Irvine, Calif. - Patrick Gallagher had an impressive racing resume last week. Now he can add 2012 Mazda Club Racer Shootout winner to his list of accomplishments. Gallagher will follow in the footsteps of Andrew Caddell, Brad Rampelberg, Justin Piscitell, Nick Evans, Scott Shelton, and Elliott Skeer, the six previous Mazda shootout winners.
He also joins the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Driver ladder, which includes the Mazda Road to Indy, program class of 2013. The MAZDASPEED ladder has been a critical part of the success of up-and-coming racers including Raphael Matos, John Edwards, Conor Daly, Joel Miller, Matthew Brabham, Connor De Phillippi, Dane Cameron, Jack Hawksworth, Stevan McAleer, Jason Saini, Todd Lamb, Eric Foss, Michael Cooper, Trent Hindman, Danilo Estrella, Adam Christodoulou, Sage Karam, Spencer Pigot, Felix Serralles, Tristan Vautier, Petri Suvanto, Scott Anderson, and Yago Cesario
When told that he had won the shootout, a prize valued at $75,000, the richest in all of club racing Gallagher was almost speechless, " I don't quite know what to say, It is amazing to have this opportunity. A huge thanks to everyone who helped me get to this point, Mazda, my parents, Howard Concrete Pumping, JAY Motorsports, CTL Engineering, and HKC Support. There is a reason there are more Mazda's road raced on any given weekend than any other brand, they build the best cars in the world and I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of their family.."
The four shootout finalists were:
- Kenton Koch, Skip Barber Racing SchoolMAZDASPEED Challenge Summer Series Champion
- Patrick Gallagher, SCCA Formula Enterprises Champion
- Bruce McNutt, Nova Scotia Spec Miata Champion
- Yiannis Tsiounis, NASA Spec Miata Champion
Charles Espenlaub, who has participated in the selection process in all six previous competitions, commented on the deliberation process; "I am absolutely amazed with the incredible level of talent at the Mazda Club Racer Shootout. This competition this year was the closest ever. The judging process was extremely difficult and made for a virtual photo finish at the end. Congratulations to the competitors, a lot was learned, new friendships formed and the Mazda family gets a little bigger. Good luck to next year's Mazda Club Racing Champions, but a word of advice...You better bring your A-game to this competition, only the best will do!"
The criteria: Given that each of the finalists had proven themselves on the track by winning 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 / Social Media Skills
The driving sessions were conducted at Buttonwillow Raceway Park using a Mazda MX-5 Playboy Cup Car prepared by Tri-Point Motorsports.
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 the preliminary business proposal review, on-track activities, or both. The 2012 panel consisted of:
- Jonathan Bomarito - Professional Mazda racer, SpeedSource
- Charles Espenlaub - Professional Mazda racer, Dempsey Racing
- Pete Evanow - College of Communications and Business, Cal State Fullerton
- John Fabijanic - College of Engineering, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
- Eric Foss - Professional Racer, MAZDASPEED ladder alum
- Karl Koenigstein - Michelin North America
- John Morton - Sports car racing legend
- Mo Murray - Just Marketing, Inc.
- Lisa Natale - Marketing Consultant, Playboy
- Dan Passe - Passe Consulting Inc.
- Jason Penix - Director of Grassroots Initiatives, IndyCar
- Jeremy Shaw - Team USA Scholarship
- Scott Shelton - Director, ABC Full Circle, MAZDASPEED ladder alum
- Steven Cole Smith - Freelance Journalist
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. The judges deliberated carefully before declaring Gallagher the 2012 champion.
The 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 MAZDASPEED driving suit and helmet
- Professional media training (Courtesy of MAZDASPEED)
- BFGoodrich tires, one set per race (Courtesy of BFGoodrich Tires)
- 2013 entry fee waivers (Courtesy of SCCA Pro Racing)