Auto racing is one of the most financially demanding sports there are, with salaries for top drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Nico Roseberg and Sebastian Vettel (just to name a few) commanding salaries in the millions each year. And while teams such as Mercedes and Ferrari are able to earn enough keep their teams at the top, others, such as Sauber continue to struggle, despite their own talent. In fact, the sad truth is that driving skills are only half the road to ultimate success, whether in F1, IndyCar or NASCAR. The rest depends on having sponsors with deep pockets, as well as personal resources and top crews.Without them many potential champions simply never get the same opportunities as more established teams.
As a result, Mazda has been offering $100,000 scholarships to its Spec Miata classes since 2006 in order to provide a single talented (blue-collar) racer the chance to prove him or herself each year.. To qualify an individual has to have won both a grassroots championship and “offer the best blend of driving skill, commerce comprehension, and technical expertise exhibited during the company’s “Road to 24 Shootout,” such as 19-year old Robby Foley, who made his 2016 season debut on Friday, April 29 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA.
When not at the racetrack, Foley is a full-time engineering student at Auburn University. Foley has been working on his motorsports engineering skills at school as a member of the Auburn Formula SAE team. According to the company, Foley has elected to take his scholarship money to the Atlanta Motorsports Group racing team, and will compete in the 2016 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. The MX-5 Cup is the signature series for the Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24), the sports car counterpart to the Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI).
The winner of the MX-5 Cup earns a $200,000 scholarship to further their racing career. On both roads, Mazda-powered champions earn a Mazda scholarship to advance their career, either toward a goal in the IMSA Mazda Prototype (#MRT24) or the IndyCar Indy Lights (#MRTI) car. This season, the MX-5 Cup season will feature the all-new 4th generation Mazda MX-5 Miata.
For the first time, Mazda has commissioned complete turnkey racecars, ensuring all cars are as “close to identical as possible,” and all to ensure the best drivers rise to the top. The initial orders for the new racecar were accepted starting on October 1, 2015, and within the first 36 hours after the announcement, more than 40 racers placed $10,000 deposits for the $53,000 racecar. To date 60 out of the 90 cars ordered have already been delivered.