October 6, 2020 — Mazda Motorsports, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Toyo Tires are excited to announce the 24 go-karters nominated to represent Mazda’s first factory club racing team to compete in the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series in 2021 as Teen Mazda Challenge racers.
The 24 racers will have the opportunity to submit a proposal, sharing why they should be selected to compete in the two-day Spec MX-5 Shootout later this year. A panel of judges will evaluate the proposals to select six to nine go-karters to compete on- and off-track at the Shootout. Of those finalists, two will be selected to become Mazda’s first club racing factory team — supported and groomed by the Mazda-designated race team, Mazda’s Prototype driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class Jonathan Bomarito, and the Mazda Motorsports team.
“NASA’s Teen Mazda Challenge and an original equipment manufacturer like Mazda providing the resources to create a factory racing team at the amateur level are unprecedented in all of motorsports,” said NASA Vice President Jeremy Croiset. “These young drivers represent the highest levels of talent in kart racing, and we at NASA are proud to partner with Mazda to give these karting stars another rung on the ladder into professional motorsports. We wish them all the best as they vie for a spot in the Shootout.”
To find the next generation of talent, Mazda turned to several prominent industry professionals: eKarting News, Max Papis, Buddy Rice, Chris Wheeler, Jared Thomas, and others. Go-karters will become nominees for the Shootout either by winning a select championship or as an at-large bid. Nominees will be evaluated through a virtual process to determine the top six to nine karters who will move on to the Shootout to be held at a racetrack yet to be announced. During the Shootout, each karter will be interviewed by a panel of industry pros, as well as compete on track in Spec MX-5 cars. At the conclusion of these two days, Mazda’s first two-car club racing factory team will be created.
Jenson Altzman, Phoenix, AZ
Alexander Berg, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Alex Bertagnoli, Village of Lakewood, IL
John Burke, Carollton, TX
Oliver Calvo, Stockton, CA
Jake Drew, Fullerton, CA
Hayden Jones, Wake Forest, NC
Devon Smith Harden, Columbus, IN
Matthew Mockabee, Dayton/Centerville, OH
Annie Rhule, Pittsburgh, PA
Vicente Salas, Temecula, CA
Ryan Shehan, Houston, TX
Evan Stamer, Glen Carbon, IL
Alex Stanfield, Dallas, TX
Westin Workman, Charlotte, NC
Violet Townsend, Ravenna, MI