Consistency in race control plus judicious use of technology keeps on-track action clean, cars competitive and racers happy
Keeping competition equal in spec racing is vital – but equal also means close racing, and close racing can lead to contact. The trick to keeping the racing tight all season long is to ensure the contact isn’t the kind that affects the outcome of the race, and that’s where race control in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires comes in.
In its second year under IndyCar sanctioning, the series has, through the first four rounds kept significant contact to a minimum – much of that comes from the top.
“When IndyCar took over as the sanctioning body for MX-5 Cup, we really wanted to try to replicate the same models we use for the Verizon IndyCar Series,” explains Jason Penix, senior director of competition for IndyCar. “That comes down to a couple of different areas, the first being race control as a whole. When I say that, I mean not only having a strong race director up there, but also the same support team working with IndyCar. That helps in terms of familiarity and consistency and continuity of that same group of people working together every week.”
Along with race control, there are three stewards whom Mazda racers and the MX-5 Cup community are rather familiar with – Joel Miller, Tom Long and Andrew Carbonell.
“I’m a steward, I’m not the race director, and the final calls are made by the race director,” explains Miller, who is in his second year working with the series. “But having a consistent drivers’ opinion in race control…is a huge help. It’s something we use on the Mazda Road to Indy side as well and it has paid great dividends there. Also, when we speak to the drivers in the paddock, we talk to them as drivers, not officials. The thought process is a little bit different when they see an official walking up to them – ‘OK, I’m in trouble’ – vs. a fellow driver. And we try to keep that communication at the forefront for the weekend.”