For the fifth consecutive year, Mazda will assist one talented racer to make the leap from club racing to the professional ranks. That racer must demonstrate skills both in the cockpit and in the business arena, proving that they have the total package to succeed.
To be eligible for the shootout the racer must first win a club racing national championship with Mazda power. Over 200 racers competed in the recent SCCA Runoffs, NASA National Championships, and the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge. From those races, 14 Mazda powered champions emerged. Each was then invited to submit a business proposal to determine the five finalists.
The five finalists for the 2010 shootout are: Marc Hoover - 2010 NASA PTD Champion; Dan McKeever - 2010 NASA Spec Miata Champion; Scott Shelton - 2010 NASA PTC Champion; Nate Sparks - 2010 NASA Teen Challenge (East) Champion; Tyler Vance - 2010 NASA PTE & Teen Challenge (West) Champion.
The other 2010 champions (and shootout semi-finalists) were: Jon Brakke - 2010 SCCA E Production Champion; Andrew Charbonneau - 2010 SCCA Spec Miata Champion; Jeff Diffenderfer - 2010 NASA PTA Champion; Alan McCallum - 2010 NASA Formula Mazda Champion; Patrick O'Neill - 2010 NASA Pro Mazda Champion; Scott Rettich - 2010 SCCA Formula Enterprise Champion; Rob Warkocki - 2010 SCCA GT-3 Champion; Darryl Wills - 2010 SCCA Formula Mazda Champion; Tyler Wolfson - 2010 Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge Champion.
The five finalists will travel to Greenville, S.C., for a one-day shootout at the Laurens Proving Grounds. This is a new location for the shootout and one that is off-the-radar for racers – this is the Michelin/BFG test facility. No driver will have ever had the opportunity to drive the track prior to the day. he venue change was a suggestion from the BFGoodrich engineering team. BFGoodrich is the tire partner to both the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup as well as the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED challenge. The BFG engineering team will be taking a leading role in the evaluation of the technical knowledge and feedback from the drivers.
The shootout is far beyond just measuring “Who is fastest?” since each racer has already proven their ability to win a championship race. The shootout measures all aspects of a driver, including fast lap times, lap time consistency, technical feedback and knowledge, the ability to write a comprehensive business plan for motorsports success and PR and media skills
The judges are invited by Mazda and comprise a variety of expertise. Judges include driving legends and past champions, team owners, race engineers, marketing executives, and motorsports journalists.
“In the racing world, speed is critical, but the intention of this program is to see who has the other business talents and communication skills necessary to succeed in motorsports long-term, ” notes Steve Sanders, MAZDASPEED Motorsports competition manager. "Our three most recent winners, Brad Rampelberg, Justin Piscitell, and Nick Evans all proved themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt on the pro level in 2010 finishing 1-2-3 in the MX-5 Cup. Our goal remains to help support the next up-and-coming talent."