Mazda Motorsports has unveiled the list of drivers nominated, at-large, for the 2022 MX-5 Cup Shootout. Automatic nominations will be determined by the conclusion of the SCCA Runoffs October 2.
The MX-5 Cup Shootout, which will run alongside the Spec MX-5 Shootout, will award three scholarships: The top prize winner earns a $110,000 scholarship to compete in the 2023 MX-5 Cup series with two additional scholarship recipients each earning $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 one 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 are: 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 professionally represent our brand and our partners.”
Nine of the top 15 racers in the current MX-5 Cup point standings have earned Mazda scholarships. With two events remaining, 2019 MX-5 Cup Shootout winner Jared Thomas leads overall, with current scholarship winner Connor Zilisch third; 2017 winner Selin Rollan fourth; 2009 winner Justin Piscitell sits 7th; 2020 winners Chris Nunes and Aaron Jeansonne sit 8th and 9th, respectively; 2015 winner Glenn McGee 12th; 2018 winner Michael Carter 14th (and former MX-5 Cup champion); current scholarship winner Bryce Cornet rounds out the top 15.
Reigning MX-5 Cup champion Gresham Wagner, sitting second in the point standings, strives to be the only repeat MX-5 Cup champion in series history, looking to take home another $250,000 grand prize.
Connor Zilisch is on the rise after sweeping the top step of the podium in the last event at Road America, which vaulted him to the top ranked rookie, which offers an $80,000 prize at the end of the season.
- AJ Zarcone – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Alex Berg – Spec MX-5 Challenge & Spec Miata / Teen Mazda Challenge
- Alex Bertagnoli – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Alexander Searle – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Austin Varco – Spec Miata
- Brennan Stammer – Spec Miata / Teen Mazda Challenge
- Camden Gruber – Spec Miata / Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Clayton Ketcher – Spec Miata, Teen Mazda Challenge
- Courtney Crone* – IMSA Prototype Challenge
- Grant West – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Jillian Fichter – Spec Miata
- Hanna Zellers* – Prototype Challenge
- JJ Hansen – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Laurin Brallier – Spec Miata
- Mark Polunin – Spec Miata
- Michael Borden – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Michele Abbate* – SCCA, WRL & Trans Am
- Mickey Thomas – Spec MX-5
- Mirabella Alfaro – Spec Miata
- Nate Cicero – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Nathan Saxon – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Nicholas Leone – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Nico Bratz – Spec Miata
- Owen McAllister – FE2
- Sheena Monk* – GT4
- Sterling Hamilton, FM, SCCA Runoffs national champion
- Sydney McKee – Spec Miata & IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo
- Thomas Annunziata – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- Uthman Alaoui – Spec Miata
- Westin Workman – Spec MX-5 Challenge
- William D’Elia – Spec Miata
- Wyatt Couch – Spec MX-5 Challenge / Spec Miata
*Due to significant professional sports car experience, Courtney Crone, Sheena Monk, and Michele Abbate are not eligible for the $110,000-valued scholarship, but they are eligible for the Women in Motorsports scholarship.
Read the article at MazdaMotorsports.com