Members of MX-5 Cup Community Recognized at Championship Banquet
 November 24, 2021| 
  • Series News

November 24, 2021 – It wasn’t just champions collecting hardware at the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires banquet, several other notables in the paddock were recognized for their achievements and contributions as the series closed out a remarkable 2021 season last weekend.


Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) was the big winner of the night, collecting the driver championship trophy and $250,000 in support from Mazda Motorsports. Wagner confirmed he would use the funding to return to the series in 2022.


“With racing this great, I’d be crazy to leave,” Wagner said in his acceptance speech.


Despite being a single car team, Wagner’s performance over the season earned Spark Performance the Mazda MX-5 Cup Team Championship.


JTR Motorsports Engineering, a new and rapidly-growing team was given the VP Clean Image Award. It recognizes their professional look and attitude in the paddock.


Petit_111221-8203 (1)The 2020 series champion Michael Carter (No. 08 Carter Racing Enterprises) came a close second to Wagner in the final points tally, but he didn’t go home empty handed as series officials voted his dad, Mickey Carter, the Mechanic of the Year. Carter also came away with $85,000 for finishing runner-up in the championship.


The other big winner of the evening was Sam Paley (No. 28 McCumbee McAleer Racing) who was named Rookie of the Year and earned an $80,000 support package from Mazda Motorsports.


Paley wasn’t the only rookie to receive an award, Aaron Jeansonne (No. 24 Provision Motorsports) was named the Spirit of Mazda winner. The award goes to an individual who embodies Mazda’s ‘Challenger Spirit.’ Jeansonne had many setbacks in his rookie season, but he remained positive and showed true kaizan a pillar of the Mazda philosophy that represents continued improvement with wisdom and ingenuity. 


Petit_111221-8216In a series where a one-second margin of victory is unheard of, it is always the big moves that make a difference, so the fans had a lot to pick from when it came to the Mazda Move of the Year. Drivers submitted videos of their ‘best move’ of the season and MX-5 Cup staff chose three finalists that fans could vote for online. 


The finalists were; Bryan Hixon’s (No. 47 Hixon Motor Sports) multi-car pass on the apron at Daytona International Speedway, Selin Rollan (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports) going three-wide for a photo-finish win at Sebring International Raceway, and Michael Carter’s quick hands that saved him from disaster as he slid through the grass and into Turn One at Daytona.


The winner was Rollan. His move at Sebring got him the win by just 0.001-second.


The preparation for the 2022 season has already begun, because the first event is only two months away. The season opener at Daytona International Speedway is January 26 – 28.


All of the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Cup races are available on the IMSA YouTube Channel.


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