KERSHAW, S.C. (Nov. 17, 2023) – For the 16th consecutive year, Mazda once again staged a shootout among qualified, ambitious, and motivated racers to find the best candidate to earn a significant career boost.
After two days of driving, interviews and analyzing data at Carolina Motorsports Park, three drivers walked away with scholarships to get them into next year’s Mazda MX-5 Cup season. The largest check was handed to Westin Workman, who now has a $110,000 leg-up on his 2024 season. Scholarships valued at $75,000 were also awarded to Nathan Nicholson and Sally Mott.
Workman is a true shootout pro, taking part in the 2020 and 2021 Spec MX-5 Shootout and then the MX-5 Cup Shootout in 2022 and this year. The judges were impressed with Workman’s consistency across all of his track sessions and with personality and attitude away from the track. As the winner of the shootout, Workman has earned a scholarship valued at $110,000 toward participating in the 2024 Mazda MX-5 Cup season.
“I feel amazing,” Workman said. “I’ve been a part of the Shootout since 2020 and continued on with Mazda because the support they give grassroots racers is really amazing. I won the Spec MX-5 Shootout and now to win the MX-5 Cup Shootout is amazing. I knew I was in contention. In middle of the (last) session, the track was getting pretty hot, so I slowed down and tried to cool the tires and the tow was kind of changing on the car, so it was a way to get my head in the right mindset and I set two more consistent laps. I don’t know if that was the deciding factor, but it helped me keep a level head.”
In his first Shootout appearance, Nicholson was selected as a runner-up and recipient of a scholarship valued at $75,000. After leading the regular season points but coming up short in this year’s Spec MX5 National Championship, Nicholson was thrilled just to be selected for the Shootout.
“There’s a difference in money between first and second, but not in opportunity or marketing value,” Nicholson said. “You’re getting backed by Mazda. They’ve helped me so much throughout the year. Coming into this year, this was my goal, to make it here. Mazda helped me the entire year and if you just follow their steps, you’ll get there.”
At each Shootout, a $75,000 scholarship is set aside for the best female driver as part of Mazda Motorsport’s Women in Motorsport Initiative. This year’s recipient, Mott, is fresh off of her MX-5 Cup debut in the 2023 season finale at Road Atlanta. The experience was invaluable.
“I feel pretty pumped,” Mott said. “It doesn’t feel real. I’m really excited and I can’t wait to go racing next season. It’s an honor. I think that the seat time at Road Atlanta helped me tremendously. Getting used to these cars is not an easy task and all the seat time I can get definitely helped. Go Mazda!”
As the popularity of the Shootout grows, so does the level of talent at each one, which makes judging a challenge. This year’s judges were made up of former Mazda pro drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Tom Long, and 2021 MX-5 Cup Shootout winner and 2022 MX-5 Cup Rookie of the Year, Connor Zilisch.
“There was outstanding talent across the board,” said Mazda Motorsports Senior Manager Jonathan Applegate. Every single year we say this, but the talent gets deeper and deeper, better and better. I can find nothing bad to say about any of our candidates. Every single person that came here, to CMP, did their very best on the track, but really the interactions, the connections that we had away from the track and getting to know the person they are as a human being was phenomenal and proves we’re choosing the right people.”
For the first time ever, the Shootout was streamed live on RACER.com and hosted by MX-5 Cup series commentator Shea Adam. That archived coverage can be found here.
The 2024 Mazda MX-5 Cup season begins January 24 – 26 at Daytona International Speedway.