Nick Evans wins Mazda MX-5 Cup shootout

NICK EVANS WINS MAZDA MX-5 CUP SHOOTOUT -- Ohio State University Student will compete in 2010 Playboy MX-5 Cup -- November 19, 2009 (Irvine, Calif.). Nick Evans knows about studying for tests. He is frequently tested as an ...

Nick Evans wins Mazda MX-5 Cup shootout

-- Ohio State University Student will compete in 2010 Playboy MX-5 Cup --

November 19, 2009 (Irvine, Calif.). Nick Evans knows about studying for tests. He is frequently tested as an undergraduate biology major/pre-med student at the Ohio State University. He also tests himself on the racetrack. In September, he earned a 2009 SCCA Runoffs Championship in his Mazda powered Formula Enterprise. Now, after a series of very specialized tests, he will add "professional race driver", to his resume as he moves to the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup for 2010.

Nick will follow in the footsteps of Andrew Caddell, Brad Rampelberg, and Justin Piscitell, the three previous shootout winners. Nick also joins the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver ladder program class of 2010. The MAZDASPEED ladder has been a critical part of the success of young up and coming racers including Raphael Matos, John Edwards, Conor Daly, Joel Miller, Connor De Phillippi, Dane Cameron, Jason Saini, Todd Lamb, Eric Foss, and Adam Christodoulou.

The five finalists:

 * Ryan Ellis Fairfax, Virginia NASA Teen Champion Mazda MX-5 Miata 
 * Nick Evans Hilliard, Ohio SCCA Formula Enterprise FE- Mazda MZR 
 * Steven Gorriaran Providence, Rhode Island SCCA Spec Miata Mazda MX-5 Miata 
 * Bruce Pendleton Oakland, California NASA PTE Mazda MX-5 Miata 
 * Andy Rushing Austin, Texas NASA Spec Miata Mazda MX-5 Miata 

The criteria: Given that each of the five had proven themselves on the track to win a championship, the criteria to move up needed to be more encompassing. To succeed on the professional level requires a balance of both on-track and off-track skills including the following:

* Driving ability -- fast laps

* Driving ability -- consistent laps

* Technical feedback -- Understanding of vehicle dynamics and suspension

* Technical feedback -- Ability to evaluate vehicle handling

* Technical feedback -- Ability to analyze data

* Technical feedback -- Ability to improve vehicle handling

* The business of motorsports -- Business proposal

* The business of motorsports -- Business presentation

* The business of motorsports -- PR Skills

The judges: Each year Mazda invites a panel of outside judges to make the selection. The judges brought a wealth of both on-track, and off-track expertise. Over a dozen professionals were involved in either the preliminary business proposal review, or the on-track activities. The panel consisted of:

* Andy Bornhop -- Managing Editor, Road & Track magazine

* Roger Caddell -- Victory Lane Data

* Charles Espenlaub -- Professional Mazda racer, SPEED World Challenge/GrandAm GT

* Ed Justice Jr. -- President/C.E.O, Justice Brothers Inc.

* Karl Koenigstein -- BFGoodrich Tires

* Roberts Kukainis -- BFGoodrich Tires

* Silvia Mammone -- BFGoodrich Tires

* John Morton -- Veteran road racer

* John Naderi -- Editor,

* Jan Refsdal -- President, Swift Engineering

* Lyn St. James -- Founder, Women in the Winner's Circle Foundation & Driver Development Academy

* Tim Sharp -- Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, professional driver coach

* Jeremy Shaw -- Writer/broadcaster and founder, Team USA Scholarship

* Mark Shuler -- Partner, Tri-Point Motorsports

* Brian Wagner -- Dyson Racing

The tally: After a full day of both driving, and classroom activities, the judges added the objective and subjective scores -- discussing the merits of each driver. It was a very close decision, but the numbers and "gut feelings" were in agreement -- Nick Evans is the newest Mazda professional racer to watch in 2010.

Nick's prize package: The total prize package is valued at over $75,000 and is the largest prize in club racing.

* $50,000 for the running of his car for the season

* $10,000 in parts support

* A Sparco driving suit and helmet

* Professional media training (Courtesy of MAZDASPEED)

* Ten sets of BFGoodrich tires, one set per race (Courtesy of BFGoodrich tires)

* Ten entry fee waivers (Courtesy of SCCA Pro Racing)

The quotes:

Nick Evans: "Wow...After hearing the news I was speechless. All I could say was thank you! I felt so relieved once I won the shootout and for the opportunity to begin my professional racing career with Mazda. I put an enormous effort into the shootout and it paid off. This is really a defining moment in my life. The MAZDASPEED development ladder is truly awesome and puts me on a path to get me to where I want to go. I will soon be battling with the veterans of American sportscar racing and I can't wait. Bring on 2010!"

Steve Sanders -- MAZDASPEED Competition Manager: "This is annually one of the most rewarding yet difficult days for Mazda. We have so many talented club racers it's a huge challenge for the judges to pick just one. We are looking forward to working with Nick in 2010 and would not be surprised to see the other finalists on the grid for the MX-5 Cup in 2010, or at the shootout again next year."

Charles Espenlaub: "Having been involved as a judge in all four MX-5 Cup Shootouts. I can say that every year I am truly amazed at the level of talent in the Mazda family. Everyone should be proud of their performance and abilities both on and off the track. And I can only hope everyone enjoyed the experience as much as I did. "

Lyn St. James: "Mazda is truly committed to a driver development ladder program and reaches out to champions from a variety of categories of grassroots racing with the intent of rewarding them for their excellence. This year's shootout provided the opportunity for a diverse group of drivers to show their stuff, challenge their knowledge, as well as provide them with some important tools that will help them along the way. It was a privilege to be a judge, and extremely difficult to select only one driver to receive the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout Award."

John Morton: "It was exciting to see these young and not so young champions compete for a boost up the difficult ladder they are attempting to climb. I wish them all success and applaud Mazda for giving them the chance that they all earned."

Tim Sharp: "Probably the best Mazda Shootout ever! A very talented group of SCCA and NASA champions who were separated by the slimmest of margins at the end of the day. Judges with decades of experience in road racing and the business of motorsports scoring them. It was gratifying to see how well this year's group of age-diverse drivers got along. With the drivers scoring well in the areas of chassis set up, communications and the motorsports marketing, it really came down to who was the fastest, most consistent driver on the race track. Isn't this the way it should be?"

Mazda is the brand of choice for road-racers across North America. More than 9,000 grassroots racers compete in various classes with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Racers who are years away from earning a driver's license can now begin a professional motorsports careers in the Mazda family. A driver can begin in karts and progress through the Skip Barber series, Club Racing Formula Mazda, professional Star Mazda and finally to Formula Atlantic, all with Mazda. No other car company has ever connected the dots this way.

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the United States in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

-credit: mazdaspeed motorsports

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