Justin Piscitell Wins Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout, Signs with Alara Racing IRVINE, Calif. (March 19, 2009) -- With only 16 career race starts, Justin Piscitell, of Patterson, N.Y., still had what it took to beat out eight other Mazda champions and...
Justin Piscitell Wins Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout, Signs with Alara Racing
IRVINE, Calif. (March 19, 2009) -- With only 16 career race starts, Justin Piscitell, of Patterson, N.Y., still had what it took to beat out eight other Mazda champions and win the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout. As a result, Piscitell has won a full ride in the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup and has chosen California-based ALARA Racing as his team.
Eleven Mazda-powered champions from SCCA, Skip Barber and NASA were invited to Bunttonwillow Raceway in December to compete in the MX-5 Cup shootout, with eight drivers taking up Mazda's offer to compete for one coveted race seat. In addition to being judged on their driving abilities and technical feedback, the candidates were asked to create a sponsor proposal and partake in a mock media interview. Judges for the shootout included previous winners Brad Rampelberg and Jason Saini, professional Mazda driver Charles Espenlaub, SpeedSource Engineering owner, driver and engineer Sylvain Tremblay and Dan Edmunds, editor for Edmunds.com.
After several hours tabulating scores and sharing subjective opinions, the judges selected 19-year-old Piscitell, the 2008 Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge Series Champion, as the winner.
"Winning the shootout has opened up the world to me," Piscitell said. "As a 19-year-old boy from Patterson, N.Y., who has only been racing for one year, I was elated to even have the opportunity to attend the Mazdaspeed shootout. Winning it is beyond comprehension.
"The greatest thing about the Mazda ladder is that it gives a novice racer like me something to strive for and the opportunity for advancement. It provides an organized sequence and opportunity to advance a racing career. If I win the Playboy MX-5 Cup I can automatically move up to the SPEED World Challenge Series with a factory-supported ride from Mazda. Mazda has given me the chance to pursue my dream in racing in a Pro series."
"The feedback from the judges was great," MAZDASPEED Competition Manager Steve Sanders said. "They noted that the overall quality of the contestants was excellent. Many of these drivers have the potential to make it on a professional level. The key word of the shootout was 'potential' and the judges saw a great deal of that in Justin. We look forward to working with him in 2009."
Piscitell's prize package is valued at more than $70,000 and includes $10,000 in parts support, a custom Sparco racing suit and helmet, 10 free sets of tires and 10 free race entries courtesy of SCCA Pro Racing. The newest member of the MAZDASPEED Driver Development Ladder will race for ALARA Racing in 2009.
"I selected ALARA as I see them as a team that is dedicated to winning the MX-5 Cup and also in advancing my skills as a driver," Piscitell said. "It is a very competitive series, and is going to take a lot of hard work and commitment, but it is what I have always wanted and I am dedicated to the challenge and opportunity that I now have. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way."
"We are very excited that Justin has selected ALARA Racing as his team for the Playboy MX-5 Cup series," ALARA Team Principal Ara Malkhassian said. "Justin quickly impressed us with his natural speed and smoothness in his first test with us. Under Ken Murillo's tutelage, he continues to strengthen and mature as he goes through ALARA Racing's pre-season development program. We expect him to be a strong contender for the championship this year."
Piscitell's first MX-5 Cup race will take place at Road Atlanta on May 2, when the 2009 season kicks off at the Classic Motorsports Mitty.
SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup
Stepping up in place of the former MAZDASPEED Miata Cup, the Mazda MX-5 Cup made its debut in 2006. Featuring identical Mazda MX-5s on spec tires, MX-5 Cup gives drivers the opportunity to run on high-profile weekends in an economical, entry-level racing series. The 2009 MX-5 Cup schedule features 10 races at prestigious events across North America, and with grids composed of roughly 30 cars at each race, MX-5 Cup has become one of the best shows in motorsports today. For more information, visit www.mx-5cup.com.
SCCA Pro Racing
A wholly owned subsidiary of Sports Car Club of America, Inc., SCCA Pro Racing Ltd. is a leading sanctioning body for motorsports events in the United States. A member of the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States (ACCUS), SCCA Pro Racing operates and sanctions the SCCA Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, and provides sanctioning and various operational services for other racing series. For more information, please visit www.sccapro.com.