This week at Carolina Motorsports Park (CMP), two dozen young and incredibly skilled drivers will take a shot at earning significant support from a major automotive manufacturer on Nov. 15-16, 2023, during the Mazda Spec MX-5 Shootout and Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout.
While these shootouts take place at the same time and location, their goals and prizes are completely different – but both are equally awesome opportunities. One will place winners on the pro stage, offering drivers the shot at seat time in the 2024 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires series, with the other giving up-and-coming drivers access to SCCA’s Hoosier Racing Tire Super Tour and National Championship Runoffs in the Spec MX-5 Class.
Spec MX-5 Shootout: The Contenders
SCCA Road Racers will want to keep an eye on the Mazda Spec MX-5 Shootout, since three scholarship winners from the competition earn a Mazda Factory Team slot to compete at select Hoosier SCCA Super Tour events in 2024 within the Spec MX-5 (SMX) class, now part of Super Tour weekends.
Scholarship winners will receive a racing school education, as well as testing and an arrive-and-drive opportunity for the 2024 SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road America. All entry fees and consumables will be covered, plus assistance with travel expenses, a car damage budget, and more.
Mazda’s panel of judges will be looking not just at lap times around CMP. Also analyzed will be each driver’s ability to apply coaching advice that improves performance throughout the event. Additionally, drivers will be judged on their attitude and personality when it comes to displaying a zest and desire to learn.
The 12 Mazda Spec MX-5 Shootout finalists, with SCCA Region of record where applicable, are:
Corbin Collins (Ozark Mountain Region)
Ethan Goulart (New England Region)
Ethan Jacobs (Milwaukee Region)
Hudson Schwartz (Washington DC Region)
Justin Adakonis (New England Region)
Kamden Hibbitt (Ohio Valley Region)
Rafe Abdulali (New York Region)
Rocco Pasquarella (Florida Region)
Who to Watch: MX-5 Cup Shootout
During those same two days at CMP, the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout will occur. The finalists in that field are competing for a single, ultimate scholarship valued at $110,000 to compete in the 2024 Mazda MX-5 Cup. In addition, one runner-up will receive a $75,000 value scholarship, and the best performing female driver will receive a $75,000 scholarship.
Again, lap times at CMP will not be the sole determining factor in a winner. Drivers will also be judged on their ability to understand data, improve over the course of the weekend, media savvy skills, and general attitude and composure.
The 12 Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout contenders, with SCCA Region of record where applicable, are:
Alex Bertagnoli (Chicago Region)
Cam Ebben (Milwaukee Region)
Chase Jones (Indianapolis Region)
Julian DaCosta (Central Florida Region)
Laurin Brallier (North Carolina Region)
Nathan Nicholson (Indianapolis Region)
Nathan Saxon (New England Region)
Noah Harmon (Central Florida Region)
Westin Workman (Central Carolinas Region)
Wyatt Couch (Cal Club Region)
Hannah Greenemeier (Colorado Region)
If there’s any indication of the importance of a Mazda scholarship, look no further than Connor Zilisch. Recipient of SCCA’s Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year Award in 2021, Zilisch also garnered the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout scholarship that same year. In 2023, he wowed the racing world in Mazda MX-5 Cup competition, as well as Trans Am TA2 races.
Stay tuned for an update in the following weeks to learn who emerged as scholarship winners from the Mazda Spec MX-5 Shootout and Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout.
Photo Courtesy of Mazda Motorsports