Mazda MX-5 Cup Racers
Mazda has announced the ten drivers from the United States that will be racing in the new Mazda MX-5 Cup Global Invitational. The competition will take place at Laguna Seca and will pit some promising talent against each.
The MX-5 may not be the fastest sports car, but it is always a lot of fun to watch the roadsters battle it out on the track. There is also often a bit of contact, which is one reason that many call racing versions of the MX-5, Piñatas instead of Miatas.
Below are the ten drivers from the US and a bit about each. You’ll also find the lineup of drivers from around the globe that will also race.
John Dean II, Sick Sideways Racing, Sebring, Florida
John Dean II is the defending Battery Tender MX-5 Cup Champion. His championship earned him a Mazda Road to 24 scholarship valued at $200,000 and the right to race in a Mazda Soul Red machine. John is the winningest racer in MX-5 Cup history. He has earned more pole positions and has led more laps than any other driver in the first eight races of 2016. In addition to being a driver, John is the owner of Sick Sideways Racing.
Mark Drennan, Winding Road Team TFB, San Jose, California
Mark Drennan currently sits as the top Rookie in points this season, amassing multiple podium finishes and two wins; he is seventh overall in points. Mark earned a reputation as being the racer to beat in the fierce world of Spec Miata with multiple championships. He is a corporate recruitment executive taking a sabbatical to pursue his racing dream full-time.
Robby Foley, Atlanta Motorsports Group, Randolph, New Jersey
Robby Foley won last year’s Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge which earned him a Mazda Road to 24 scholarship valued at $100,000 and the right to race in a Mazda Soul Red machine. Robby has scored two race wins so far in 2016. He balances his racing career while being a full-time mechanical engineering student at Auburn University.
Ara Malkhassian, ALARA Racing, Houston, Texas
Ara Makhassian has been a competitor and team owner (ALARA Racing) in the series since its inception in 2006. He currently holds the record for most races started and has scored multiple race wins. Drivers for ALARA Racing have won the series championship in both 2013 and 2014. Ara currently sits in second in the 2016 Championship points standings. ALARA stands for Al+Ara for Alison and Ara Malkhassian, the husband and wife team owners.
Glenn McGee, Sick Sideways Racing, Tampa, Florida
Glenn McGee began his racing journey in front of a computer screen. In the 2015 iRacing Mazda MX-5 Cup, McGee tied for the most poles, most wins, and most world record times, becoming one of two iRacing’s Mazda MX-5 Cup champion representatives in the 2015 Mazda’s Road to 24 Shootout. Glenn left the shootout with the $100,000 Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship.
Sarah Montgomery, ALARA Racing, Lafayette, Louisiana
Sarah Montgomery is a recent college graduate and is the only competitor in the 2016 Battery MX-5 Cup sponsored by a city, her hometown of Lafayette, Louisana. She’s been racing for a decade and started in dirt oval go karts when she was 10 before moving into Spec Miata. After four years of competing in Spec Miata, she moved to the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge in 2014. Since 2015, she has been racing with ALARA Racing in MX-5 Cup.
Tim Probert, ALARA Racing, Houston, Texas
Tim Probert has been racing in MX-5 Cup since the first season, always with ALARA Racing. In addition to MX-5 Cup, Tim races in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. He is a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive. Tim was born in the U.K, but calls Houston his home now.
Nathanial Sparks, Sick Sideways Racing
Nathanial Sparks has been “Mr. Consistency” in 2016 to lead the championship after eight of 12 races having scored multiple podium finishes. Nathanial started racing in late 2008 and quickly became one of the top Teen Mazda Challenge Spec Miata racers. He is a two-time Mazda Road to 24 Shootout Finalist. Nathanial joined MX-5 Cup as an independent team before joining Sick Sideways Racing.
Chris Stone, ALARA Racing, Salt Lake City, Utah
Chris Stone currently sits in second of the Rookie point standings behind Mark Drennan. Chris’ consistent and clean racing has allowed for a successful rookie year in the series. Chris started his racing career at age six in motorcycle and progressed to karts. Away from the track, Chris is the operations manager for LYFE Motorsports.
Aurora Straus, McCumbee-McAleer Racing, Cold Springs, New York
Aurora Straus is competing in her second season in MX-5 Cup with support from the Monticello Motor Club. When not racing, Aurora is a talented high school student who is looking to study both engineering and English in college. Among her non-driving talents, she is a singer and songwriter.
The Global Competitors: The nine international racers, selected and hosted by Mazda affiliates in Japan, Europe, and Australia, are as follows:
Oliver Allwood – United Kingdom
Erik Blixit – Sweden
Anthony Crawford – Australia
Kamil Franczak – Poland
Gabriele Gardel – Switzerland
Enami Kitahira – Japan
Moritz Kranz – Germany
Mike Sinclair – Australia
Yuui Tsutsumi – Japan
The Global Invitational races will happen from September 9th-11th. The event is part of Mazda’s exclusive weekend at Laguna Seca that features both the Mazda Road to Indy and the Mazda Road to 24.