Two weekends ago, the 2023 Spec MX-5 Challenge Series presented by Toyo Tires held its National Championship at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, during the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championship Runoffs as an exhibition class. Following the announcement of SMX becoming an SCCA National Championship eligible class for 2024, the excitement in the air was palatable.
After a rainy test day, the only qualifying session of the weekend took place under sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. Nathan Nicholson took the pole with a time of 2:11.439. Alex Bertagnoli, Noah Harmon, Chase Jones, and Nico Bratz rounded out the top five, setting the stage for an epic battle in race one.
Unfortunately, race one was cut short as a first-lap racing incident with Will Robusto and Nathan Saxon led to the clock being run out under a full course caution for track repairs. Results for the race reverted to the qualifying order, per series sporting regulations, giving Nicholson a hollow win as the thoughts of everyone were with Robusto and Saxon, wishing them a continued speedy recovery.
Race two was the weekend’s final race, taking place Sunday afternoon. Nicholson started on the pole and looked to be opening up a lead with Bertagnoli and Harmon nose-to-tail, but the field was not quite ready to acquiesce the win quite yet. Westin Workman worked his way up to Chase Jones, and soon, the group of three was five.
The next few laps constantly reshuffled the top five with some of the tightest, cleanest racing of the season. With six laps to go, Workman made a move for the lead over Nicholson in the Rollercoaster and made it stick. Cam Ebben moved into fifth place, and Reid Sweeney had an amazing save after an off-track excursion.
As Nicholson, Harmon, and Bertagnoli fought, Workman extended his lead. As the laps ticked up, the contest for second heated up with Nicholson and Harmon. On the penultimate lap, the racing became too close, and Nicholson spun, with Ebben somehow able to avoid him spinning across the track.
The checkered flag saw Workman in first, Bertagnoli in second, Harmon in third, Ebben in Fourth, and Squirek in fifth place. Post-race penalties moved Harmon to fifth, Ebben to third, and Squirek to fourth.
With more than $130,000 in prizes awarded on Sunday, here is how things shook out:
- $1,500 each to Grant Stoneberg and Kirk Haag for Crew Members of the Year courtesy of PAGID Racing
- $2,000 awarded to each driver who participated in the national championship race
- $2,000 to Don Squirek for Race 2 Hard Charger
- $1,000 to Nathan Saxon for Move of the Year courtesy of MiataCage, and a Mazda parts credit to Don Squirek as runner-up
The 2023 Regular Season Prize Winners:
- $1,000 to Alex Bertagnoli (5th place)
- $2,000 to Noah Harmon (4th place)
- $3,000 to Nathan Saxon (3rd place)
- $4,000 to Westin Workman (2nd place)
- $5,000 to Nathan Nicholson (1st place)
The 2023 National Championship Prize Winners:
- $5,000 to Adrian Comstock (Masters Champion)
- $5,000 to Cam Ebben (5th place)
- $7,500 to Noah Harmon (4th place)
- $10,000 to Nathan Nicholson (3rd place)
- $20,000 to Westin Workman (2nd place)
- $30,000 to Alex Bertagnoli (1st place Champion)
We hope our racers, teams, and families had a fun & successful 2023 season with Spec MX-5. We’d like to say thank you to both the SCCA and VIR for hosting our National Championship during the 60th running of the Runoffs.
We also extend our sincere gratitude to our partners Toyo Tires, PAGID Racing, and AiM Data – we wouldn’t have been able to provide a fantastic Series without your continued support.
Winding Road Racing & Mazda Motorsports have strived to provide an elevated club racing experience since 2018. Spec MX-5 is incredibly excited to transition from a stand-alone series to an SCCA National Championship eligible class for 2024 – stay tuned!