|Mike Cooper, 2011 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion.
Cooper Reflects on MX-5 Championship
When your only expectations of a racing season are to continue to learn and drive as fast as possible, the season is bound to be a success. Indeed, a driver that takes that simple goal, grows throughout the winter and even more during the season, and leaves 2011 as the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup champion has exceeded all expectations and is well on his way to a long and successful racing career.
This year, Mike Cooper is that driver. Unlike many young racers, the 22-year-old Cooper didn’t grow up at the racetrack. Counting two seasons of MX-5 Cup competition, his racing experience totals, well, two seasons of MX-5 Cup competition.
After a driving school, Cooper ran three weekends of the Skip Barber MX-5 Series during the winter of 2010, and decided to run the MX-5 Cup season with Atlanta Motorsports Group just a couple of weeks before the season began. Cooper won once and finished third in the points as a rookie, then won the 2011 opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway in his No. 6 AMG Racing Mazda MX-5 to cement himself as a real contender for the season-long title.
The year of experience clearly made a difference for the Syosset, New York, native. It was early in the season when Cooper decided he might have a real shot at a championship, going on to five wins, two additional podium finishes, and six pole positions in a hotly contested season.
The season's most important lesson may be that a driver who didn’t grow up on the path to Formula One can begin a professional career in the affordable SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.
Now the NYIT business school student is working on the next step of his career, which includes a funded ride up the MAZDASPEED Motorsports ladder, thanks to his championship.
|Richard Meins at Macau in 2010.
United Autosports and GR Asia Field McLaren and Audi for Macau Victory Bid
Leeds-based Anglo-American team United Autosports returns to Macau for only its second visit, November 17–20, with leading British sportscar racer Danny Watts (Thornborough) and Hong Kong-based Briton, Richard Meins, at the wheel of the GR Asia-sponsored cars. However this year, instead of taking the two Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars for Watts and Meins as it did in 2010, the team will race a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 development car, which will be run in conjunction with GR Asia Ltd, one of United Autosports’ Asian partners.
Running the 12C GT3 will be something of a taster for when the team takes possession of its own brace of McLarens at the end of the year, and the experienced Watts will have the reins of the car in Macau in a bid to improve on his third-place finish last year.
Competing in the blue ribbon Macau race amidst its extensive program of worldwide events, gives a clear indication of United Autosports’ commitment and ambition to become one of the leading sportscar teams in the world. Plus, Meins regards this year’s Macau outing as "unfinished business," having had mechanical issues last year, and is determined to take a top finish this time round.
The 58th running of the prestigious Macau 3.8-mile lap races, which attracts over 300 drivers, is headlined by the F3 Macau Grand Prix, and is the only street race in the world with both car and motorcycle competition taking place on the same weekend. This year the Star River-Windsor Arch Macau GT Cup will be a 12-lap counter, two laps more than last year, clearly denoting the popularity of the over-subscribed event.
In addition to the high profile Formula 3 and GT races, the four-day event also features the FIA WTCC – Guia Race of Macau, the CTM Macau Touring Car Cup, the City of Dreams Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, as well as a road sport challenge race.