MAZDA ROAD TO 24 SHOOTOUT SEMI-FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Four 2015 Formula Car Challenge competitors will have an opportunity to seek a $100,000 Mazda Scholarship for the 2016 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup.
Formula Car Challenge standouts Hunter Pickett, Michael Avansino, Tazio Ottis, and Joseph Burton-Harris are among 23 semi-finalists selected for this year's Mazda Road to 24 Shootout. The Mazda Road to 24 Shootout is the single largest prize in grassroots motorsports. Launched in 2006 as the Club Racer shootout, the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout has annually promoted one talented club racer into the professional ranks. The $100,000 scholarship package supports a drive in the 2016 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup. For 2016, this will be in the all-new Global MX-5 Cup car.
The criteria for the shootout is to identify the aspiring professional racer who has the best range of skills required to succeed. These skills include speed, consistency, race craft, technical feedback and off-track business, marketing and PR skills.
John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports, noted: “Our annual shootout has become a signature event for Mazda Motorsports. This year, faced with dozens of worthy candidates, we worked with our key partners at the SCCA, NASA, iRacing and other industry experts to identify those racers with the greatest potential to succeed on the professional level. This promises to be our best-ever shootout, as none of the eligible racers have raced a fourth-generation MX-5. Only a handful of racers have even tested it. That will quickly change as we have more than 70 deposits from racers ready to compete with us in the 2016 MX-5 Cup.”
"Our series and drivers really appreciate really appreciate the amount of investment both in time and money that Mazda makes in the sport we all love,” stated Formula Car Challenge Official Jeff Loge. “This opportunity, along with the recently announced Mazda Road to Indy scholarship shows the kind of investment Mazda is making in talented up-and-coming racers ” In 2013 two Formula Car Challenge racers TJ Fischer and Michael Whelden made it to the final six in the shootout.
To advance to the next level, the 23 semi-finalists will submit a business proposal and a short video presentation from which the finalists will be selected. It is anticipated that there will be six to eight finalists. A final shootout will be held at Carolina Motorsports Park, in Kershaw, South Carolina in November. The racers will be tested on the track for their driving skills and in the garage for their technical understanding of the sport. This is a winner-take-all competition; there is no second place.
The Mazda Road to 24 is a Mazda Motorsports program that provides a series of scholarships supporting drivers up a well-defined racing ladder to reach the ultimate level in sports car racing in North America. The Mazda Road to 24 joins the similar Mazda Road to Indy program, which offers scholarships for drivers in open-wheel racing. The two programs are a prime example of the depth and breadth of Mazda Motorsports involvement in creating the next generation of superstars. This year, Mazda will award more than $2,340,000 in scholarships to winning drivers in sports cars and open wheel categories.
For social media, the #MRT24 hashtag will be featured, matching the similar hashtag of #MRTI for the open-wheel categories.
The semi-finalists for 2015 are:
- Joshua Allan – NASA PTD West Champion
- Ben Anderson – NASA PTE West Champion
- Michael Avansino – Formula Car Challenge FormulaSPEED
- Joseph Burton-Harris – SCCA Formula Mazda National Champion
- Bruno Carneiro – At Large Nominee
- Mark Drennen – NASA Spec Miata Champion
- Richard Eklund – iRacing Champion
- Mason Filippi – NASA Teen Challenge (West Coast)
- Jonathan Goring – SCCA Runoffs Sped Miata Champion
- Jason Kohler – NASA PTE East Champion
- Ethan Loree – NASA Teen Challenge (Rocky Mountain)
- Alex Mayer – At Large Nominee
- Glenn McGee – iRacing Champion
- Tazio Ottis – Formula Car Challenge Formula Mazda
- Hunter Pickett – Formula Car Challenge Pro Formula Mazda
- Eric Powell – At Large Nominee
- Matthew Powers – NASA Race of Champions
- Matt Reynolds – At Large Nominee
- Will Rodgers – At Large Nominee
- Michai Stephens – At Large Nominee
- Deriann Taylor – NASA Teen Challenge (Texas)
- Jon Van Canegham – NASA Super Unlimited Champion (West)
- Cal Vandaalen – Canadian Spec Miata Champion