Rookie driver, rookie class

Rookie driver, rookie class

Mazda Motorsports

Rookie driver, rookie class


Racing rookie Cagri Yilmaz jumped into NASA’s new ST5 class and came away with a Great Lakes region championship

As the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) transitions its Performance Touring categories to Super Touring, many racers are finding the ruleset a more attractive one. While still heavily based on power-to-weight ratio, the Super Touring classes offer a revised formula that changes that power-to-weight ratio based on modifications. The ST5 class is more restrictive than the others in terms of allowable modifications, and that makes it an easy point of entry for many new racers. Cagri Yilmaz is one of those.

Yilmaz just completed his first year of wheel-to-wheel racing in NASA’s Great Lakes region racing a 2007 MX-5. Previously he had done some HPDEs and ChampCar Endurance Series but this is his first year with a NASA competition license. And he did pretty darn well – not only was he the top rookie, but he took the region championship as well.

In his competition school, for the mock race at the end, it was raining. Yilmaz spun to last place, but then worked his way back to the front. It was a pretty big confidence booster. “I told the regional director, ‘I want to become rookie of the year,” Yilmaz says. “The next day, in the real race, I finished in P1.” He went on to win five more races, including a three-race sweep at Pitt Race.

Yilmaz owns a car dealership and has been involved in cars and motorsports for years. Racing, for him, is a “professional hobby.” He had been on track in an NA Miata and an NC MX-5, but his brother and he had talked about building a real race car, he was going to do it right. Starting with a 2007 MX-5 that had seen some track time but no racing, they set about making it competitive for the new ST5 class.

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