Photo: Al Arena – Ignite Media / Mazda Motorsports

Last week was the annual Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout, but this year there were several new additions to the event. Not only was it hosted at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for the first time (thanks to the BFGoodrich Tires series partnership), but there were also a multitude of scholarships available. Combined, the scholarship value totaled $250,000!

In the past, this event has been a Shootout for a $100,000 scholarship toward the upcoming Global MX-5 Cup season, but this year there were two additional scholarships up for grabs. One of the new scholarships is a women in motorsports initiative, which Savanna Little won. She is a Mazda newcomer who competed in a Spec MX-5 this past season.

The other new scholarship was awarded in support of an up-and-coming new driver. Winner Chris Nunes is a young Southern California driver who competed in the Teen Mazda Challenge and impressed everyone at the Shootout with his pace and all-around interpersonal skills.

The overall winner of the $100,000 scholarship was Aaron Jeansonne. He also competed in the Shootout last year, coming in as the runner-up. He spent his 2020 race season in Spec MX-5 and had a really successful year.

In fact, there was a Spec MX-5 Shootout happening at the same time as the MX-5 Cup Shootout. Karting drivers competed for the chance to win a scholarship to compete in Spec MX-5 next season. Ultimately, there were two winners.

In all, there were five winners at Road Atlanta last week out of the 18 participating drivers. The amount of scholarship money given at this event is unprecedented and unmatched by any other manufacturer. With so much talent getting ready to race their Mazdas next year, 2021 is shaping up to be a really exciting season.