Austin, Texas, September 19th, 2023 – Spec MX-5 Challenge, LLC. is proud to announce that the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has adopted Spec MX-5 (SMX) to become a national class within the United States’ largest club racing organization from 2024 onwards. Founded by Tom Martin at the end of 2017, Spec MX-5 Challenge presented by Toyo Tires has prided itself as THE Driver Development Series, seeing numerous drivers climb up the club racing ladder to become paid professional racers.
The conceptual idea of a spec series utilizing the Mazda MX-5 (NC-platform) dates back to 2015 with Sean Hedrick, MiataCage Founder & Chair of the Spec Miata Advisory Committee, and David Cook, former Mazda Motorsports Business Development Manager. As MX-5 Cup transitioned from the NC to the ND MX-5, Hedrick approached Cook with the idea of a grassroots spec series using the NC chassis. In early 2018, an opportunity developed to work alongside Tom Martin’s Spec MX-5 Challenge Series.
In late 2017, Martin was searching for a proper car to bridge the gap from Spec Miata (NA/NB-platform) to IMSA’s Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires, Tom Martin settled on the 3rd generation Mazda MX-5 (NC-platform) to be the choice car to develop for his new spec racing series. With Hedrick & Mazda Motorsports’ technical guidance, Martin created the Spec MX-5 Challenge Series, where both young and gentlemen drivers alike would flock to, seeking to gain experience before making the jump to professional racing. “We have worked hard to make Spec MX-5 a special class, with benefits and personal attention that attract a variety of drivers into a class with excellent competition and camaraderie,” explained Tom Martin. “The recognition of SMX as a National class is a great next step toward one of the great classes in SCCA racing.”
“This is a big milestone for Mazda Motorsports’ grassroots racing program,” said Josh Smith, Business Development Manager at Mazda Motorsports. “Becoming an SCCA National Class opens up participation to more drivers at more tracks and fills a gap between Spec Miata and MX-5 Cup. Spec Miata is hugely successful, but as parts are harder to come by for the NA and NB models, maintaining the cars will become more expensive. We want to ensure the future of Mazda’s popularity in grassroots racing and we’re backing it up with a seven-figure investment in SMX.”
Spec MX-5 has prided itself on offering a path for both entry level and experienced club racers to compete as either a destination series (like Spec Miata), or as a step to IMSA in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires®. With racer’s ages ranging from 15 to 68, Spec MX-5 Challenge Series has been able to provide an option for all racers. Spec MX-5 Challenge Series Manager Justin Cornelison remarked, “Since I met Tom last year and took the reins of Spec MX-5 Challenge Series, it’s been an honor and a privilege to not only be a part of the series, but also to help shape and elevate what club racing should be.” Cornelison continued, “seeing our 2022 National Champion Thomas Annunziata have incredible success at the next level in both MX-5 Cup & Trans Am, plus the progression of our current racers, makes me feel incredibly proud.”
“An important aspect of the Spec MX-5 series is the preparation of both drivers & teams for the professional level. We will continue to focus on the development of our competitors, as we transition from a standalone series to the SCCA’s adoption of SMX as a national class.”
Since founding the series, it’s been Martin’s aim to have his brainchild become an SCCA national class – the first since Spec Miata was adopted back in 2006. With almost sixty drivers registered for 2023, Spec MX-5 Challenge Series has enjoyed a meteoric rise with growing interest nationwide, and he is thrilled to pass the baton to the SCCA.