IRVINE, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2010) - Scott Shelton proved that persistence and practice makes perfect, winning this year’s MAZDASPEED Shootout and a ride in the 2011 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Shelton follows in the footsteps of Andrew Caddell, Brad Rampelberg, Justin Piscitell, and Nick Evans, the four previous Mazda shootout winners.
With the win, Shelton also joins the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver ladder program class of 2011. The MAZDASPEED ladder has been a critical part of the success of up-and-coming racers including Raphael Matos, John Edwards, Conor Daly, Joel Miller, Connor De Phillippi, Dane Cameron, Jason Saini, Todd Lamb, Eric Foss, Adam Christodoulou, Sage Karam, Spencer Pigot, and Felix Serralles.
Shelton, a 40-year-old Southern California native, qualified for the club racer shootout by winning the 2010 NASA Performance Touring C (PTC) Championship race in his Mazda RX-8. He moved up to the finals by submitting one of the best business proposals, used as the initial screening tool defining racers who have the “total package” for success.
In the one-day shootout, held at the Michelin/BFGoodrich Laurens Proving Grounds in Greenville, S.C., Shelton was rated tops among the five finalists. This was Shelton’s second appearance in the finals, after finishing as a runner-up in the 2008 shootout.
The five finalists were a diverse group ranging from a 16-year-old to an AARP-eligible driver with 25 years of racing experience.
• Marc Hoover, Cameron Park, Calif., NASA PTD National Champion, MX-5 Miata
• Dan McKeever, Grantsville, Utah, NASA Spec Miata National Champion, MX-5 Miata
• Scott Shelton, Los Angeles, Calif., NASA PTC National Champion, RX-8
• Nate Sparks, Daphne, Ala., NASA Teen Challenge (East) Champion, MX-5 Miata
• Tyler Vance, Ladera Racnch, Calif., NASA PTE & Teen Challenge (West) Champion, MX-5 Miata
The criteria: Given that each of the five had proven themselves on the track to win a championship, the criteria to move up needed to be more encompassing. To succeed on the professional level requires a balance of both on-track and off-track skills including the following:
• Driving ability – fast laps
• Driving ability – consistent laps
• Driving ability – wet weather control (New for 2010)
• Technical feedback – Understanding of vehicle dynamics and suspension
• Technical feedback – Ability to evaluate vehicle handling
• Technical feedback – Ability to analyze data
• Technical feedback – Ability to improve vehicle handling
• The business of motorsports – Business proposal
• The business of motorsports – Business presentation
• The business of motorsports – PR Skills
The driving sessions were conducted using Skip Barber Racing prepared Mazda MX-5’s similar to those used in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.
The judges: Each year Mazda invites a panel of outside judges to make the selection. The judges brought a wealth of both on-track, and off-track expertise. Over a dozen professionals were involved in either the preliminary business proposal review, on-track activities, or both. The panel consisted of:
• Rick Benjamin – Carolina Productions
• Andy Bornhop – Managing Editor, Road & Track magazine
• Steven Cole Smith – Automotive Editor, Orlando Sentinel
• Laura Culley – Freelance motorsports journalist
• Charles Espenlaub – Professional Mazda racer, Grand-Am Rolex GT
• Pete Evanow – Owner, epoxe PR, Instructor, Cal State-Fullerton
• John Finger – Former IMSA GTU Champion, Owner John Finger Mazda
• Elliott Forbes Robinson – Motorsports Hall of Fame Road Racer
• Joe Foster – Co-owner/driver, Dempsey Racing
• Karl Koenigstein – BFGoodrich Tires
• Silvia Mammone – BFGoodrich Tires
• Mark Mitchell – SPEEDTV.com
• Lisa Natale - Playboy
• Lyn St. James – Women in the Winner's Circle Foundation & Driver Development Academy
• Jeremy Shaw – Writer/broadcaster and founder, Team USA Scholarship
• Courtney Smith – Haymarket Publishing
The tally: After a full day of both driving, and classroom activities, the judges added the objective and subjective scores - discussing the merits of each driver. The judges deliberated for over two hours before declaring Scott Shelton the champion.
Shelton’s prize package: The total prize package is valued at over $75,000 and is the largest prize in club racing.
• $50,000 for the running of his car for the season
• $10,000 in parts support
• A Sparco driving suit and helmet
• Professional media training (Courtesy of MAZDASPEED)
• Ten sets of BFGoodrich tires, one set per race (Courtesy of BFGoodrich Tires)
• Ten entry fee waivers (Courtesy of SCCA Pro Racing)
Scott Shelton: “I had an advantage in that I had lost the shootout two years ago. The advantage came from the constructive feedback from the judges. It took me two seasons to win another championship, but once I qualified I was determined to nail every possible category. I’m thrilled that after almost two decades of club racing, I’m going to really test myself in 2011 against professional drivers and teams. The fact that this year’s competition was held at a test track added a unique twist. I’m grateful to Mazda and BFG for staging such a great shootout. Thanks to everyone at RDR and Mothers for helping me win the championship that qualified me for the shootout.”
Steve Sanders – MAZDASPEED Competition Manager: “Scott Shelton has raced with Mazda for almost two decades now. He was a finalist two years ago, and obviously used that experience when he made the finals this year.”
Karl Koenigstein – Manager, Race Tire Development, BFGoodrich Racing: "BFGoodrich Tires appreciates our partnership with MAZDASPEED for the 2010 shootout and congratulates Scott Shelton on his win. It was a great experience for BFGoodrich Tires' staff to host the event at Laurens Proving Grounds, which we hope provided a truly neutral site to evaluate the drivers, not favoring east or west coast competitors. We were impressed by the racers' abilities behind the wheel at LPG, as well as in the board room, and we look forward to the current competitors, as well as future drivers, racing and winning with Mazda on BFGoodrich tires."
Charles Espenlaub: "This marks my fifth year as a MX-5 Cup shootout judge. Each year the racers raise the bar making the decision an increasingly difficult one. All five of these racers have the potential to be competitive on the pro-level. I’m sure Scott will do a great job for all involved and I can already anticipate at least a couple of others moving up in 2011 on their own. "
Rick Benjamin: "It was my first experience participating as a judge in the MAZDASPEED Shootout, and it was a real eyeopener...a tough day of competition and a tough choice for us. I think all five finalists brought a lot to the event and I look forward to watching them progress up the MAZDASPEED Ladder. Our Shootout winner has incredible potential in this sport and I look forward to watching him bid for Rookie of the Year honors in the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup come 2011."
Courtney Smith: "Again Mazda shows their commitment to club level racing and the ability to live your dreams of becoming a professional racing driver in the MX-5 cup. This competition was more than just lap times. Mazda wants to promote the complete racer; to win you must be fast, smart, technical and business
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