Series crowns 2009 Master Series champion




Trois Rivieres, Quebec (August 20, 2009) -- Mike Guasch, of Walnut Creek, California, has clinched the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear 'Master Series' title with his sixth in-class victory of the 2009 season driving the #91 JDC Motorsports / Molecule Labs / MG4 Manufacturing Mazda. The Master Series is a race-within-a-race for drivers 45 and older that pits businessmen/racers against the hottest young drivers in the world in high-tech, Indy-style cars that battle wheel-to-wheel at speeds up to 160 mph. Guasch, 51, clinched the title with a first-in-class, 11th-overall finish at the 40th running of the GP3R at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res. A semi-retired businessman and entrepreneur, Guasch has a long history of competition in motocross and jet ski racing, but his last four seasons as a driver in the intensely competitive Star Mazda Championship -- crowned by his first-ever national racing title -- marks his first foray into auto racing.

"The first racing I ever did was a dirt-track VW bug for about six months right after I got out of high school, then motocross and jet ski racing, but there was no future as a pro in those sports for me so I had to hang it up and go to work," says Guasch, who sold his chemical business to Du Pont five years ago and is now the founder of a new start-up called Molecule Labs, a company that produces a revolutionary product for the care and cleaning of Nomex racing suits. "I semi-retired about five years ago when I sold my business and bought a Star Mazda car and decided to go racing. This is the first real race car I ever owned and I was exceedingly slow at first, but it's getting better. Kudos to the JDC Motorsports team, to my engineer Rick Cameron who has taught me a tremendous amount about the technical and engineering side of racing. Also to Rick's son Dane Cameron, the 2007 Star Mazda champion and my driving coach for this season."

Guasch won the Master Series category at the Star Mazda Championship season-opener at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, and followed it up with another in-class victory in Round 2 at Virginia International Raceway. He finished 2nd at Miler Motorsports Park in Round 3 and 4th in Round 5 (Race 1 of a double-header) at New Jersey Motorsports Park. He climbed back onto the podium with a Master Series win in Round 6 (Race 2 at New Jersey) followed by in-class victories in the three most recent races (a double-header at Autobahn in Joliet, IL) and the street circuit at Trois-Rivi0x00e8res. Three races remain on the 2009 schedule, and Guasch plans to use them to go after the series' 'young guns' and see how high he can finish in the overall standings.

"I finished 11th and 12th in the double-header at Autobahn, and then 11th at Trois Rivieres, my three best finishes ever, back-to-back," says Guasch. "Week-after-week I'm getting better, more consistent, my engineering feedback is getting better and I'm training regularly so my physical condition is improving. I'm twenty pounds lighter and feel twenty years younger than when I retired. Winning the Master Series was my goal this season and I'm happy to have done it with a few races left because now I can focus on seeing how high up I can finish in the overall standings. I feel like I have an advantage over the younger drivers in a way because they carry the pressure of trying to build a career every time they get into the car; me, I just do this for the sheer joy of it."

Guasch's history with the Star Mazda Championship begins in 2006 when he ran eight of twelve races and finished 8th in the championship. After founding his Molecule Labs start-up, Guasch cut down his racing activities to focus on the development and introduction of the Molecule products. He remained involved in motorsports, sponsoring the Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car entry and sponsoring and participating in the West Coast-based MOLECULE Formula Mazda Challenge Championship based at Infineon Raceway near his hometown of Walnut Creek, California. Returning to competition in 2008, he ran five events, won his class at Portland and finished third in the Master Series championship. He also claimed second place overall in the 2008 Star Mazda West Coast Championship and third in the MOLECULE Formula Mazda Challenge.

Previous winners of the Star Mazda Master Series Championship include 2008 winner Chuck Hulse, also a Californian driving for JDC Motorsports who scored eight in-class victories driving the #12 Silicon Salvage Mazda, as well as Steve Hickham (2007), Doug Petersen (2004 & 2006), John Pew (2005), John Faulkner (2003) and Joe Pruskowski (2002).

"Mike has shown that he is a true competitor and everyone at JDC Motorsports has felt energized working with him during the season," says JDC Motorsports co-owner John Church, whose team won the 2007 Star Mazda Championship with Dane Cameron. "His desire to follow in the footsteps of our championship winning drivers makes him a real asset to our organization. And his championship victory at Trois-Rivieres -- along with our driver Alex Ardoin winning the race overall and our F2000 driver Chris Miller winning his championship with a victory in the season finale at Mid-Ohio -- made it one of the most memorable and rewarding race weekends in my career."

JDC engineer Rick Cameron has engineered cars for a Who's Who of top open-wheel drivers on their way up the ladder, including Indy Car stars Buddy Rice (the 2004 Indy 500 winner), Patrick Carpentier, Memo Gidley and Alex Barron, as well as Star Mazda champions Michael McDowell, Raphael Matos (2005) and Dane Cameron (2007).

"I was able to watch Mike develop a lot as a driver last season as we worked together at the west coast events," said Cameron. "As he started looking towards the 2009 season and his goal of going for the Master Class championship the idea of working together at JDC Motorsports made perfect sense. He has made tremendous progress as a driver this season and I'm looking forward to working with him if he decides to defend his championship in 2010."

As for Guasch, his plans for 2010 at this point are being finalized. He is keen to defend his championship and work to finish regularly in the top-10 racing against the hottest young open-wheel drivers from around the world, but, like every driver, he also longs to go faster.

"The Star Mazda Championship is a tremendous training ground for drivers of any age, and I could certainly do with another year of experience," says Guasch. "But people call me 'Ironman' because I love to drive lap after lap and these 45-minute races just aren't quite long enough for me. Everybody else was beat when they got out of the car at Trois-Rivieres but I could have gone on another two hours. I'm going to test a GT car in the fall just to see how that feels, and the Grand-Am series, particularly the prototype class, has a lot of appeal for me. I don't see why I can't be as fast, or faster, at 53 or 54 than I am at 51; it's just a matter of dedication, that's what makes anyone good at what they do."

-credit: mazda

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Barron , John Faulkner , Michael McDowell , Joe Pruskowski , Buddy Rice , Mike Guasch , Dane Cameron , Steve Hickham , Alex Ardoin , Chuck Hulse , Chris Miller