Multiple Roads Lead To Mazda MX-5 Cup
Aside from relishing in the off-track duties of a racer, Foley also enjoys the competitive side. That is of the many reasons he has returned for his second season in Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge, which runs with the Mazda MX-5Cup.
“The competitiveness and cost effectiveness was really the deciding factor in running with the Mazda MX-5 Cup and MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge,” Foley said. “There really isn’t a series out there that is more competitive, making it the perfect place to develop as a driver. Combined with the fact that Mazda MX-5 Cup is the most cost-effective way to go professional racing, it was really a no-brainer.”
The series also attracts many drivers who started their racing career later in life. Steve Bottom, of Newport Beach, Calif., has been in the automotive and motorsports market since 1980. Currently serving as an Associate Publisher at Racer Media & Marketing, Bottom has worked in motorsports promotions, aftermarket automotive parts and other automotive-based publishing and media. Having spent, now, over 30 years in the automotive industry, it wasn’t until Mazda became such a big player in armature racing that Bottom had ever realized his dream of racing.
“Driving a race car, as an amateur or professional, always seemed out of reach,” Bottom said. “Mazda’s programs made becoming a racing driver a reality for many people.
“The cars are affordable and a blast to drive, and the extensive parts program and technical help leads the industry. Not to mention, the level of competition is fantastic.”
With the financial barriers to entry lowered, Bottom took the chance to get involved first-hand with the industry he had been a part of for so many years.
“I started out in Spec Miata in 2002,” Bottom said. “Over the years, I have attended several driving schools. However, there is nothing like wheel-to-wheel racing in SCCA Club and SCCA Pro Racing.
“When there are 10, 20 or 30 closely-matched cars racing through every corner of the track, from the first to the last…it is a feeling and challenge that has to be experienced to be believed.”
Bottom very much enjoys racing in the Mazda MX-5 Cup and does not plan on racing elsewhere any time soon. However, like any driver, he would not turn down the chance to go faster.
“I keep waiting for the call from Pirelli World Challenge GT that they need me in the big cars for the next event,” Bottom joked. “They must have lost my number, or something.”
Chris Beaufait, of Freeland, Wash., is another car enthusiast who got his start in racing later in life. However, unlike Bottom, his career took him far from motorsports.
“I have had an interest in sports cars even before getting my driver’s license,” Beaufait said. “I became interested in motorsports, as a spectator, in 1993 after graduating from the United States Naval Academy.
“In 2010, I enjoyed my first track day in my street car and knew then it was the start of something special. I attended the Skip Barber Racing School in August of 2013 and have participated in regional and professional races as often as my schedule permits, since that time.”
For Beaufait, the thing that drives him each time at the track is the competition.
“I was a collegiate athlete and enjoy the competition and camaraderie the sport provides,” Beaufait said. “I also wanted to give better balance my life, and motorsports is a great avenue to push oneself.”
For now, Beaufait will work on improving his performance behind the wheel of his Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge car. However, as his career progresses, Beaufait’s goal is to race in an endurance series of some kind.
These four drivers, plus the rest of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires field, is set to take on flowing turns and world-renowned ‘Corkscrew’ of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 2-4.