Spirit of Daytona to test Star Mazda champion

Star Mazda Champion to Test with Spirit of Daytona A potential Grand American Rolex Star will be testing with the Spirit of Daytona at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Raphael Matos, winner of the 2005 Star Mazda Championship will get...

Star Mazda Champion to Test with Spirit of Daytona

A potential Grand American Rolex Star will be testing with the Spirit of Daytona at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Raphael Matos, winner of the 2005 Star Mazda Championship will get a chance to test in the 09 Daytona Prototype (DP) on December 5-6. Matos, won the Star Mazda Championship by eleven points on Oct. 15, after competing in the last Star Mazda race of the season at Laguna Seca. He placed 8th overall in the race but had enough series points to keep him in the lead. Matos has had four victories, three pole positions, and nine podium visits in the past twelve race series and is now looking to test his skills behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype.

Matos, native to Brazil, drives for Ocean Tomo Racing and has been competing in the Star Mazda series for the last two years. In 2004 he placed 7th overall in the series even after he missed the first race of the season. Before joining up with the Star Mazda Series, Matos raced in the Barber Dodge Series. He won the Skip Barber scholarship and went on to win the Dodge National Championship.

Matos originally started racing go-karts in Brazil at age eleven. He raced karts for seven years and won the Brazilian go-kart championships. He then moved to the US in 2002 to gain more racing experience. He raced in the Skip Barber Series for three seasons and won the Skip Barber Shoot Out and rookie of the year in 2002. He then raced in his first Star Mazda season in 2004. Matos was originally only going to race part of the 2005 Star Mazda season, but after the first, second, and third races of the season, Ocean Tomo signed him for the entire 2005 series.

The 24-year-old Brazilian now calls Sunny Isles Beach, FL his home. When he is not racing Matos enjoys mountain biking at Oleta Park in Miami and does tire testing for Bridgestone tires. He also teaches at driving schools and at go-kart schools throughout South Florida.

With his Star Mazda season complete, Matos is currently looking for a new team to race with. His testing with the Spirit of Daytona this December could mean a new team number for him to wear in the 2006 Rolex Series. Matos is excited and looking forward to his testing sessions in the 09 DP.

"I love the series (Rolex Series) and I love the way the cars look. I have never done endurance racing and it is a completely different approach. With racing you have to constantly be trying different approaches. One of my best friends, Oswaldo Negri (Negri co-driver of the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing) told me that Grand Am is one of the best places to race in because of the support the series receives. There are good teams in the series and it is growing fast.

Hopefully we can put a program together with the Spirit of Daytona and I can be new blood for the Rolex Grand-Am Series."

Matos is also familiar with Rolex driver and past Star Mazda driver Michael McDowell.

"(I) raced against him in the 2004 Star Mazda Series and he won the championships. We had good battles throughout the season. After his championship season he moved to DPs and is now one of the top drivers in the series. I hope that I have the same opportunities as him and get a shot at the DPs for 2006."

Troy Flis, team owner/manager, was at the Star Mazda Championship Banquet to congratulate Matos.

"I am excited to see how Matos will handle our DP. I saw him in action during the final at Laguna Seca and was impressed with his driving. He is coming from a series with exceptional talent and I would not be surprised if he takes with him his winning history and successes into our series. I welcome the possibilities of working with Matos in the future."

Star Mazda is a professional racing series with the main objective to develop new racing and driver talent. The series competes across North America at tracks such as Lagunea Seca, Mid-Ohio, Trois-Rivieres and Mosport. The series consists of 12 races a year and averages 39 entrants per race. The Star Mazda cars are all one design ensuring to highlight driver skill rather than building the best racecar.

For more information on Spirit of Daytona visit: www.spiritofdaytona.com
For more information on Star Mazda visit: www.starmazca.com


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Skip Barber , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing