MMR Pre-Season Press Release
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Round 1
SALINAS, CA (April 29, 2016) - The inaugural race of the 2016 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires began with an entry list that nearly doubled since last year. Forty drivers participated in today’s race with six of those entries belonging to the newly expanded McCumbee McAleer Racing (MMR) team (Patrick Gallagher, Chris Ohmacht, Justin Raphael, Ari Straus, Max Faulkner, and Nick Igdalsky). After a race which saw dozens of passes, contact, lead changes, and a blistering pace set by the leaders, ultimately it was a McCumbee McAleer Racing Mazda sitting in victory lane at the end of the day with 2015 series runner up, Patrick Gallagher, hoisting the 1st place trophy.
Despite their lack of experience at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monticello Motor Club members, Max Faulkner, Chris Ohmacht, and Justin Raphael began this weekend with enthusiasm and optimism when preparing for their first ever race weekend in the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup. “First practice was terrifying because I have never been on track here before but by the end of 2nd practice I began to feel a bit more confident. . . and in the race I actually got off to a really great start,” said Ohmacht.
Attributing his improvements to time spent with the team and racing coach and driver, Stevan McAleer, Ohmacht understands what he needs to go fast. “The whole team is phenomenal. I like Stevan’s (McAleer) style a lot because I like data. I tend to be very methodical with how I drive . . . The coaching is phenomenal.” This enhanced comfort level spoke for itself on the track in today’s race with Chris gaining five positions from where he sat on the grid.
Max Faulkner, who showed unbelievable speed in his MX-5 Cup debut, managed to pick off position by position with his teammate and gained six positions from the drop of the green flag to the drop of the checkered.
Synonymous with Chris Ohmacht’s first impressions of this track was the emotion felt by Justin Raphael. “This track itself scared me to death at first. It’s a very tricky track with no grip, and I’ve never been here before.” Like Ohmacht, Raphael mentions that the time spent with the team really helped him to become comfortable and confident in the car. “The team has been beyond stellar. I’ve never seen anything like it. They’re so switched on and they really are like a teammate.” When it came time to race, Justin mentions that this race, combined with its standing start, was “one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life.”
Ari Straus, who substituted for his daughter Aurora this weekend in the #17 ModSpace 2016 Mazda MX-5, knows exactly how a top tier racing team should operate. “The team is the best I’ve ever worked with. You can’t ask for a better group of mechanics. The instruction was the best in the entire paddock and I am happy to fill in for my daughter who is doing the whole series.” Ari aims to make tomorrow’s race the highlight of his weekend to add to the momentum of his five positions gained in race number one.
Ari’s uphill battle was complimented by the fight Nick Igdalsky possessed all weekend. Igdalsky, who pilots the #27 ModSpace and Spartan Trailers MX-5, qualified a strong 13th position with his sights set on a top five. Nick looked fearless on track and made passes seem effortless. As the 45 minute race began to wind down, just as Igdalsky made a bold pass for 8th in the corkscrew, he was soon taken out of contention with contact made by another driver on the last lap. “I’m very impressed with what the guys have been able to do and we only made small adjustments since we unloaded off the trailer,” said Igdalsky. “We’ve been running top ten, so I am very happy with that and we were headed to one up until that last lap, but overall these guys did a wonderful job; ModSpace, Spartan Trailers, and the 27 car was pretty sporty today.”
The success of MMR’s first race of the weekend would have already been satisfactory with the performances by these incredible drivers, but Patrick Gallagher set the bar even higher. Starting on the outside pole, he felt he had a good shot at victory coming into today’s race and was aware that the car would come to him as the race progressed. “The ModSpace, Spartan Cargo Trailers, MMR car wasn’t as fast as everyone else at the start by design,” he noted. Although he dropped a few positions at the immediate start, he has too much experience under his belt to have the desire to throw in the towel. “I took my time, didn’t get worked up, and I knew that we were in ninth but I’ve been around this series long enough to know that you can win from there. I picked them off one by one and I can’t say enough about the job these guys have done this weekend. They have 100% made me look good.” Patrick, who battled with John Dean II in the final laps last year said, “I feel like we’re a little bit even now but tomorrow’s a whole new game. He’s a class act, hard guy to pass, and I respect the heck out of him.” So what is Gallagher’s goal for tomorrow? Win again.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Round 2
SALINAS, CA (April 30, 2016) - Round one of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Mazda Raceway was an absolute thriller. Just like race one of the round, race two saw constant lead changes, position swapping, contact, and an overall impressive racing product. Unlike race one, however, this race featured a rolling start rather than a standing start and several yellow flag conditions with multiple drivers making major errors which terminated their chances at a race win. Team McCumbee McAleer Racing (MMR), on the other hand, rose above the dismal fate suffered by those unlucky drivers and managed to come out of #MazdaRaceway with phenomenal performances.
The grid, which was set by qualifying speeds recorded on Friday, placed Patrick Gallagher in the 2nd position, Nick Igdalsky in an impressive 13th, Justin Raphael in 32nd, Max Faulkner in 36th, Chris Ohmacht in the 38th position, and Ari Straus directly behind.
The most incredible outcomes of this race were elicited by MMR drivers Max Faulkner, Justin Raphael, Chris Ohmacht, and Patrick Gallagher; Faulkner, Raphael, and Ohmacht each managed to make up more than 10 positions in this 45 minute race from their initial placement on the grid and Patrick Gallagher led several laps and finished in an incredibly hard fought and well-earned 5th place.
Faulkner, who gained a jaw-dropping 17 positions since the wave of the green flag, said a setup change was the key to his success today. “We changed the setup on the car for today and that helped us tremendously. I was able to make some aggressive moves and I am thrilled about out how our race went today,” Faulkner said post-race. Faulkner, who saw this track for the first time this weekend, seems to have an added level of comfort after each session he participates in and raising the bar for each race to come only seems to be a natural course of progression for this young talent.
Faulkner’s teen-digit overtaking figure was accompanied by Chris Ohmacht’s tear through the field which consisted of 14 positions gained from start to finish. Although he may have made it looks easy from a spectator’s point of view, Ohmacht mentions that the changes in track condition, weather, and car setup played a huge role in deciding the outcome of today’s race. “From start to finish, this race felt better than yesterday’s despite the car’s inclination to push today,” said Ohmacht. “Besides that battle, today was a great race and I feel good going into Watkins Glen. Since I’ve been there before, I know that my track time in practice will be more productive and I feel like it’s my opportunity to get some even greater results.”
Making sure his teammates didn’t steal all of the spotlight was Justin Raphael in the #29 Raphael Racing Mazda MX-5. Raphael made a remarkable 11 passes for position in today’s race and notes that setup changes, comfort, and experience combined to produce this fantastic result today. Post-race, Raphael mentioned that, “Today’s race felt much better than yesterday’s race. I was able to relay what I was battling with yesterday to the team and the setup changes they made for race #2 really aided in getting the car under me. My confidence went through the roof and I was finally able to be aggressive with the car knowing that it would react the way I needed it to.” When asked about how this momentum could carry over to Watkins Glen in a couple of weeks, Justin mentions that, “This weekend highlighted me coming to my competitor’s home track. I’ve recently been to Watkins Glen with the new pavement and this car and none of my competitors have, so now I feel like I have the edge. I’m stoked about it.”
Today’s race also featured a ‘Spartan-like’ performance from Patrick Gallagher, driver of the #72 Spartan Cargo Trailers MX-5. Gallagher spent the first 20 minutes of race number two stalking John Dean II. Although his pursuit was abbreviated on several occasions due to full-course cautions, Gallagher was still able to work his way around Dean with about 15 minutes remaining in the race. At this time, the top 8 cars could figuratively fit under a blanket and were all running within a second of each other until another caution flew. When the race resumed, pure madness ensued and Gallagher was soon swapping positions in the top 6 and recovered impressively well to finish in the 5th spot to be the highest finishing MMR car for the second race in a row.
“We put ourselves in the perfect position to win up until those cautions started flying,” Gallagher stated. “Things got crazy and drivers were passing under yellow and I was kind of a pinball there when the race went back green. Compared to yesterday, it was a bad race for us but when your bad race results in a 5th place finish, you have to be thankful and proud of what this team is capable of.”
The next round of the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup continues at Watkins Glen from May 13th – May 15th. Stay tuned into all of MMR’s social media for team and series updates as well as how you can have a chance to win an autographed McCumbee McAleer Racing hat autographed by inaugural Global MX-5 Cup race-winner Patrick Gallagher and crew chief, James Dyer!
Watkins Glen - Rounds 3 & 4
WATKINS GLEN, NY (May 15, 2016) – The first Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires races at Watkins Glen International were action packed both on the track (great driving) and in the sky (severe rain/cold/almost snow). The weekend concluded with a brand new series leader. It was the fourth winner from the first four races.
