Andy Lally, whose regular ride is in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Magnus Racing in the GT Daytona class, wasn’t aware of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Challenge race until he walked into the Laguna Seca paddock last year. There to drive for Magnus in the California 8 Hour round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, someone joked that since he raced everything, he must be racing in the MX-5 Cup Challenge as well.
“I heard that Mazda put up this gigantic purse for a one-off race that weekend,” the four-time Rolex 24 at Daytona GT class winner says. “I said that would be pretty cool and made a mental note for if they did it next year. As 2018 rolled around, I’d forgotten about it, and my buddy Todd Lamb, who lives just down the road from me, gave me a ring and said, ‘I remember you having an interest. I’m going for it and I think it would be helpful to have a teammate to have a drafting partner. If you feel like it, I’ve got a second car you could use and we could hook you up.’
“I said absolutely; it seemed like a cool challenge to try to adapt to something in a day of practice and get out there with the best guys on the planet that race these things.”
Scheduled to take place with the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway, the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Challenge brings the best MX-5 Cup racers from around the world for a shot at a $50,000 prize. This year, as last, the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires champion took home the big prize (Patrick Gallagher in 2017, Nathanial Sparks this year), but Lally had a good time, adapted quickly and had a good shot at it. He was even in position to win the second race until a mechanical problem struck.