Winner of 2017 Battery Tender Mazda Global MX-5 Cup Championship is racing in IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Pirelli World Challenge
One of the benefits of winning a championship in a Mazda ladder series such as the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires is the Career Advancement Scholarship that Mazda offers. Patrick Gallagher won that title in 2017, then won the Global MX-5 Challenge at Laguna Seca that followed the season and paid $75,000 to the winner. The only question left to answer was, what to do with all of that money?
Mazda isn’t currently racing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Gallagher had already won the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Championship in a previous-generation MX-5, and that car wasn’t really the ideal car for the class anymore. But Multimatic, Mazda’s partner in the RT-24P prototype, provided the answer. Multimatic developed the GT4-spec Ford Mustangs that race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and also in Pirelli World Challenge’s GTS class. So, while not a Mazda, the Multimatic tie-in made it a good fit. With co-driver Chad McCumbee, who just happens to be co-owner with Stephan McAleer of the team that Gallagher raced with in MX-5 Cup, Gallagher went to IMSA with sponsorship from ModSpace.
“In talking with [Mazda Motorsports Director] John Doonan, and the link with Multimatic and the Mazda prototype, we decided that going with Multimatic was probably the best opportunity for me and Chad as well,” Gallagher explains. “ModSpace was super excited about it. The Multimatic link between the prototype and the Ford GT4 car is where it all came from. When John presented me with the idea, I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go do it.’ It took a couple of months and John worked really hard to put the deal together and I’m thankful for everyone at Mazda for putting me in a position to keep racing.”
Their season got off to a rocky start at Daytona, but picked up steam as it progressed with a second-place finish at Gallagher’s home track of Mid-Ohio and a win at Watkins Glen International. He and McCumbee are sixth heading into the finale at Road Atlanta in October.
“It’s been up and down,” says Gallagher. “We had a couple of issues where we didn’t finish some races, whether it be mechanical or contact. We had a rough start to the year, but we’ve always had the pace – the ModSpace Mustang has been fast everywhere and I think we’ve qualified in the top five every time. The real highlight was Watkins Glen, where we picked up a win.”