Mazda MX-5 Cup Paddock Celebrated at Annual Awards Banquet

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Mazda MX-5 Cup Paddock Celebrated at Annual Awards Banquet

Following the conclusion of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires season, its top performers were honored at the series’ annual awards banquet. This years event took place at the Lanier Islands Resort in Buford, Georgia.

The star of the banquet was newly crowned champion Jared Thomas (No. 96 JTR Motorsports Engineering). This was Thomas’ third season of Mazda MX-5 Cup competition and in his acceptance speech, he credited his never give up attitude with carrying him to the championship. Thomas thought his racing days were over in 2019 until he won the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout and after a disappointing 2021 season he could have stepped back and focused on running his team, but he opted to return to the driver seat this season. It’s a good thing he did, because in addition to the $250,000 prize from Mazda, Thomas was surprised with a year lease on a new Mazda CX-50.

Connor Zilisch (No. 72 Hixon Motor Sports) got to make two trips to the stage, one for his runner-up finish in the championship and a second for his Rookie of the Year title. He may have fallen 10 points shy of the championship, but Zilisch did take home $80,000 for being the year’s top rookie.

Having passed his 2021 championship crown to Thomas, Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) accepted the trophy for third place in the championship.

Though he finished outside the top three, Selin Rollan (No. 87 Hixon Motor Sports) still appeared on stage to accept the Move of the Year award, which was voted on by fans. His miraculous climb through the field in the first corners of Daytona Race One earned the most votes on the MX-5 Cup Facebook page. It was Rollan’s second Move of the Year Award in-a-row.

Hixon Motor Sports took home its first Team of the Year trophy, outscoring runner-up McCumbee McAleer Racing by 255 points. Team owner Bryan Hixon and his mother Karen were also honored with the Spirit of Mazda award for their selfless support of the series.

Another member of Hixon Motor Sports, Jack Schumacher, was named Mechanic of the Year, an award voted on by the series technical staff.

The VP Fuels Clean Image Award went to Copeland Motorsports for having the best, most professional paddock setup of the year.

It’s a short offseason for Mazda MX-5 Cup teams as they prepare for the start of the 2023 championship, January 25 – 27, at Daytona International Raceway. Next year the competition will face off for more than $1 million in prize money from Mazda.