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U.S. drivers selected for first Mazda MX-5 Cup Global Invitational

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The 10 drivers from the U.S. have been selected for the first Mazda MX-5 Cup Global Invitational, which will run Sept. 9-11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Those are listed below, via a Mazda release:

Mazda is excited to announce the ten drivers representing the United States at the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Invitational taking place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The select group of U.S. drivers are a diverse unit comprised of past champions, rookies, teenagers and retired executives. Racers will compete with others from across the globe in two non-points, invitation-only races on September 9-11, 2016 as part of a Mazda-exclusive weekend that features both the Mazda Road to Indy and the Mazda Road to 24.

The drivers representing the United States are the following:

John Dean II, Sick Sideways Racing, Sebring, Florida

John Dean II is the defending Battery Tender MX-5 Cup Champion. His championship earned him a Mazda Road to 24 scholarship valued at $200,000 and the right to race in a Mazda Soul Red machine. John is the winningest racer in MX-5 Cup history. He has earned more pole positions and has led more laps than any other driver in the first eight races of 2016. In addition to being a driver, John is the owner of Sick Sideways Racing.

Mark Drennan, Winding Road Team TFB, San Jose, California

Mark Drennan currently sits as the top Rookie in points this season, amassing multiple podium finishes and two wins; he is seventh overall in points. Mark earned a reputation as being the racer to beat in the fierce world of Spec Miata with multiple championships. He is a corporate recruitment executive taking a sabbatical to pursue his racing dream full-time. 

Robby Foley, Atlanta Motorsports Group, Randolph, New Jersey

Robby Foley won last year’s Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge which earned him a Mazda Road to 24 scholarship valued at $100,000 and the right to race in a Mazda Soul Red machine. Robby has scored two race wins so far in 2016. He balances his racing career while being a full-time mechanical engineering student at Auburn University.

Ara Malkhassian, ALARA Racing, Houston, Texas

Ara Makhassian has been a competitor and team owner (ALARA Racing) in the series since its inception in 2006. He currently holds the record for most races started and has scored multiple race wins. Drivers for ALARA Racing have won the series championship in both 2013 and 2014. Ara currently sits in second in the 2016 Championship points standings. ALARA stands for Al+Ara for Alison and Ara Malkhassian, the husband and wife team owners.

Glenn McGee, Sick Sideways Racing, Tampa, Florida

Glenn McGee began his racing journey in front of a computer screen. In the 2015 iRacing Mazda MX-5 Cup, McGee tied for the most poles, most wins, and most world record times, becoming one of two iRacing’s Mazda MX-5 Cup champion representatives in the 2015 Mazda’s Road to 24 Shootout. Glenn left the shootout with the $100,000 Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship.

Sarah Montgomery, ALARA Racing, Lafayette, Louisiana

Sarah Montgomery is a recent college graduate and is the only competitor in the 2016 Battery MX-5 Cup sponsored by a city, her hometown of Lafayette, Louisana. She’s been racing for a decade and started in dirt oval go karts when she was 10 before moving into Spec Miata. After four years of competing in Spec Miata, she moved to the Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge in 2014. Since 2015, she has been racing with ALARA Racing in MX-5 Cup.

Tim Probert, ALARA Racing, Houston, Texas

Tim Probert has been racing in MX-5 Cup since the first season, always with ALARA Racing. In addition to MX-5 Cup, Tim races in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. He is a retired Fortune 500 corporate executive. Tim was born in the U.K, but calls Houston his home now.

Nathanial Sparks, Sick Sideways Racing

Nathanial Sparks has been “Mr. Consistency” in 2016 to lead the championship after eight of 12 races having scored multiple podium finishes. Nathanial started racing in late 2008 and quickly became one of the top Teen Mazda Challenge Spec Miata racers. He is a two-time Mazda Road to 24 Shootout Finalist. Nathanial joined MX-5 Cup as an independent team before joining Sick Sideways Racing.

Chris Stone, ALARA Racing, Salt Lake City, Utah

Chris Stone currently sits in second of the Rookie point standings behind Mark Drennan. Chris’ consistent and clean racing has allowed for a successful rookie year in the series. Chris started his racing career at age six in motorcycle and progressed to karts. Away from the track, Chris is the operations manager for LYFE Motorsports.

Aurora Straus, McCumbee-McAleer Racing, Cold Springs, New York

Aurora Straus is competing in her second season in MX-5 Cup with support from the Monticello Motor Club. When not racing, Aurora is a talented high school student who is looking to study both engineering and English in college. Among her non-driving talents, she is a singer and songwriter.

The Global Competitors: The nine international racers, selected and hosted by Mazda affiliates in Japan, Europe, and Australia, are as follows:

·         Oliver Allwood – United Kingdom
·         Erik Blixit – Sweden
·         Anthony Crawford – Australia
·         Kamil Franczak – Poland
·         Gabriele Gardel – Switzerland
·         Enami Kitahira – Japan
·         Moritz Kranz – Germany
·         Mike Sinclair – Australia
·         Yuui Tsutsumi – Japan

March 29 in Motorsports History: Scott Dixon wins first race after reunification

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Reunited and it felt so good.

That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.

Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead. Photo: Jim Hines/IndyCar.

The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.

In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.

But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.

Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.

On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.

“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.

Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.

Also on this date:

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.

2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.

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