Nikko Reger (No. 01 Copeland Motorsports /Rockstar Wigs) used his Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Pro Challenge experience and patience to drive a clean race. With four lead changes in the final four laps, the race was nothing short of thrilling. Reger’s patience paid off. He scored the win after starting 10th and taking the lead on the last lap.
Reger’s teammate, Dean Copeland, finished fourth to increase his points lead in the championship and the pursuit of the $200,000 Mazda Road to 24 scholarship.
Podium performances: Nikko Reger (No. 01 Copeland Motorsports /Rockstar Wigs) from Houston, Texas took the win by 0.213 seconds over race pole sitter Drake Kemper (No. 99 Royal Rugby/Sick Sideways Racing). Nathanial Sparks (No. 8 Sick Sideways/ OOTSK Performance) took third as well as the fastest lap (2.12.041).
How did they do it? Nikko Reger began in 10th and didn’t take the lead until the last lap of the race when a similar penultimate lap incident from yesterday, this time between leaders Mark Drennan and Chris Stone, turned the battle for third into a battle for the win.
Thirty-four cars took to the Watkins Glen International circuit on a blustery and cold Sunday morning for round four of the series. Drake Kemper (No. 99 Royal Rugby/Sick Sideways Racing) began the race on pole by garnering the fastest lap from the very wet Saturday race (2.24.872). Multiple incidents took out almost a dozen cars and resulted in almost 30 minutes of full-course cautions before an intense final few laps.
Who were the hard chargers? Jamie Tucker (No. 97 Auto Technik Racing), making his series debut at Watkins Glen, took the Battery Tender Hard Charger $1,000 award with 19 positions gained, moving from a 24th place starting position to a fifth place finish.
Other notable racers who were in contention for the Battery Tender Hard Charger award included rookies Max Faulkner (No. 82 McCumbee McAleer Racing) and Justin Raphael (No. 29 Monticello Motorsports Club). Both picked up 17 positions. Rookies Michael Collins (No. 75 MEATHEAD Racing) and Andrew List (No. 61 D2D Motorsports) each picked up 16 positions while Chris Ohmacht (No. 92 McCumbee McAleer Racing) picked up 13 positions.
Road America - Rounds 5 & 6
ELKHART LAKE, WI (June 19, 2016) - McCumbee McAleer Racing’s (MMR) Father’s Day race weekend at Road America was filled with action. The lapping began on Wednesday with 2 testing sessions for all of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup teams which led into Thursday’s duel practice sessions. This weekend, drivers Chris Ohmacht (#92), Justin Raphael (#29), Max Faulkner (#82), and Aurora Straus (#17) took to the fast and challenging racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to gain additional experience and further test the waters of their competitive potential.
Both Chris Ohmacht and Justin Raphael laid down some very competitive lap times on Wednesday and Thursday although their weekend track time was slightly abbreviated. Justin left Road America extremely pleased with his progress in the car considering this was only his first outing, and Chris Ohmacht was a contender throughout Race #1 which highlighted his quick adaptability and focus out on the winding Wisconsin track.
Aurora Straus and Max Faulkner completed the weekend after achieving some stats which will keep heads turning in the paddock because this was also their first outing to Road America. Round 6/Race #2 started with Aurora and Max clawing their way to the front. Faulkner seemed to be destined for an impressive finish before he was taken out of the race by a fellow competitor in turn #3. Despite the sudden halt of progress, Max remained positive and is excited to bounce back at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP).
Aurora Straus carried the MMR flag for Round 6 by capturing eight positions from the drop of the green flag to the checkered in her first race appearance at Road America. “I really felt like I was racing to my full potential. I was in a pack of a lot of cars and to make that many clean passes is pretty amazing.” Aurora’s run was obviously impressive and she attributed teamwork with other competitors a reason for moving towards the front. “I was fortunate enough to be racing in a pack with a bunch of drivers who were very respectful to one another. Two of the drivers came up to me after the race to shake my hand and thank me for the clean racing and passing. I am so happy to have gained eight positions but the cherry on top is racing with competitors who are respectful towards one another”. This teamwork was most apparent throughout the last 10 minutes of the race as Straus clawed three positions from her competition. Impressed with the speed of this track, Straus also mentioned that, “This track is so fast! You are diving into these sweeping corners with so much speed and it does a great job of bringing out the strengths and weaknesses of each driver.” Like Faulkner, Straus is excited for CTMP as she looks to keep her momentum going.
