Winner’s hardware and two scholarships were awarded to the series champions and top finishers at the awards banquet for the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires, at the Atlanta Marriott in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, on Oct. 2.
John Dean, of Sebring, Florida, was the night’s big winner as he was formally awarded the 2015 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship title, with a total of 659 points. As the series champion, Dean not only earned the trophy and contingency that go with winning the championship, but he also earned the $200,000 Mazda Road to 24 scholarship to advance his career as a racecar driver.
At the banquet, it was announced that Dean would take advantage of a unique arrangement regarding the scholarship funds. With the pricing announcement regarding the new 2016 Global MX-5 Cup car package happening Oct 1, Dean elected to receive two of the new $53,000 racing machines, plus $100,000 to use in campaigning the cars next season. The move was unprecedented, as all past series champions have used the scholarship funds to move to the next level of sports car racing.
Also taking home scholarship funds was Robby Foley, of Randolph, New Jersey, after he won the season-long Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge Championship scoring 666 points. His scholarship was worth $100,000 to be used to help fund a full season in the 2016 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup, at the controls of the new generation of MX-5 Cup car.
Leading into the final two rounds of the season, as part of the Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda, at Road Atlanta, Dean, in the No. 16 Bulb Jacket/PPG/Sick Sideways MX-5, was the Championship leader. However, he held that position with only a seven-point margin over Patrick Gallagher, of Thornville, Ohio, in the No. 44 Howard Concrete Pumping MX-5. In the last two races of the season, Gallagher made a push to get to the lead in the first of two races. The championship picture became clearer after Gallagher was unable to crack the lead. In the second race, Gallagher scored the win, but Dean finished in a high enough position to guarantee his title. When the final points were tallied, Gallagher finished 13 markers behind Dean having compiled a record of three wins, nine podium finishes and two pole positions.
Nathanial Sparks, of Spanish Fort, Alabama, came into the final two races of the season in third, and completed the season in the same position. Sparks collected a total of 597 points, including four podium finishes at the controls of his No. 8 OOTSK Performance/Sick Sideways MX-5.
Drake Kemper, of Toluca Lake, California, represented the third, of three, full-time Sick Sideways drivers in the top five of the championship. Kemper drove his No. 99 Royal Rugby/Mazda Motorsports Development/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5 to a total of 562 points. Kemper’s record included one win and four podium finishes.
In his first year in the series, and first time driving fendered sports cars in anger, Peter Portante, of Plainville, Connecticut, completed the top five positions. Portante wheeled his No. 24 Intercity Lines MX-5 to a total of 552 points, which included five consecutive podium finishes.
Back to the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, Sam Adams, of Richfield, Wisconsin, and Nikko Reger, of Houston, completed the top three championship positions.
Adams finished the season seven markers behind Foley, and compiled a record of seven podium finishes with three wins. Reger finished the season with a total of 657 points, including six podium finishes. Those podiums included three wins.
Kyle Loustaunau (No. 4 Mazda Motorsports Development/BFGoodrich Tires MX-5), of Vacaville, California, took home rookie of the year honors as the top point-scoring rookie, while Zach Lee (No. 12 ALARA Racing MX-5), of San Antonio, notched the Master’s Championship as the highest scoring, eligible driver over 40 years old. The Team of the Year Award was given to ModSpace Racing, as the new team, co-owned by past series champion Stevan McAleer, notched two wins. Sarah Montgomery (No. 14 Travel Lafayette, LA/F.A.S.T. Fresh Air Systems Technologies MX-5), of Lafayette, Louisiana, was the recipient of the Spirit of Mazda award for embodying the Challenger Spirit.
“All of us at Mazda are very proud of the 2015 Battery Tender MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich season,” John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports, North America said. “To have so many competitors join us for the entire season – ending the season with a 37 car field – and to have the season championship come down to the final race is all that we could ever ask for when it comes to big fields and close competition. Our congratulations go out to John Dean for his championship, which has eluded him in the past, and Robby Foley for his Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge Championship.
“We are excited that John [Dean] has chosen to remain in the series for 2016 with his $200,000 scholarship by adding two brand new 2016 cars under the Sick Sideways tent and we look forward to seeing Robby move up the Mazda Road to 24 ladder. We are proud of the growth of this series over the last ten seasons and we are dedicated to continuing to find ways to bring continuous value to participants and partners every year.”
The full schedule for the 2016 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup season will be announced in the coming weeks.