SANTA ANA, Calif. — Yokohama Tire Corp. has agreed to become the exclusive provider of racing tires for a new road-racing series for Mazda MX-5 (Miata) roadsters that is being promoted as a platform that bridges the gap between amateur and professional racing.
The new series, the Spec MX-5 Challenge, is the initiative of Atlanta Speedwerks, a Cumming, Ga.-based competition shop/racing school, and Winding Road Racing, a unit of Winding Road Media L.L.C., an Austin, Texas-based media group focused on motorsports.
The series, set to launch this year with a dozen race weekends, is designed to slot in between amateur-oriented MX-5 racing series sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and/or the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup professional series.
As such, there now will be four different series dedicated to the Mazda MX-5 with at least three different tire suppliers.
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Inc. recently announced its sponsorship of a Spec Miata championship race during NASA's 2018 national championships, and Michelin's BFGoodrich brand is the tire supplier and presenting sponsor for the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, which is supported by Mazda North American Operations and sanctioned by IndyCar L.L.C.
The SCCA's Spec Miata class covers 1990-2005 model-year Miatas; tire selection it open to any U-rated or better, DOT-approved tire.
Todd Lamb, one of the principals behind the Spec MX-5 Challenge, said, "Yokohama fits the role perfectly" of a tire supplier that could help keep costs down while providing a tire that was durable and performed consistently.
"Yokohama has a long and successful history in road racing, and we're thrilled to have them on board as a marketing partner as well as being designated as the spec tire for the series," he said.
Drew Dayton, Yokohama's motorsport manager, said Yokohama viewed the new series favorably, noting that the "combination of strong drivers…and truly identical cars will make for exciting racing."
Yokohama will supply a version of its Advan racing slick.
The organizers are promoting the Spec MX-5 Challenge as an "arrive-and-drive" series. Interested, qualified drivers can participate for the season for a flat $45,000 fee, which covers rental of a race-prepped car, transport, entry fees, setup, mechanical work/crew, tools, fluids, brakes and tires. The cars available are based on the 160-hp NC generation Mazda MX-5.
The series will be split into two championships — eastern and central, each with six race weekends at race tracks in the respective regions.
The eastern series starts March 9-11 at Virginia International Raceway while the central series starts March 23-25 at NCM Motorsports Park (Bowling Green, Ky.) Both conclude Nov. 2-4 at Road Atlanta.