Tuesday, January 5, 2021 by Eliane Gilain
Last fall, the organizers of the Mazda MX-5 Cup series announced that their series would henceforth be sanctioned by IMSA, an entity which includes the premier series of Endurance in the United States; the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
For IMSA, it is not a first to sanction a one-make series since the Porsche GT3 Cup (which this year becomes the North American Carrera Cup), the Ferrari Challenge or even the North American Lamborghini Super Trofeo. After the announcement of the arrival of the one-make Mazda series in its fold, IMSA has published the 2021 calendar for its series and, unsurprisingly, the Mazda MX-5 Cup will now follow IMSA’s events on the most prestigious North American tracks. In all, the series will shine in 7 events, for a total of 14 races.
No doubt, being sanctioned by the IMSA is a serious boost for a national series that wants to be better known to the general public. Witness to this, the first event of the season will take place in a few weeks at Daytona International Speedway, as part of the most coveted race of the season for many competitors: the 24 Hours of Daytona.
After having been the sponsor of the Roat To Indy series for the North American single-seater series, Mazda Motorsports has now created the Mazda Road to 24 program, which echoes the single-seater sector but for the Endurance series. Thus, the drivers participating in the Mazda MX-5 Cup this year and who win the championship in their respective category will receive a scholarship of US$200,000 to invest in their motorsport career. This with a view to helping young people to climb the ladder of the Endurance discipline which offers more professional career opportunities in our time than single-seaters.
For John Doonan, president of IMSA and former director of the motorsport program at Mazda North America, it is essential to give young recruits a chance: « One of the principles on which IMSA was founded has more than 5 decades is to have a platform comprising several series that allow riders, mechanics, engineers and teams to access the highest level of racing, and to do so in a profitable way”. He goes on to say that: “there is no doubt that the MX-5 Cup championship corresponds to this principle desired by IMSA”.
« The action at the MX-5 Cup races is thrilling, and it is an ideal springboard series for the next generation of riders, » said Doonan, who also elaborates on the commercial aspect of the approach. « The MX-5 Cup and IMSA enable brand growth as well as guest and customer entertainment, which provides a very good return on investment. »
After daytona, the series will have its second event in Florida, but this time on the sidelines of IndyCar, in the streets of St-Petersburg. Afterwards, Mid-Ohio will host the third event, where the MX-5s will return to the IMSA series. Then, if the borders are reopened, then we should see them land at Mosport in early July. After Road America, the series will travel to California, Laguna Seca and finally Road Atlanta, where the season will end.
Here is the full schedule:
Races 1 & 2: January 27-29, Daytona International SpeedwayRaces 3 & 4: March 3 and 4, Saint-Petersburg Grand Prix Races 5 & 6: May 14-16, Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseRaces 7 & 8: July 2-4, Canadian Tire Motorsport ParkRaces 9 & 10: August 6 to 8, Road AmericaRaces 11 & 12: September 10 to 12, Laguna SecaRaces 13 & 14: October 6 to 9, Road Atlanta