Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

2010 MazdaSPEED Development Awards

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted August 5, 2010 at 11:03 am open wheel racing news

The 2010 MazdaSPEED Development Ladder Awards were announced earlier this week.

  • A Mazda-powered club racer will be awarded a ride in the 2011 Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.
  • The 2010 Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup champion will be awarded a ride in a MAZDASPEED3 in the 2011 Continental Tire Challenge Series.
  • Two karting champions will be awarded rides in the 2011 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Championship, after a multi-day shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in December.
  • The 2010 Skip Barber National champion will be awarded a ride in the 2011 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
  • The 2010 USF2000 champion will be awarded a ride in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship.  Introduced in 2010, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is the newest series within the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder.  Both the Star Mazda and USF2000 Championships also are a part of the Road to Indy.
  • The 2010 Star Mazda champion will be awarded a full-season ride in a Mazda RX-8 in the 2011 Grand-Am GT Championship.

The awards are great, it’s just unfortunate that a driver will be brought all the way up through the open-wheel ranks and then be put in a tin-top to compete in the Grand-Am GT Championship.  Not that there is anything wrong with that award, it would be fantastic if your goal is to race in the Grand-Am Series, but for this group of kids, that’s rarely the case.  Most, if not all, have aspirations of racing an open-wheel car full-time in a top-tier series.  I assumed the RX-8 ride would be the final prize this season, as it was last year, but I was hoping they would leave the option open for drivers to take the funding elsewhere.

It’s likely the folks with the “Road to Indy” and the “MazdaSPEED Development Ladder” will be working together this off-season to find a “fix” for the top-rung.  It would be great to see the Star Mazda champion awarded a full-time Indy Lights ride.

Plus, as I mentioned before, I believe the funding should be spread between the top-two or top-three drivers in each series.


One Comment

  1. NaBUru38 on August 5, 2010 6:50 pm

    It’s awsome that Mazda supports North American motorsport. However, in addition to the Star Mazda champion prize, there’s another thing that I don’t like: rookies are eligible. I believe that the Road to Indy ladder should encourage drivers to spend two full seasons on each step.

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