The judges at the Mazda Road to 24 and Mazda Road to Indy shootouts have a tough job trying to figure out which of the invited drivers has everything they’re looking for – the complete package that will represent Mazda and the partners well as they take the next step up the racing ladder.
Sometimes, though, the drivers make the judges decisions easier by clearly not possessing some key qualities or training, making them stand out in the wrong way. And while these drivers are trying to earn a big-money scholarship to step to the next rung of the ladder, the qualities they need are the same ones any driver needs to get new opportunities with teams or sponsors.
“On the driving side, they earned the right to be here,” says Andrew Carbonell, who has served as a judge for several shootouts. “It’s off the track where I see more unpreparedness. It’s not necessarily in their business plan or the videos they send – they’re great. But a lot of times the videos were scripted, or the business plans were written by a professional. Then when you speak to the participants face-to-face, you’re not speaking to the same person you saw in the videos or read about in the business plan. That’s where I see the most weakness, not being true to themselves about what their capabilities are outside the car.”