Mazda MX-5 Cup race car
The Mazda booth at the 2017 Silicon Valley Auto Show at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center featured a “spec” race car that competed in the 2016 Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup series presented by BF Goodrich.
The MX-5 Cup which began in 2016 is the first rung in the “Mazda Road to 24” which is the sports car equivalent to the “Mazda Road to Indy” open-wheel ladder series. The champion of the MX-5 series receives a $200,000 scholarship to race in either the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge or Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda. The final rung on the “Mazda Road to 24” ladder is the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Mazda factory-owned race team.
The 2017 Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich schedule features eight racing weekends with two races each weekend at venues that include Barber Motorsports Park, the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. In 2016 the series was sanctioned by the SCCA but in 2017 it will be overseen by INDYCAR officials.
Mazda MX-5 Cup race cars start life as MX-5 passenger cars built in the company’s Hiroshima, Japan factory before shipment to Mazda’s engineering development partner Long Road Racing in Statesville, North Carolina. There the car is gutted and fitted with a full roll cage and according to Mazda, more than 250 motorsports-specific parts. The Mazda SKYACTIV 2.0 liter engines are sealed “to ensure even competition and a cost-effective platform.”
This Winding Road Racing sponsored MX-5 was driven in 2016 by San Jose’s Mark Drennan, who began his racing career in the nineteen nineties with “sim racing” (computer gaming) for six years before he advanced to driving karts and the spec Miata racing series. Mark who as the series “Rookie of the Year” finished seventh in the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Cup standings with two race wins lists his hobbies as “winning, beer and bacon” (hopefully not at the same time)