The journey has not slowed down this year. As some of you may know, I moved from Louisiana to Indianapolis in 2020 after winning the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout (and Hurricane Laura). Over my year and a half there, Indy felt more and more like home to me. Living there and contesting an entire season of the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires was just the opportunity I needed to learn and continue to push for the next step of my racing career.
It has been difficult each year to gather the support and funding needed to continue to go racing. Through programs like the Team USA Scholarship and MX-5 Cup Shootout, I have fortunately been able to quickly climb all the way to the professional ranks. However, it is still a great challenge at this level. I have been very fortunate for the opportunity to partner with Future Star Racing for the 2022 MX-5 Cup season with last year’s championship winning team Spark Performance. Future Star Racing helps support talent to the next level of motorsport that otherwise lack the resources to get there. I am doing my very best to use this platform to do just that!
The first two events in Florida have been tricky for us. Daytona was a solid across-the-board performance but fell short of much-needed points after an unavoidable incident in race two put us to the back with very limited green flag laps to follow. We unloaded quickest of anyone at St. Pete. That being said, in MX-5 Cup racing the margin of pace to 20th position was a mere one second. A wild qualifying session with few green laps and some contact had us (and several other contenders) starting pretty far back in both races.
Race one was hot and lots of drivers were burning up their brakes and running up their temps. These machines are reliable, but we certainly put them to the test being in a constant draft with little airflow and tons of bumps and curbs everywhere. I saw 12th position after getting spun in race one as a decent result and comeback from qualifying. Starting further up in race two (10th) we saw this as a podium opportunity with a fast car. At the start, a driver that started over 10 positions back missed the braking point into Turn One, hit the guy in ninth place into me, and he started barrel rolling across the track. Fortunately everyone was okay, but now I had a deep hole from 25th position to climb back from on a track that is very difficult to pass.
From that point, it was a race of patience for me and after a lot of passes and mistakes from other drivers, we finished the race in eighth place! Much like Daytona, we flew under the radar and didn’t get the points we wanted to be championship contenders, but we know we have the pace to run up front and contend for wins. It really helps to have multiple champions around me on the team. Gresham Wagner was the series champion last year and is almost always a contender for race wins, and Nathanial Sparks is not only the team owner but won the driver championship himself in 2016.
In March, I left my Indiana home and started a new journey. I packed as much as I could in my car and drove 36 hours in two days to California. My cat, Morty, just happened to be an angel for 35 hours of it…
I never thought I would wind up here, but I have found myself constantly being pulled to a race track somewhere. Coaching and driving fills my schedule here more than ever before. I also feel like I really fit in with the car/racing community on the West Coast and it’s always a good time. Morty is really enjoying all of the Spec Miatas that come in and out of the garage too!
I’ve been able to fill in the pro racing schedule gaps with regional Spec Miata racing. In three weekends (at Thunderhill and Sonoma Raceway), we’ve scored several wins and pole positions, including a photo finish of 0.001 seconds at the line with my teammate. We had to review the finish with SCCA because it was so close!
It has been a long break in the MX-5 Cup season since St. Pete in February, so I took the time last weekend to go to the IMSA event at Laguna Seca. It was nice to enjoy some racing from the comfort of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo hospitality center (thank you, Chris Ward!), although I sure wish our series would have been there as it has become my favorite tracks in the country. It was a great experience getting to meet several teams and see the racing up close live from pit lane! The nice meals and gelato in the hospitality area were the cherry on top.
The next event on the calendar is the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires event at Mid-Ohio May 13-15. Based on our speed in our last outing at St. Pete, I’m confident we can come out the gate fast again and battle up front.
Thank you to Future Star Racing for the opportunity to return to one of the best racing series in the country. I believe this is the place to be to become one of the next top sports car drivers.
As always, thanks for reading, Aaron