It’s that time of year for the annual MRT24 Shootout, where a winner takes home a $100,000 scholarship toward the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Series next season. This year’s venue was a new one for the event, the Michelin (and BF Goodrich) proving grounds just south of their U.S. headquarters in Greenville, S.C.
Because this is a private facility, none of the Shootout drivers had seen the circuit before. They got to utilize the new 2020 spec sequential gearboxes that the series will be running next year, so that was new for everyone, too.
There were six finalists who attended the event, all with very strong racing backgrounds. There was a lot diversity among them in age and racing disciplines.
The first day consisted of extensive interviews with all of the finalists to understand their business plans and to get to know them a little better before a busy track schedule the next day. On that second day, there were two identically-prepared Global MX-5 Cup cars for the finalists to drive, and we were lucky enough to have perfect weather (especially for December!).
The drivers received introductions to the circuit and the car at the beginning of the day, before the on-track activity commenced. Throughout the day not only were they judged on their on-track performance, but they were also evaluated on their data review and driver feedback.
Later in the day, two finalists were chosen to compete in a final session. After that, it was time for the judges to debate and determine the winner! Following an intense two days for the finalists, Jared Thomas was the winner of the $100,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete in the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup Series next season. It was a very close contest, and it was really exciting to see the skill level of the finalists!