Another notable of Round 6 was MMR’s assisting of a fellow competitor, John Dean II, who was searching for a ride after crash damage in Race #1 would seemingly keep him out of contention for Race #2. The team graciously placed Dean in the open seat of an MMR car whose crew chief is Sam Yarbrough. Sam dialed in a setup for Dean which carried him from 34th to 7th position earning them both a Battery Tender Hard Charger award.
After a race weekend which demonstrated MMR’s capability of overcoming challenges on the track to success, they look forward to Rounds 7 & 8 at CTMP from July 8th – 10th which will host the return of live race broadcasts on MazdaLive.com!
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) - Rounds 7 & 8
ONTARIO, CA (July 10, 2016) - McCumbee McAleer Racing’s (MMR) outing to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) was bound to be an interesting one mainly due to the fact that just one of the team’s five drivers has experienced the high-speed twists and turns of the Canadian track before. However, this unfamiliar territory for the drivers was met with an ever progressing MMR team already in their sophomore year. This weekend of confidence building, coaching, track time, and competition ultimately proved to pay off in a big way as the team earned their second Battery Tender Hard Charger award in just four race weekends.
MMR’s race weekend at CTMP began on Thursday when each of the team’s drivers had the opportunity to hone in on how to attack this unfamiliar racetrack with three, 30 minute test sessions. These test sessions were followed by an additional two practice sessions on Friday with the real action taking place on Saturday and Sunday with Qualifying and Rounds 7 & 8 of the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires.
Held on early Saturday morning under clearing skies, Qualifying demonstrated the quick adaptability of the MMR team with each of the five drivers holding their own against the competition. Max Faulkner faired especially well by earning the 19th starting position of 35 cars.
As the day progressed, MMR prepared for Race #1/Round #7 which would kick off at 6:20PM on the same day but, by this time, dark clouds began to roll into the area and the threat of rain became a real possibility. The green flag flew and drivers weren’t fighting for position for more than 10 minutes before the skies opened up over turns 7, 8, and 9. This sudden downpour proved to be no match against MMR as each driver handled the varying track conditions with complete finesse and patience. Aurora Straus, who pilots the #17 ModSpace/Premier Building Systems MX-5, gained three positions from the drop of the green flag, Marc Boily, who was piloting the #72 ModSpace/Spartan Cargo Trailers machine, gained four positions, Chris Ohmacht, in the #92 Monticello Motor Club/CAO Racing Mazda, gained five positions, Justin Raphael, driver of the #29 Monticello Motor Club/Raphael Racing Miata, gained a whopping 10 positions to finish 20th, and Max Faulkner, pilot of the #82 Monticello Motor Club car, came home in the 24th position.
Race #2, which was held on a hot Sunday afternoon on the last day of the race weekend, began at 3:15PM. From the drop of the green flag, the attitude of progress instilled in the MMR team from Race #1 undoubtedly stuck as the team quickly fought to make progress toward the front of the field. Each driver was faring well until, about halfway into the race, there was a massive wreck heading into turn 2 which put the race under red flag conditions. The positive side of this was that MMR was not involved in the crash and no one was hurt, but negatively, the red flag halted the progress of the team.
After 20 minutes of cleanup ensued under the halted track conditions, the race was ultimately called and the checkered flag waved without the race going back to green flag conditions. After showing the field what he is made of in Race #1, Justin Raphael replicated his outstanding progress by gaining another 10 positions and came home in 18th place. This talent-driven leap forward did not go unnoticed as he and crew chief, Sam Yarbrough, earned a Battery Tender Hard Charger award which was the second of the year for Yarbrough.
Justin reflected on this noteworthy progress by saying, “This weekend was phenomenal. Having never been on this stellar track before, it has already become my favorite in the series. I was pretty amped up in qualifying which didn’t enable me to have the starting position that I would have liked, so I had to fight and claw nonstop to move my way forward in both races.” Raphael then went on to talk about his award-winning mentality in Race #2: “I gained 10 positions yesterday which helped me come into the next day feeling really strong. I knew I had to start in the back again but I told myself that I would do whatever it takes to finish in the top 10. If it weren’t for that red flag I think I would have made it all the way up there but overall it was a great to earn this award for the entire MMR team.”
Next up on the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires schedule is rounds 9 and 10 which will be held at Virginia International Raceway on August 27th and 28th. This race will once again be streamed live on MazdaLive.com and it will, as always, showcase the ‘never give up’ attitude of MMR!