Mazda Scholarship Winners Words of Wisdom
 January 4, 2021| 
  • Series News

January 4, 2021 - It won’t be long before the 2020 Mazda Shootout winner, Aaron Jeansonne, will make his debut in the Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires.  Since 2008, the generous scholarship that Mazda awards Shootout winners (which has continued to grow and is now valued at more than $110,000) has opened doors for numerous drivers.

As young American Jeansonne, who hails from Sulphur, Louisiana, prepares for his rookie year of completion as the latest Shootout winner, some of his predecessors were kind enough to share their advice for Jeansonne ahead of the 2021 season. 

“The best advice I would give the new kid is that you don’t need to win every race. Most of the season, it isn’t the guy with the most wins, it’s the guy who was most consistent. Mazda is a family, make friends on and off track and you will find more opportunities will show up for you. Respect the guy next to you and he will remember it and respect you when its his turn to return the respect. Smile, even if the race didn’t go the way you wanted it to, because you could be sitting in an office right now. And I hope one day I get an opportunity to kick your butt, again. Good luck!” 

    Justin Piscitell, 2009 Shootout Winner


“As the scholarship winner you will always be in the spotlight, so be ready for it. Your rookie year in MX-5 Cup will be an experience that you will never forget as long as you live because you are taking your first shot at pro racing. Throughout the year you will go through the full range of emotions, the highs are high and the lows are low. Most importantly the one thing to remember is to make sure you are having fun because that is what it is all about.  Aaron, welcome to the Mazda family and the best of luck to you!”

   Jared Thomas, 2019 Shootout Winner


“I would say stay humble and consistent. You are part of an elite group of shootout winners and need to be clean on and off the track. And with the consistency part, race wins don’t always mean championships and rookie of the year awards. Consistent top five’s and podiums can bring home the prize, too. Lastly, enjoy every minute of it. You’ve been given a great opportunity that many can only dream of.” 

   Selin Rollan, 2017 Shootout Winner


“The hard work really begins after winning the Mazda Shootout. Formulating a sustainable business plan to be able to leverage the scholarship into a two-year assault on the MX-5 Cup Series is very challenging. You have to look at it like a business and make smart decisions on how you are going to leverage the scholarship and access the extra funds necessary to campaign the first season and carry that over into a second full season. The job once you get to the racetrack is simple. Be smart and finish every race. Finishing every race is the best thing you can do for your Rookie of the Year or Championship hopes.”

   Michael Carter, 2018 Shootout Winner


“When I won the shootout, I was at a point where it was really my last shot to make anything out of racing and I put too much pressure on myself to win the championship out of the gate. I would use the opportunity to put in good results, network as much as possible and think one to two years ahead to keep your career going. The best thing that came out of me winning the shootout was the support I got years later from people like John Doonan, Charles and Will from ModSpace, and building relationships with other partners like Howard Concrete Plumbing that are still with me today. My advice would be to not look at it as your only shot, but to build a platform for your future.”

   Patrick Gallagher, 2012 Shootout Winner 


The 2020 Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires begins January 27 – 29 at Daytona International Speedway alongside the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

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