Two-time NASA champion Scott Shelton will follow in the footsteps of Andrew Caddell, Brad Rampelberg, Justin Piscitell, and Nick Evans as winners of the Mazda Shootout. He also joins the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver ladder program class of 2011. The MAZDASPEED ladder has been a critical part of the success of up-and-coming racers including Raphael Matos, John Edwards, Conor Daly, Joel Miller, Connor De Phillippi, Dane Cameron, Jason Saini, Todd Lamb, Eric Foss, Adam Christodoulou, Sage Karam, Spencer Pigot, and Felix Serralles.
Shelton, a 40-year-old Southern California native, qualified for the club racer shootout by winning the 2010 NASA Performance Touring C (PTC) Championship race in his Mazda RX-8. He moved up to the finals by submitting one of the best business proposals – the initial screening tool defining racers who have the “total package” for success. In the one-day shootout, held at the Michelin/BFGoodrich Laurens Proving Grounds in Greenville, S.C., Shelton was rated tops among the five finalists. This was Shelton's second appearance in the finals. He won the 2008 NASA PTD Championship and was a runner-up in that years shootout.
The five finalists were a diverse group ranging from a 16-year old, to an AARP-eligible driver with 25 years of racing experience.
· Marc Hoover, Cameron Park, Calif, NASA PTD National Champion, MX-5 Miata
· Dan McKeever, Grantsville, Utah, NASA Spec Miata National Champion, MX-5 Miata
· Scott Shelton, Los Angeles, Calif, NASA PTC National Champion, RX-8
· Nate Sparks, Daphne, Alabama, NASA Teen Challenge (East) Champion, MX-5 Miata
· Tyler Vance, Ladera Racnch, Calif, NASA PTE & Teen Challenge (West) Champion, MX-5 Miata
Given that each of the five had proven themselves on the track to win a championship, the criteria to move up needed to be more encompassing. To succeed on the professional level requires a balance of both on-track and off-track skills. The driving sessions were conducted using Skip Barber Racing prepared Mazda MX-5's similar to those used in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.
After a full day of both driving, and classroom activities, the judges added the objective and subjective scores before declaring Shelton the champion.
The total prize package is valued at over $75,000 and is the largest prize in club racing.
· $50,000 for the running of his car for the season
· $10,000 in parts support
· A Sparco driving suit and helmet
· Professional media training (Courtesy of MAZDASPEED)
· Ten sets of BFGoodrich tires, one set per race (Courtesy of BFGoodrich tires)
· Ten entry fee waivers (Courtesy of SCCA Pro Racing)
“I had an advantage in that I had lost the shootout two years ago," said Shelton. "The advantage came from the constructive feedback from the judges. It took me two seasons to win another championship, but once I qualified I was determined to nail every possible category.
"I'm thrilled that after almost two decades of club racing, I'm going to really test myself in 2011 against professional drivers and teams. The fact that this year's competition was held at a test track added a unique twist. I'm grateful to Mazda and BFG for staging such a great shootout. Thanks to everyone at RDR and Mothers for helping me win the championship that qualified me for the shootout.”