The Mazda Road to 24 (MRT24) and Mazda Road to Indy (MRTI) Shootouts were held at the Bondurant Racing School in Phoenix, Arizona, last weekend. It was the first time that the event had been hosted at the Bondurant School, and it worked out really well. I was impressed with their facility, and their formula cars happen to be Formula Mazdas, so the MRTI competitors drove those for their Shootout.
For the sports car shootout, the MRT24, they used identical Global Mazda MX-5 Cup cars that Long Road Racing provided. The MRT24 Shootout was a one-day event, so there was a lot to figure out in a short amount of time. We had a lot of talent, and the field was narrowed down to four contestants for the on-track events. It was a tight field, and after lunch we narrowed it down to just two finalists. In a final round, we determined that Selin Rollan was the winner, so congratulations to him!
It’s neat knowing that Selin is also a salesman at the Classic Mazda Dealership in Orlando, Florida. He was also a runner-up in Spec Miata at both the SCCA Runoffs and the NASA Championships this year. Selin was awarded a $100,000 scholarship to compete in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Series next year.
Saturday and Sunday was the MRTI Shootout, which included 17 contestants from all over the world, with four different continents represented. They were all champions in their own right, and that really built up anticipation for the $200,000 scholarship for the 2018 USF2000 championship.
Most of the drivers had never driven the first generation of the Formula Mazda before, so they were adapting to the unique Bondurant circuit as well as the racecar. It made for a really exciting first day!
By the morning of the second day, it was time to make our first round of eliminations, where five finalists advanced to a qualifying and mock race shootout. The intensity was high the entire weekend, but this certainly took it to the next level.
These young drivers all put in an incredible performance, both on and off the track: they were all well-rounded, polished drivers. It made our decision extremely difficult, and it took an hour and a half for the judges to deliberate which contestant would be the winner. In the end, the winner was Keith Donegan from Ireland. It was exciting to see how genuinely elated he was about the win, and he had his family there to support him.
I’m excited to see what next season holds for these new scholarship winners as they pursue their young professional careers with Mazda!