Andy Lally closes season with $50K Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Challenge pursuit
By Marshall Pruett | RACER magazine and RACER.com sports car correspondent
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship star Andy Lally has packed his bags, grabbed his skateboard, and is headed for Sebring International Raceway in pursuit of the $50,000 prize Mazda has put up to win the Global MX-5 Cup Challenge event.
As part of IMSA’s Michelin Encore weekend at Sebring, the buzzing swarm of Mazda MX-5s will add plenty of fun to the mix as a pair of 45-minute races will be held, with the best average finishing position across both being used to determine the winner. Second place is worth $20,000, and third will receive $10,000.
“It started out as a conversation where my buddy Todd Lamb, who we used to race karts against each other 25 years ago, have stayed friends, we live pretty close to each other, and when this race at Sebring popped up, he called me and told me about the race, that Mazda put up 50 grand to win, 20 grand for second, and he needed a drafting partner!” he told RACER.
“I haven’t raced anything like an MX-5 Cup car for a while, and it’s amazing they put up this kind of money for a one-off event, and when the opportunity came up with Todd, I thought it’s getting cold in Georgia, so maybe it’s time to head to Florida and stay warm.”
No matter how many wins he’s earned at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and all the other major sports car victories Lally’s taken over the years, not to mention Lamb’s success in the sport, both are fully aware that getting their hands on Mazda’s money will not be easy.
“We’re both smart enough and have seen enough of the intense racing in the MX-5 Cup to know you can’t make a plan like that,” Lally said.
“We’re gonna work together in the races, but everything’s got to be fluid. Up to the checkered flag, there’s no guarantee, so we have to play everything by ear. We’ll both be going for it. If we’re close on the last lap, we’ll see what happens.”
In what could be described as a reverse evolutionary chart for race cars, Lally has wielded 800hp NASCAR Xfinity machines in 2018, 500hp Audi R8 LMS GT3s for Magnus Racing in IMSA, and will drop down to 200hp on his Global MX-5 cup debut.
“It’s a different car than I normally race, but not far off some others I’ve driven in the past,” he added. “Somebody asked me if I was worried about going down to a ladder series and having a target on my back or if I’d hurt my reputation by getting beat. But it’s not about that. It’s about having fun. Between GT3 racing and NASCAR Xfinity racing, those cars can’t be further apart, and to end the year on a lower power car where you have to carry mid-corner speed will be the fun.
“The added incentive of 50 grand for the win is amazing. I think we’ll see in years to come, with more pro guys coming down to do this race, they’ll have to check their egos at the door, swing the bat, and see if they can take home the big prize!”
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ABOUT MARSHALL PRUETT
The 2018 season marks Marshall Pruett's 32nd year working in the sport. In his role today for RACER, Pruett covers open-wheel and sports car racing as a writer, reporter, photographer, and filmmaker. In his previous career, he served as a mechanic, engineer, and team manager in a variety of series, including IndyCar, IMSA, and World Challenge.