Mazda Hot Lap Challenge 2018

Mazda continues its support of motorsports with the Mazda Hot Lap Challenge. Mazda has teamed up with iRacing for the 2018 IMSA season to give race fans a taste of motorsports competition at the track…and away from it. The goal is to lay down the fastest lap possible on the racing simulators at the track or on-line. The racers with the quickest times will win a VIP trip to the 2019 Rolex 24 where they will compete for the grand prize – an on track test of the MX-5 Cup Car.

Throughout the 2018 IMSA season the Mazda team has been setting up race simulators in their fan hospitality area at every track IMSA makes a stop at.

The team over at Mazda reached out to us to see if we had a couple of team members that wanted to take on the Hot Lap Challenge. With a driving simulator, time attack challenge, and chance to drive an MX-5 cup car in anger involved, we did not have a shortage of volunteers in the office. We had to resort to advanced means of conflict resolution. So after a few rounds of heated roshambo competition we had our victors. Ian and I would be taking on the Mazda Hot Lap Challenge, but we were thrown an additional twist. We would not be racing from the same location.

One of us would be going to a local iRacing facility in Los Angeles, while the other would be taking a road trip to Monterey to take on the challenge at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca! Being a team player I gladly accepted the responsibility to drive to Monterey to complete that part of the assignment.

As if a road trip to Monterey to watch an IMSA race wasn’t enough to pique my interest, Mazda took things to a completely different level by setting me up with a new MX-5 RF for the trip.  I’m already a huge fan of the RF’s hard top to begin with, but the addition of the Brembo front brake package, BBS wheels, Recaro seats and manual transmission really made this MX-5 the perfect MotoIQ-spec.

I arrived at the track early on Saturday morning and immediately made my way to the Mazda fan hospitality zone which already had fans lining up to get a crack at the driving simulators. The dual simulator set up allows fans to qualify for the Mazda Hot Lap Challenge by taking on the track they’re currently at or on the track that will be used for the final, Daytona International’s 24 Hour course. The young fan above was testing his driving skills around the 2.238 mile long WeatherTech Laguna Seca raceway.

All the simulators use MX-5 Cup Cars as the simulated vehicles. Thankfully the MX-5 Cup Car is a relatively low horsepower racecar, so you can’t get into too much trouble with it. Especially for someone like me who is primarily used to driving front wheel drive racecars. Thankfully I’m quite familiar with the Laguna Seca layout from hours of Grand Turismo training.
Meanwhile, Ian was 300+ miles away at Base51 getting acquainted with their highly advanced simulators.


  1. “The young fan above was testing his driving skills around the 2.238 mile long WeatherTech Laguna Seca raceway.”

    It sure looks like the fan is driving at Daytona International Speedway from what I can see.

    Great article!!!

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