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— Carlsbad California High School Student Wins Biggest Prize in Club Racing

   November 10, 2011 (Irvine, Calif.). Elliott Skeer will follow in the footsteps of Andrew Caddell, Brad Rampelberg, Justin Piscitell, Nick Evans, and Scott Shelton, the five previous Mazda shootout winners.  He also joins the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver ladder program class of 2012.  The MAZDASPEED ladder has been a critical part of the success of up-and-coming racers including Raphael Matos, John Edwards, Conor Daly, Joel Miller, Connor De Phillippi, Dane Cameron, Jason Saini, Todd Lamb, Eric Foss, Michael Cooper, Trent Hindman, Danilo Estrella, Adam Christodoulou, Sage Karam, Spencer Pigot, Felix Serralles, Tristan Vautier, Petri Suvanto, and Scott Anderson.

         The 17-year old Skeer is currently a junior at High Tech High in San Marcos, California.  The A-student is preparing to pursue a mechanical engineering degree but has yet to choose a college.  His racing resume includes a decade of racing karts.

         When told that he had won the shootout, a prize valued at $75,000, the richest in all of club racing Skeer noted, “Without this shootout and the MAZDASPEED ladder, the path to the top looks like a giant maze. This just changed my life and is helping me realize that it is possible to make my dream a reality and become a professional driver.  I would also like to thank my sponsors; Rush Motorsport, Anthony Woodford Racing, and Pelican Replacement Windows.  I can’t wait for the adventure to begin.” 

The three shootout finalists were:

  • Elivan Goulart, Shelton, Connecticut, SCCA Spec Miata Champion
  • Elliott Skeer, Carlsbad, California, NASA Teen Challenge (West) Spec Miata Champion
  • Nate Sparks, Daphne, Alabama, NASA Spec Miata and NASA Teen Challenge (East) Champion

The criteria: Given that each of the finalists had proven themselves on the track by winning a championship, the criteria to move up needed to be more encompassing.   To succeed on the professional level requires a balance of both on-track and off-track skills including the following:

  • Driving ability – fast laps
  • Driving ability – consistent laps
  • Technical feedback – Understanding of vehicle dynamics and suspension
  • Technical feedback – Ability to evaluate vehicle handling
  • Technical feedback – Ability to analyze data
  • Technical feedback – Ability to improve vehicle handling
  • The business of motorsports – Business proposal
  • The business of motorsports – Business presentation
  • The business of motorsports – PR Skills

The driving sessions were conducted at Buttonwillow Raceway Park using a Mazda MX-5 Playboy Cup Car prepared by Tri-Point Motorsports.

The judges: Each year Mazda invites a panel of outside judges to make the selection.   The judges brought a wealth of both on-track, and off-track expertise.  Over a dozen professionals were involved in either the preliminary business proposal review, on-track activities, or both.  The panel consisted of:  

  • Andy Bornhop – Managing Editor, Road Track magazine
  • Peter Calhoun – Motorsport Program Manager, BFGoodrich Tires
  • Alex Cross – Owner, Alex Cross Associates
  • Charles Espenlaub – Professional Mazda racer, Rolex GrandAm GT
  • John Fabijanic – Engineering Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Greg Gill – Group VP, Haymarket Publications
  • Eric Foss – Professional Racer, MAZDASPEED ladder alum
  • John Horton – Owner, Horton Autosport
  • Karl Koenigstein – Motorsport Engineering Manager, Michelin North America
  • Silvia Mammone – Motorsports Sponsorship Manager, Michelin North America
  • Lisa Natale – Marketing Consultant, Playboy
  • Brad Rampelberg – Professional racer, MAZDASPEED ladder alum
  • Scott Shelton – Professional racer, MAZDASPEED ladder alum
  • Errol Tucker Sr. – Owner, GoRacingTV.com

The tally:  After a full day of both driving, and classroom activities, the judges added the objective and subjective scores — discussing the merits of each driver.  The judges deliberated carefully before declaring Skeer the champion.

The prize package:  The total prize package is valued at over $75,000 and is the largest prize in club racing. 

  • $50,000 for the running of his car for the season
  • $10,000 in parts support
  • A MAZDASPEED driving suit and helmet
  • Professional media training (Courtesy of MAZDASPEED)
  • Ten sets of BFGoodrich tires, one set per race (Courtesy of BFGoodrich Tires)
  • Ten entry fee waivers (Courtesy of SCCA Pro Racing)

Additional quotes:

 Steve SandersMAZDASPEED Competition Manager:  “Mazda enjoys a leadership position within the grassroots motorsports world. With leadership comes responsibility.  We have chosen to promote outstanding club racers to the professional ranks as the best way to clearly demonstrate our commitment and responsibility to both our customers and the sport at large.” 

Charles Espenlaub – Mazda racer:  “Each year I’m more and more impressed with the quality of racers.  Raw driving talent is no longer enough.  All three of the finalists showed skills both on and off the track, but the judges landed on Elliott Skeer as the driver they would hire if they were running a team. “

Peter Calhoun – Motorsports Program Manager, BFGoodrich: “BFGoodrich shares Mazda’s passion of motorsports clearly evident through our multiple partnerships dating back 40 years. Helping to promote drivers from club racing to the professional ranks is a great honor and we look forward to the opportunity with Elliott Skeer in 2012.”

Mazda is the brand of choice for road-racers across North America.  More than 9,000 grassroots racers compete in various classes with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA).  Racers who are years away from earning a driver’s license can now begin a professional motorsports careers in the Mazda family.  A driver can begin in karts and progress through a variety of diverse series ranging from the Skip Barber series, NASA and SCCA club racing, USF2000, Star Mazda, Continental Tire Challenge, up to Grand-Am GT and ALMS, all with Mazda.  No other car company has ever connected the dots this way.

Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers.  Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.


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For more information on Mazda products, visit the online Mazda media center at       www.MazdaUSAmedia.com

For more information on MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, visit www.MAZDASPEEDMotorsports.com

For more information on the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, visit www.mx-5cup.com


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