The 2020 Spec MX-5 Challenge is building on its success and learning in its inaugural 2018/2019 seasons to create one of the strongest new amateur race series ever. There is a new car, new race event types and new partnerships with SCCA, NASA and sponsors. The Spec MX-5 Challenge tradition of a Championship with significant prizes is continuing, but there are new ways to get there, as we explain in this article.
Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship Prizing
The Spec MX-5 Championship will offer an expected $100,000 in prize money as well as a shot at the Mazda Road To 24 Shootout. A $50,000 scholarship prize is guaranteed to the Championship winner, to be used for approved racing opportunities (including club racing or pro racing in a Mazda) in 2021. As the prize fund grows with participation, additional driver awards will be offered.
Qualifying For The Championship
The 2020 Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship will be held at Circuit of The Americas, in Austin, from November 5-8. There are three primary ways to qualify for the championship, each of which is designed to be exciting and full of learning opportunities:
• two Regional Series,
• a National Series, and
• Invitational opportunities.
Each of these — Regional, National and Invitational — are part of a suite of 10 Marquee events, bringing competitors in the different competitions together to ensure large car count and learning opportunities.
While drivers will be on track together, points are awarded separately for Regional, National and Invitational competitions. Each type of competition is set up to allow drivers to earn carryover points, which are then added to points scored at the Championship to determine the ultimate winner. The points system for each type of competition is detailed below. By using different scoring systems aimed at the same carryover points magnitude, the series allows drivers who are attracted to the distinct competitions to come together for a unified championship and compete on a relatively level playing field.
Winning The Championship
The Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship will bring together the top points scoring drivers from the East Regional, West Regional and National Series and the five Invitational winners, all of whom bring carryover points. The two races at the Championship will provide additional points, and the driver with the top points total (carryover + Championship race 1 + Championship race 2) will be declared the winner of the Championship prize.
The Championship is slated for November 2020 at Circuit of The Americas, after the SCCA Runoffs and NASA Championships.
East and West Regional Series
The Regional Series are designed to appeal to drivers who want to compete on familiar tracks with a limited tow distance. These drivers may or may not intend to compete in the championship. These drivers may do their own logistics and mechanical work, or may engage a race shop to provide arrive & drive services.
If Regional Series drivers do want to compete in the Championship, they may do so once they have registered their points by submitting race results and paying an administrative fee. Regional drivers will earn one point for each race run, so all Regional drivers can qualify for the Championship. In addition, in each race Regional drivers earn 10 points for first place, 9 for second, 8 for third, 7 for fourth, 6 for fifth, and so on among regional drivers in each race run. The best six races per driver will be scored to generate a carryover points total.
To earn enough points to be competitive at the championships, Regional drivers therefore must compete in a minimum of three events in either the East Region or the West Region. Depending on results, running more events may allow them to maximize their carryover points for the championship event.
East Region Preliminary Schedule
April: Summit Point Raceway (SCCA)
May: VIRginia International Raceway (SCCA)
June: Charlotte Motor Speedway (SCCA)
July: Watkins Glen International or Road America (SCCA, pending exact dates)
July: Road Atlanta (SCCA)
August: Sebring International (SCCA)
West Region Preliminary Schedule
April: Thunderhill Raceway (NASA)
Summer: west coast track (TBD)
September: Sonoma Raceway (NASA)
September/October: Buttonwillow Raceway Park or Willow Springs Raceway
Each event is expected to hold two Spec MX-5 Challenge points races and provide at least two additional races in alternative run groups, so that racers can “double dip” for a total of four or more races per weekend.
The National Series is designed for drivers who want to run at five of the best pro tracks in the country. It is intended for drivers who want arrive & drive services.
National drivers score points among National Series drivers in their best 9 races run during the regular season. They are then ranked, and the top driver carries over 66 points, the second best 65, and so on. National Series automatically qualify for the Spec MX-5 Challenge championship.
National Series drivers will run with Regional Series drivers at:
• VIRginia International Raceway
• Watkins Glen International/Road America
• Road Atlanta
• Sonoma Raceway
• West Coast track to be determined
National Championship drivers will own their own cars and be provided with full arrive & drive services, provided by Winding Road Racing and potentially selected other race shops. Drivers interested in applying for the Spec MX-5 Challenge National Series must fill out the application form here.
Invitational Driver Option
Invitationals are designed for talented drivers who have a special story as part of their background. Drivers can run a single event and still qualify for the Championship. Drivers do not need to own their own cars, because full arrive & drive services, including a rental car, are part of this package.
Drivers will earn points by finishing position in each of two races, as well as for various forms of teamwork. The highest points total for each weekend among Invitational drivers will determine the five Invitational winners, as well as Invitational P2 and P3. The P1, P2 and P3 finishers in each event qualify for the championship. Their points carry over to the Spec MX-5 Challenge championship.
Five Marquee events (two West, three East) play host to Invitational drivers, providing a way for drivers to run a single Spec MX-5 Challenge Marquee event to qualify for the championship. Accepted drivers will be invited to run single marquee events at:
• Summit Point
•Thunderhill Raceway Park
• Charlotte Motor Speedway
• Sebring International
• Buttonwillow Raceway or Willow Springs Raceway
Drivers with an interest in running an Invitational may apply here. Drivers who are accepted will be provided with full arrive-and-drive services (by Winding Road Racing and potentially other race shops), including the all-new Spec MX-5 race car.