Mazda Cup: Team MER announces driver lineup

Team MER Announces Driver Lineup for MX-5 Cup 1/18/06 -- Ft Worth, TX | Motorsport Enterprises Racing has announced their driver roster for the 2006 Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Hankook. Team MER, owned and operated by Jim Daniels and Shannon ...

Team MER Announces Driver Lineup for MX-5 Cup

1/18/06 -- Ft Worth, TX | Motorsport Enterprises Racing has announced their driver roster for the 2006 Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Hankook. Team MER, owned and operated by Jim Daniels and Shannon McMasters; instrumental figures in the creation of the extremely popular SpecMiata class; is poised to attack the inaugural season of this exciting new championship with a five-car assault. Featuring identically prepared 2006 Mazda MX-5's, the new televised series sets the standard for one-make racing in the United States and is the pinnacle of the Spec Miata concept. For more information on the series, visit www.mx5cup.com or www.mazdamotorsports.com.

Anchoring the team's driver lineup will be Jim Daniels and Jason Saini. The duo finished fourth and fifth respectively in last year's Pro Miata Cup, performances that didn't show their full potential for a variety of reasons. Daniels has been a front-runner in the SpecMiata class since its inception, with two wins in the prestigious ARRC race, as well as past history of wins and championships in everything ranging from Legends cars to SRF and SCCA Showroom Stock competition at the Valvoline Runoffs where he crossed the finish line first in the SSC class in 2004. "We're bringing together the best and the brightest with Team MER and won't settle for second-best," said Daniels. "With the talent we have on and off the track, we're excited about our chances."

Jason Saini is a two-time Solo2 National Champion who in only his second full year of road racing of any kind was a front runner in the Pro Miata Cup. With pole positions, podiums and fastest session times to his name, the young driver is ready to stake his claim as one of the hottest new road racers in the country; following in the footsteps of other past Solo2 National winning drivers such as Randy Pobst and Jeff Altenburg. "I'm very honored that Team MER has given me this opportunity, and I look forward to working with such a top-flight organization," says Saini. "Every car I've raced up until this point has been built in my own garage, so I'm excited to be representing such a stellar organization and have high hopes for the season."

Rounding out a diverse driver lineup will be Todd Lamb, the Editor of Speed Style and Sound magazine, Deborah Loth who will add a woman's touch and Erik Stearns, a past front-runner in the Pro Miata Cup ranks. Todd Lamb has vast experience from racing karts to Skip Barber Pro series racing to Speedvision Cup experience in a powerful Supra. While putting his mechanical engineering degree to task on the track, off the track Todd will also bring a wide range of promotional opportunities to the team including monthly articles on the series. Deborah Loth shifts gears from the high-horsepower world of racing Vipers to try her hand in the new MX-5. With Divisional Championships in SCCA T1 to her credit, Deb is among the exciting new wave of women in professional racing and should prove to be a factor. Erik Stearns may not have been racing for very long, but has racked up quite a bit of success and proved that he's a quick learner. After only racing for a couple seasons, he's regularly run at the front of Pro Miata Cup races, with several top-five performances in an incredibly tight field. Unfortunately, Team MER had to relinquish a top driver -- 2005 Miata Cup West Champion Justin Hall -- when Hall was tapped for a BMW ride in the SpeedWC Touring Car ranks for 2006. Hall will still be involved with MER, as an instructor for a SpecMiata based driver's school.

In addition to the five-car Team MER effort, Innovative Motorsports will field two MX5's prepared and maintained by Team MER. Realizing that they wanted to be associated with a top team in the paddock, Innovative Motorsports contracted MER to build cars for them. Driven by Brian Bailey who has Grand Am Cup experience and Jordon Musser, an international karting star, the two will be a factor in the championship as well. All told, there will be seven Team MER prepared cars on the grid for the season as of this writing.

About Team MER: Based at the Motorsports Ranch track in Ft. Worth, TX, the team is uniquely positioned to entertain media, corporate and sponsor events. The team owns and operates a fleet of Mazda6 school cars, which are available for driver training or corporate events. A new seven thousand square foot shop is under construction at the track, which will feature a chassis dyno, classrooms, as well as a full racing shop and showroom. Team partners include Huffaker Engineering, Saferacer.com, Speed Style and Sound magazine, Motul fluids, Hawk Brakes, RaceTech seats, and AIM data acquisition. Additional product and associate sponsor deals are in the works and will be released shortly.

-www.motorsportenterprises.com

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Series SCCA
Drivers Randy Pobst , Deborah Loth , Skip Barber , Jeff Altenburg , Jordon Musser , Justin Hall , Todd Lamb , Jim Daniels , Jason Saini