One of the fastest growing race series in the U.S. is the Mazda MX-5 Cup, and the reasons behind its popularity are obvious. Drivers with the motivation, a modicum of talent and limited funding ($10-13k will get you in the door) can experience the thrills of wheel-to-wheel racing at tracks around the country. Few racing series can offer the same bang-for-the-buck action as the MX-5 cup and for many (if not most), it's the realization of a life-long dream.

Until now, there hasn't been much in the way of organized training to get competitors ready for the series, so in partnership with Mazda, Skip Barber will begin offering a three-day training course at its facilities around the U.S.

Based off the same curriculum used to train its open-wheel students, participants will get behind the wheel of race-prepped MX-5s, built to the same specs required in the formal racing series.

The first course will be offered at Laguna Seca this April 27 through 29, with another course on May 21 through 23 at Road America. Other classes will be added throughout the year at Sebring, Daytona and Lime Rock, for the same price as their formula-car school: $3,995.

You can read the full press release after the jump and visit the Skip Barber website for more information.

[Source: Skip Barber]


PRESS RELEASE

SEBRING, Fla. - The Skip Barber Racing School is excited to announce an all-new iteration of its famous three-day competition course. The Skip Barber Mazda MX-5 Cup Three Day Racing School will use Mazda MX-5 race cars built by Skip Barber Racing to the exact same specifications as those raced in the popular SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup series.

That makes this the only three day racing school in North America where students drive the exact same cars as used in a professional racing series.

Scheduled to launch at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in April, the new program is based on the same proven curriculum as Skip Barber's open-wheel formula-car school, but suitably modified to take advantage of not only the unique capabilities of the MX-5, but the vast experience of Skip Barber's many instructors whom currently race closed-wheel sports cars. This is a new capability, unique to the Skip Barber Racing School. The cost, $3,995, is the same as its formula-car school.

"Sedan racing is growing very quickly in North America and we expect to see that trend to continue well into the future,'' said George Ayres, Skip Barber chief operating officer. ''This program will give an extraordinary advantage to the serious amateurs and professionals looking to advance their skills and gain a competitive edge. Much like our famous open-wheel school, we expect auto enthusiasts to gravitate to the program even if they are fully licensed or have already graduated from a Skip Barber open-wheel school.''

The first Mazda MX-5 Cup School is April 27-28-29 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The second is scheduled for May 21-22-23 at Road America, with additional dates at Road America being explored. The MX-5 Cup School will return to Mazda Raceway mid-summer and be available year round there.

By the fall of this year, the MX-5 school will be available at Skip Barber's Florida bases – Sebring International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway – then in the spring of 2008 it will come to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, the fifth base location.

''No one else has a three-day racing school of the type we do, in a car raced by pros. We're confident there is a good market for that,'' explains Ayres. ''Its primary draw, we think, is that this is the only racing school using a car that's currently raced professionally. It's ideal for people looking to race in Grand-Am, ALMS, SCCA and other sedan and sports car championships.

''And because the MX-5 Cup car is a two-seater, instructors and students can ride together for specific on-track exercises.''

Like the successful formula-car three day school, the MX-5 Cup School will emphasize track time combined with the best, most experienced instructor corps in the industry. Participants who complete the school will receive a certificate they can send to the Sport Car Club of America (SCCA) to obtain a regional racing license, the same as for graduates of the formula car school.

Press Release Bullet Points

This is the first and only racing school in North America in which "raw" students – no experience needed – are learning the art and science of race car driving in the very same car as is used in a professional racing series: The SCCA Pro Racing Sirius Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup.

The renowned Skip Barber Three Day Racing School curriculum provides the basic structure for the new MX-5 Cup School, but is modified to account for the unique capabilities of the MX-5, including the opportunity for instructors and students to ride together.

The school leverages the vast experience of Skip Barber's many instructors whom currently race closed-wheel sports cars.

The first two Skip Barber Mazda MX-5 Cup Three Day Racing Schools are scheduled for April 27-29 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) and May 21-23 at Road America.

Skip Barber is the largest, most respected racing school in the world. Established in 1975, its list of now-famous graduates is long and enviable and includes winners and champions in virtually every form of major motorsport: NASCAR Nextel Cup/Busch/Craftsman Truck, Formula 1, IRL, Champ Car, Indy 500, Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona, Rolex Sports Cars, ALMS, 12 Hours of Sebring, A1GP, GP2 – even NHRA drag racing. Some of those grads are: Jeff Gordon, Marco Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Speed, A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Labonte, Bryan Herta, Michael Andretti, Bill Elliott, Sam Hornish, Helio Castroneves, Kenny Schrader, Scott Sharp, Tony Kanaan, Whit Bazemore, Kasey Kahne, Darrell Alderman and dozens of others.

With the just-announced news that the SCCA Pro Racing Sirius Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup champion will be awarded by Mazda a funded drive in the following year's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship, a ''ladder system'' for aspiring sports car racers is now in place.

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