IRVINE, Calif. (Nov. 2, 2009) - The fact that more people road-race Mazdas on any given weekend means that Mazda has a very large talent pool from which to draw. For the fourth-consecutive year, Mazda will assist one talented racer 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.
Five drivers were chosen from an initial group of 13, after a team of nine independent judges - all motorsports professionals - reviewed submitted business proposals, and ranked them for their potential ability to master the business side of the sport. Representing Sports Car Club of America in the final five are 2009 SCCA Formula Enterprises National Champion Nick Evans, of Oxford, Ohio, and 2009 SCCA Spec Miata National Champion Steven Gorriaran, of Providence, R.I.
The five finalists will come together at Buttonwillow Raceway on Tuesday, Nov. 17, where they will be evaluated in a wide variety of categories including lap speed consistency, technical feedback, and business and PR skills.
"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," MAZDASPEED Motorsports Competition Manager Steve Sanders said. "Our three previous winners, Andrew Caddell, Brad Rampelberg and Justin Piscitell, all proved themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt on the pro level. Our intention is to help support the next up-and-coming talent."
Of the 9,000 enrolled members of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports program, over 200 qualified for either the SCCA Runoffs or the NASA National Championships. Ten Mazda powered racers won championships at those events. Two teens won a NASA sanctioned Spec Miata teen challenge series, while an additional racer was rated as the best within the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge MX-5 school race series, thus a baker's dozen of 13 were eligible to submit proposals for consideration.
Mazda is the brand of choice for road-racers across North America. More than 9,000 grassroots racers compete in various classes with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Racers who are years away from earning a driver's license can now begin a professional motorsports careers in the Mazda family. A driver can begin in karts and progress through the Skip Barber series, Club Racing Formula Mazda, professional Star Mazda and finally to Formula Atlantic, all with Mazda. No other car company has ever connected the dots this way.
Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the United States in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.