NASA and SCCA cooperate to stage amateur shootout.
To the casual race fan that may have attended the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey powered Mazda weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 1-3, an armada of some 48 Mazda MX-5 race cars just looked like a lot of convertibles on the track.
With three different classes running at once, Mazda MX-5 Cup, Skip Barber Mazda MX-5 Series and the Mazda Race of NASA Champions, there was much more than an exciting 45-minute race. The most significant of which was the cooperation between the National Auto Sport Association and the Sports Car Club of America amateur club racing organizations.
Usually the twain never meet. Give credit to John Doonan, the Mazda Motorsports man at the top. He offered all of the NASA Champions, from both their eastern and western championships 2014 the chance to put on the gloves, in this case equally prepared Skip Barber Racing School Mazda Miata race cars, and see who is the best of the best.
The offer was made to all NASA Champions, weather they raced a Mazda to their championship or a BMW. As a matter of fact Matthew Powers, who was crowned Grand Champion at Laguna Seca was the 2014 NASA NorCal, Western States Champion in his GTS4 Class BMW M3. The olive branch set forth by Doonan meant that the NASA racers would need SCCA licenses, a small contribution, on top of the $1,500 pittance for some excellent track time in front of a big crowd at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“Great race,” Powers exclaimed. “It was really simple for the first 30-minutes and then that yellow came out. It became a whole different race on the restart. I am just happy to have the car in one piece and at the front. It was a fantastic race. I really appreciate everyone from Mazda and NASA who put this great event together. There are some great drivers here. It was an awesome battle. I knew there was something going on with Jeremy and Corey. They were really battling. Jeremy tried to make a hero move and I was able to capitalize and take the win.”
Yes, Powers won, with Corey Rueth coming second and NASA marketing exec Jeremy Croiset finishing out the podium. The true winners were all of the NASA and SCCA membership, as well as racing in general, that two competing organizations can help one another for the good of the racer and the good of the sport. Scott Atherton, IMSA CEO, and Scott Bove, World Challenge CEO, I hope you were watching.