With the 2021 racing season halfway to completion, Teen Mazda Challenge drivers across the country are eyeing the prize of being selected as a finalist for the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout.
For 2021, the series has experienced significant growth, more than doubling in size to 37 competitors nationwide, and the series now includes two drivers on the Mazda Club Racing Factory Team in Spec MX-5.
That growth includes NASA regions that previously had not previously gridded any Teen Mazda Challenge competitors. NASA NorCal tops the charts with 13 competitors, followed by NASA Great Lakes with six drivers and NASA SoCal with five. NASA Mid-Atlantic now has three drivers. The Arizona, Florida, Rocky Mountain, Southeast and Texas regions each have one Teen Mazda Challenge driver.
Technically, there must be at least four Teen Mazda Challenge drivers in a region for them to be eligible for selection to the MX-5 Cup Shootout, but they could still be chosen if they win the overall Spec Miata points race in their region. Here’s how the season is shaping up so far.
After a disappointing finish in the first race of the season, NASA NorCal Teen Mazda Challenge driver Roy Fulmer IV has been on a tear in Spec Miata racing in the region. Fulmer IV has podiumed in every race since then, and has notched 10 wins in the process. He currently leads the points race in Teen Mazda Challenge and in regional points over Tomas Mejia in second, Clayton Ketcher in third and Brennan Stammer in fourth. Clayton Williams is currently running fifth, and all of the top five in the region are Teen Mazda Challenge drivers. With five events left in the season, Mejia could still put on a late-season run at the points, but for now Fulmer IV is in charge.
NASA Great Lakes
NASA Great Lakes has no shortage of driving talent in any class, and Spec Miata is certainly no exception. Teen Mazda Challenge driver Wyatt Wood now has a 14-point lead over second place Chase McIntyre and a 65-point lead over Camden Gruber in third. Due largely to absences from a few early-season Great Lakes events, Matthew Mockabee, Jason Ludlow and Sean Ludlow trail in the points race within the region. Wood doesn’t look as though he can topple John Allen who leads the region overall, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he can come out on top in Great Lakes Teen Mazda Challenge.
The racing season was heating up with the weather as the NASA SoCal Regions heads into its annual summer hiatus. In his first year in Teen Mazda Challenge, Antonio Zarcone has demonstrated he’s the guy to beat, notching three second-place overall finishes this season. He currently holds a 71-point lead over second place Cooper Hicks and has 209 points over Anthony Santos in third. Mark Polunin is currently in fourth in Teen Mazda Challenge and Wyatt Couch, who is splitting his time between NorCal and Spec Miata and Spec MX-5 is in fifth. There are two races left in the SoCal season.
In the Mid-Atlantic Region, Andrew Balgoyen holds a slim 22-point lead over second-place Zach Rubin. Camden Gruber is in third, but the interesting thing is Gruber has four wins and four seconds, as does Balgoyen, but Gruber missed the first event in April, likely because he raced with the Great Lakes Region the following week. That makes all the difference at this point in the season. This will be a points race worth watching as the season unfolds and to see which region Gruber focuses on.
After the dust had settled at Sonoma, Wesley Mollno emerged with the points lead in the Western Region Series, with Ricardo Arruda in second. Racing in the Western Region Series on the Mazda Club Racing Factory Team, Teen Mazda Challenge driver Alex Berg leads holds onto third place over Andrew Clos, who is in fourth. Adam Gonzales is fifth and Mike Travers is sixth. After suffering a transmission failure at the first race of the season, Wyatt Couch is more than 300 points back in eighth place. The Spec MX-5 West Region Marquee Events calendar wraps up at Thunderhill Raceway at the end of July.