Defending SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup champion team CJ Wilson Racing has taken the first step in its title defense by signing the 2012 Mazda Club Racer Shootout winner, Patrick Gallagher, for the 2013 season. Gallagher, the 20-year-old native of Thornville, Ohio, joins the 2011 Mazda Club Racer Shootout winner, Elliot Skeer, at CJWR, in what is almost certainly going to be the team to beat in 2013.
The decision to sign with the reigning champions was made after Gallagher tested the car at Harris Hill Raceway, Texas in December. "I quickly got a very good feeling about the team," explained the 2010 SCCA F500 Triple Crown champion. "We were very quick right from the start of the session, but the team wasn't content to just make laps and burn tires – together we worked on small adjustments to the set up which made a big difference as the test went on".
This attention to detail was enough to seal the deal for Gallagher who stated that he knew there and then that "this was the best possible place for me to win a championship."
Team owner, CJ Wilson, a Major League Baseball pitcher with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is equally enthusiastic: "CJWR as a team and me, as an owner, are very excited to have Patrick Gallagher in the MX-5 Cup series. Although we are just getting underway with the first official test, he has shown himself to be as advertised; fast, coachable, and dedicated. This should be a great year for the team! The Mazda ladder system is a phenomenal program and we hope to see Patrick utilize the connection all the way up."
John, Doonan, the Director of Mazda Motorsports is excited about Gallagher's entry into professional sports car racing. "The Mazda Club Racer Shootout has become a signature event for us. It really shows that a talented club racer can make the jump to the pro ranks. The fact that Patrick is also making the leap from formula cars to sports cars makes it an even more interesting challenge. We're pleased that he has joined up with CJ Wilson Racing for 2013. We joke that with his baseball background, CJ knows more about coming up through the farm system than any other team owner."
The 2012 SCCA Formula Enterprises champion, Gallagher, got his first opportunity to test himself against his new teammates and the rest of the 2013 MX-5 Cup field during the first official test at Sebring on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Rounds one and two of the 2013 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 will take place at Sebring on March 14-15.