For two days, nine grassroots Mazda racers contended for three Mazda scholarships to compete in the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, the 15th annual running of the contest. In addition, 10 kart racers vied to be part of the Mazda’s first club racing factory team that will run in the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series as NASA Teen Mazda Challenge drivers. The 19 finalists competed at the historic Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The MX-5 Cup Shootout’s top scholarship is valued at $110,000, with two additional prizes added this year, each worth $75,000. The Spec MX-5 Shootout awarded two drivers equal support – a factory-supported effort in club racing.
NASA, PAGID Racing, Penske Racing Shocks, Toyo Tires, and Mazda have all partnered with one another to help support the two club racing factory team recipients. In addition to Mazda, the other partner on both projects is PAGID Racing. Whether it’s Spec MX-5 Challenge or MX-5 Cup, racers get their stopping power thanks to PAGID Racing, known as a leader in pro sports car racing for years; now a leader in both club racing and pro.
When the two days of competition concluded, Mazda named Spec MX-5 racer Aaron Jeansonne as the winner of the $110,000 scholarship to advance him into Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. Jeansonne was a runner up in last year’s competition.
“This is surreal,” Jeansonne said. “I had so much I had to do this year to improve. I had a pretty good showing in last year’s MX-5 Cup Shootout and I really tried to take everything to heart and the feedback and all the areas I needed to improve. I worked tirelessly to make those improvements.
NASA Teen Mazda Challenge driver Chris Nunes was awarded one of the $75,000 scholarships and NASA Texas driver Savanna Little picked up the third scholarship. Both will advance to the Global MX-5 Cup series.
Judges had to choose from 10 aspiring kart racers to take the two spots on Mazda’s club racing factory team as Teen Mazda Challenge drivers in Spec MX-5. With help from eKartingNews, judges selected Bryson Morris from Mt. Juliet, Ill., and Alexander Berg from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Drivers were selected for their on- and off-track abilities and for their consistency across all areas.
In 2021, Berg and Morris will compete in the Western Region for Spec MX-5 Challenge, representing the partner brands and receiving mentorship from Mazda DPi driver and 2020 Sebring 12 Hour overall race winner Jonathan Bomarito.
Speed News will be publishing feature stories on all the Shootout winners in the coming weeks.