical skills. It is a winner-take-all event with one racer moving up to the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup for 2014.
The 18 semi-finalists are:
Racer; Club/Series; Hometown/Residence
Ben Albano; Skip Barber Racing School; Greenwich, CT
Joey Bickers; NASA Teen Challenge (California); Moorpark, CA
Jim Drago; SCCA National Championship Runoffs; Memphis, TN
TJ Fischer; Worldspeed Formula Car Championship; Vacaville, CA
Dennis Holloway; NASA National Championships; Huntington Beach, CA
Rob Huffmaster; SCCA National Championship Runoffs; Shelby Township, MI
Andrei Kisel; Sports Car Club of British Columbia; North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Jason Kohler; NASA National Championships; Waterford, MI
Zachary Munro; NASA Teen Challenge (Colorado); Granby, CO
Adam Poland; NASA Teen Challenge (Texas); Mount Vernon, Texas
Scott Rettich; SCCA National Championship Runoffs; Camden, OH
Matt Schultz; NASA National Championships; Portland, OR
Cherie Storms; Sports Car Club of British Columbia; Langley, BC, Canada
Jon Van Caneghem; NASA National Championships; Marina del Rey, CA
Cal Vandaalen; Spec Miata Championship (Canada); Wellington, NS Canada
Rob Warkocki; SCCA National Championship Runoffs; Frankfort, IL
Michael Whelden; Worldspeed Formula Car Championship; Sausalito, CA
Darryl Wills; SCCA National Championship Runoffs; Houston,TX