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Racers, Teams And Prospects Come Together For 2022 Plans

Last night, Mazda Motorsports and Spec MX-5 Challenge, LLC held a call with several Spec MX-5 racers, teams and prospects to discuss the program’s growth.

Member’s of the West Region Spec MX-5 Challenge community came together last night to talk all things 2022. See the recap below.

SPEC MX-5 CONFERENCE CALL RECAP – SEPT 2, 2022

Last night, Mazda Motorsports and Spec MX-5 Challenge, LLC held a call with several Spec MX-5 racers, teams and prospects to discuss the program’s growth.

The highlights:

Anna Osburn, who runs the operations and promotions for Spec MX-5 Challenge, LLC highlighted five key areas:

  • The series’ desire to expand the West Coast Region schedule next year from five marquee events prior to the championship to six. This is based on the many recent additions of drivers and teams to the West Region (more on this below)
  • The desire to host the championship event in the central part of the U.S for 2022
  • Opportunities and desire for the series and Mazda Motorsports to promote the SMX drivers and teams, recommending they connect with her
  • She has polished the point system framework (no changes to how points are accrued, averaged, etc.) found here to make consumption of the information easier
  • She is excited to be on hand at the championship event held at the SCCA ARRC event November 5-7. Mazda Motorsports will join Anna along with a hired tech team. Allen Berg, father to Mazda factory club racing driver, will help host the series banquet (details TBA). Look for great camaraderie, competition, fun podium celebrations and big checks written. aosburn@windingroad.com

David Cook, who runs Mazda’s grassroots racing program, shared:

  • The appreciation for everyone involved in building Spec MX-5, in particular the early adopters of the series – the racers and teams – and Toyo as it has beat out five tire manufacturers in on-track testing to be awarded the spec tire for the 2022 season (due to consistency, reliability, great contingency awards and more)
  • The excitement for the recent additions of four new West Coast teams, growing from two this year to at least six next season
  • The benefits of the series, which many can be found here (includes free set of Penske single-adjustable shocks, free set of Toyo Tires, 25% off the Mazda build kit and more)
  • Wyatt Couch, series competitor, has been named a nominee for this year’s MX-5 Cup Shootout, congratulating him on a great season on and off-track
  • For those interested in purchasing a build kit from Mazda, please reach out to Mazda Motorsports at (800)435-2508 Monday – Friday 6:30 am PT – 3:30 pm PT. Mazda Motorsports carries most parts needed for the SMX, but some parts, such as the cage, Mazda Motorsports does not. Mazda Motorsports recommends MiataCage.com. dcook13@mazdausa.com

On the West Coast this year, the series has two top prep shops supporting SMX cars – Haag Performance run by Mike Haag and Village Blacksmith Race Development run by George Clos.

  • Haag Performance, based in Sacramento, Calif., led by Mike Haag, has been building Mazda race cars and engines for many years. Haag Performance was selected to run Mazda’s two club racing factory drivers in Spec MX-5 this season, while also supporting other racers’ such as Ricardo Arruda and Adam Gonzalez. Haag Performance will add a new build to its fleet for 2022.  Mike Haag mike@haagperformance.com / cell: (925)783-9409
  • Village Blacksmith Race Development, based in Denver, Co, led by George Clos, has been building race cars for 40 years and Mazda’s for 15. He has built several Spec MX-5s with more in the works. While based in the Southwest Region, George made the trek to several California events, generously offering help to others while supporting his own SMX cars.  George Clos georgeclossr@gmail.com / c: (847)366-5259

In addition to these top prep shops, two racers in the West Region series have acquired, or are about to, a second SMX build kit to support an additional driver.

  • Mike Travers, based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is a series racers and car builder, who has acquired a second SMX build kits this past month. michaeltravers2@msn.com
  • Wyatt Couch, based in El Dorado Hills, Calif., one of club racing’s top competitors and a NASA Teen Mazda Challenge driver, is about to acquire a second car to run a teammate. He may be in MX-5 Cup next year as he is now a nominee for Mazda’s MX-5 Cup Shootout.  wyattcouch@yahoo.com

In the last month, several teams joined the series by purchasing one, or multiple, Spec MX-5 build kits.

  • BlueLine Racers Group, based in Wilton, Calif., led by Craig Evans, a retired police officer with 22 years of service, has supported top Spec Miata racers for years as a prep shop. BlueLine Racers Group has acquired two SMX build kits and is making the transition to focus on Spec MX-5 in 2022 and beyond.  Craig Evans bluelineracersgroup@gmail.com / c: (916)804-1257
  • Charlie Hayes Racingbased in Sonoma, Calif., led by Charlie Hayes, longtime pro racer and team, acquired the assets from another top race team – TFB Performance – this past year, and has acquired an SMX build kit this past month, looking to move to a two- or three-car SMX team for 2022.  Charlie@charliehayesracing.com / c: (925)260-4148
  • Morning Star Racing, based in Ventura, Calif., led by James Brown and Brett Becker, are acquiring one Spec MX-5 build kit at this time with the possibility of more prior to the 2022 season. James is a former director of NASA’s Teen Mazda Challenge and Brett is the main contributor for NASA’s SpeedNews james@msrmotorsports.com / c: (805)651-9797
  • Brad Austin’s teambased in Vacaville, Calif., is also looking to transition into Spec MX-5 for the 2022 season and build two SMX race cars. Brad is a USTCC racer and team principal: tellbrad@gmail.com / c: (707)685-2800

Growing from two teams to six or more teams + independent racers is more than Mazda could have hoped for. With these additions coming in August, the series should be in good shape for the builds to become race cars in time for next season. As Craig Evans noted during last night’s call, “New builds take time and it’s wise not to wait long to decide to join the class.”

Wes Mollno and Todd Launchbaugheach based in Los Angeles County, are top racers and longtime Spec Miata racers. Mazda Motorsports asked Wes and Todd to be the regional leads for the competitors in 2021 and once again in 2022. Mazda is most thankful for Wes’ and Todd’s assistance and leadership. Last night, Wes focused on camaraderie and commented about tire consumption to better support the racing community. Todd shared his appreciation for Chris Nunes, recent MX-5 Cup Shootout scholarship recipient and MX-5 Cup race winner, joining the West Region events as a coach for the series competitors.

Lisa Caceresbased in Sonoma, Calif., is a leader for NASA’s NorCal region, focused on the largest and most competitive NASA Teen Mazda Challenge group in the country, as well as consultant to Mazda Motorsports and owner of Race Karts, Inc. Lisa spoke about her passion for mentoring hardworking racers dedicated to making a career in the sport. Lisa was a sponsored, pro racer for several years.

During Q&A, AJ Zarcone, star 14-year-old karter and Spec Miata racer who is transitioning to Spec MX-5 – Shared that he will have his SMX build finished next month and at the track testing, offering others interested to test the car the ability to do so for only paying the entry fee for the track day. You may email jzarc13@aol.com or call/text (702) 809-3936.  AJ is just another great example of why the Spec MX-5 community is truly special.

A parting sentiment shared by David Cook, last night: “To make this all possible, we have to pay tribute to the early adopters of the series: Richard James, Ricardo Arruda, Bruno Carneiro, Wes Mollno, Bryson Morris, Alex Berg, Todd Launchbaugh, Andrew Clos, Adam Gonzalez, and Wyatt Couch all competed this in the West Region this year, along with the teams, we appreciate your investment and trust in us.”

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