Assuming you can ring up the money and were born with the talent, you can find a variety of ways to get into auto racing as a driver if you’re determined enough. Some guys, including the immortal Ayrton Senna, began in karts. Others opt for schools like Skip Barber’s operation. Off-road racing in the America desert has spawned stars ranging from Rick Mears to Jimmie Johnson. Some guys will knock around their local dirt bullring in a clapped-out Dodge Neon. So options exist if you’re willing to give it a shot. One such avenue is the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, which announced today that it’s picking the NASCAR-owned International Motor Sports Association as its 2021 sanctioning partner. It’s marque-spec racing, the premier element of the Mazda Road to 24, and the series champion gets a $200,000 scholarship.
The alliance will give competitors in the series a plausible path to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, which performs on many of the same venues as the Mazda series. The Global MX-5 Cup matches competitors in MX-5s, the erstwhile Miata, that are shipped from Japan to Flis Performance right here in Daytona Beach, which welds in roll cages and otherwise transforms them with more than 250 race-specific components. The race MX-5s run on slicks furnished by series partner BFGoodrich. They’re powered by factory-sealed Mazda 2.0-liter SKYACTIV engines, ensuring even competitions. The marriage between Mazda and IMSA is logical, given that Mazda is defending winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, running factory prototypes in the top DPi category. The Global MX-5 Cup resumes later this month in St. Petersburg, Florida, where it will share the street circuit with the NTT IndyCar series.