Mazda MX-5 Cup Car Number 300 Reports for Duty
 June 26, 2024| 
  • Series News
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Hugely successful race car also popular choice for track day

 

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2024) – The Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin posts impressive numbers when it comes to victory margins, lead changes, prize money and more, but this summer the series reaches a number that’s been a decade in the making. In June, Flis Performance completed Mazda MX-5 Cup car build number 300.

 

Prior to the 2016 season, teams could purchase a Mazda MX-5 Miata and a MX-5 Cup conversion kit from Mazda Motorsports to build their own cars. Race teams are always pushing the boundaries of the rulebook and as they did, the series began to inch away from the spirit of spec racing. With Mazda’s launch of the ND model Miata, it was the perfect time to re-invent MX-5 Cup.

 

The new era of MX-5 Cup started with Long Road Racing in North Carolina. A longtime Mazda team, they took on the role of building the first ND MX-5 Cup cars. Andres Valdes was there when it all started.

 

“When the website got developed and we talked to everyone about the platform and what MX-5 Cup was going to be, we ended up breaking the website the very first day,” Valdes said. “We went from having zero orders to having over 100 orders overnight.”

 

Long Road Racing had the right people and processes in place, but it still took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to build more than 100 cars for the 2016 season.

 

In 2020 the responsibility for building the MX-5 Cup cars switched to Flis Performance based in Daytona Beach, Florida, and operated by brothers Todd and Troy Flis. Transferring the operations to Florida was a new challenge for the series, and for Valdes, who made the choice to join Flis.

 

“It was scary at first to be completely honest,” Valdes said. “Because I didn't have a relationship with Todd or Troy (Flis). I knew them and some of their background. But we all had that vision of MX-5 Cup could be one of the best forms of racing in the world. After discussing with Todd and Troy, we made the decision to move down to Daytona.”

 

The MX-5 Cup machine, which has also been a popular choice for drivers who frequent track days rather than just for racing, had an established build plan but needed to be reconfigured under the guidance of Flis Performance.

“At first it was definitely an uphill battle because it wasn't starting from scratch, it was taking what was already established, then taking their experience and developing new SOPs and new processes to be efficient and use the building and what we had available down in Florida,” said Valdes. “We had to develop a really good strategy of how we can take what we have and re-establish a ground zero here in Florida and then just exponentially grow from that. So yeah, there were definitely growing pains!”

 

Building the Mazda MX-5 Cup car isn’t just tacking race parts onto a streetcar. Flis Performance is constantly testing and researching ways to make the car faster, more reliable and more cost effective. 

 

“It's very easy to build a very expensive car,” Valdes explained. “You just take everything that's the highest price on the shelf, throw it at the car and hope for good luck. We didn't want to do that. We wanted to make a really good value for the customer base.”

 

‘Customer,’ encompasses several parties. Flis and Mazda Motorsports must consider not just drivers, but team owners, sanctioning bodies, car clubs and more. The goal is a product with ease of use and multiple applications.

 

And the job doesn’t end with delivering the car to the customer, Flis Performance is at every MX-5 Cup race offering support for repairs, replacements and troubleshooting.

 

Research and development are on-going, so Flis Performance keeps a stable of cars for testing. That is where you’ll find car number 300.

 

Naturally car number 300 couldn’t take part in any regular test, it had to be a special one. It had the honor of being broken in by none other than Keelan Harvick, son of NASCAR star Kevin Harvick. Keelan is only 11 years old but thinks he can follow in his friend’s footsteps: 2022 Mazda MX-5 Cup Rookie of the Year Connor Zilisch.

 

You won’t see MX-5 Cup car number 300 racing, but you might feel like you’re watching 300 cars racing in Rounds Nine and 10 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park July 12 – 14. All MX-5 Cup races are streamed live on the RACER YouTube channel and IMSA.tv.

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