The SCCA Runoffs was a great event – you can always feel the excitement of the 600 or so competitors who are there. Mazda was very well represented with just over 140 cars in the Runoffs this year!
I arrived at Daytona International Speedway last Tuesday, and I got started right away with the competitors’ forum for the Spec Miata class. I talked about the nuances of Daytona and the ability to draft there, and we discussed night racing since it was the first time in Runoffs history that Spec Miata would run under the lights.
Later that afternoon, Mazda set up the new 2016 Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car under their tent so competitors and fans alike could check it out and find out what’s to come. Exciting news: ordering will begin on October 1!
We had a digital track walk under the tent, too, so racers could get additional tips and advice. During that, we raffled off five slots for personalized coaching for the week. I ended up with a variety of drivers that I got to work with, ranging from Spec Miata to some of the production classes and even the GT classes.
Over the course of the week, I think I worked with about 20 racers in addition to those five raffle winners! The Runoffs has a lot of common trends among racers, and it was fun to get an inside look into so many programs and to give some insight to Mazda competitors.
Mazda hosted their annual dinner banquet Wednesday evening for all its competitors and their guests. It was an evening filled with great stories, special guests, awards and prizes. It’s a yearly tradition that is always memorable.
On Friday, the racing began! Friday evening was the much-anticipated Spec Miata race under the lights. It rained prior to the race, so the track was wet and it was a huge strategy call to decide whether to start on rain tires or dry tires.
My good friend and teammate Andrew Carbonell was starting on the pole for the race, and he was on dry tires. Some of his competitors on rains went to the front at the start, while Andrew settled into a spot just outside the top five.
Andrew bided his time while the track dried, and as the 14-lap race went on, you could see that the drivers on dry tires were moving up while the rain tires were starting to overheat. Just after lap 10, the lap times became even between the two tire choices.
Leading up to the last lap, there were four cars battling for the lead – two on rains and two on dry. It ended up being the two cars on dry tires that finished in the top two spots, with Andrew taking the runner-up position. It was such an exciting race that I was actually on my feet the entire time. Congrats to the entire Spec Miata field for great racing and no full-course cautions in those treacherous conditions! The fireworks after the race were the perfect end to the evening.
The rest of the weekend was also exciting. In F Production, Mazdas worked together and battled to make the race three-wide at the end!
Now I’m on to another busy week, this time at Road Atlanta for my second opportunity to compete in the Petit LeMans. Knowing how strong our cars were last year, we have high hopes for this week ahead. Come on out and see night practice on Thursday and ten hours of racing on Saturday!