SEBRING, Florida (16 February 2015) - North Carolina’s Chad McCumbee will join forces with 2012 Playboy MX-5 Cup Champion Stevan McAleer to create a new racing team set to take on the 2015 MX-5 Cup by storm. The new team will be named McCumbee McAleer Racing (MMR), but representing their partner, they will compete in the Mazda Mx5 Cup Championship as ModSpace Motorsports.
Based in McCumbee’s hometown of Supply, North Carolina, MMR features what is one of the most competitive driver pairings in North American road racing. McCumbee (30) is a former stock car driver with four years of experience in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Sprint Cup Series, and recently moved into the world of sports car racing, driving for Mazda. His first ever sports car race took place the same weekend as McAleer’s, in the 2012 Playboy Mazda Mx5 Cup, where Stevan would go on to win the Championship that year under CJ Wilson Racing. During the past few seasons, Stevan has been a first-hand witness to McCumbee’s rapid transition to road racing.
“He has completed this transition into sports cars unbelievably, with a number of pole positions and running up front in the IMSA Continental Tire Series,” said McAleer. “I am very happy to have him as a team mate for the second year running.”
A resident of Cold Spring, New York, McAleer (30) is a native of Glasgow, Scotland who won the 2012 MX5 Playboy Club Championship with CJ Wilson Racing in dominating fashion. The 4-time Scottish Open karting champion was again at the wheel of an MX-5 in 2013 and 2014. Competing in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Championship with CJ Wilson Racing and ModSpace Motorsports, Stevan has forged a reputation for sheer speed and precise aggressiveness.
Last year, McAleer joined McCumbee in the ModSpace Motorsports MX-5, and the combination proved to be extremely competitive in the IMSA Continental Tire Series with a string of podium finishes at Sebring, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park and Watkins Glen in the Street Tuner division.
“ModSpace is proud to be aligned this year with MMR and Mazda,” stated William Mann, Vice President of Motorsports for ModSpace. “This year marks the fourth season that ModSpace and Mazda have partnered in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series. However, this is an exciting new venture for Chad (McCumbee) and Stevan (McAleer) as owners. As team owners, this is a great opportunity for these drivers to pass along their knowledge to other young competitors coming up through the ranks. Chad and Stevan are demonstrating that there is no limit to what you can achieve when you are dedicated and committed to this industry. ModSpace knows that with their racing and business experience, they will be a winning team. Our organization is excited to be a part of it.”
With an already successful chemistry, McCumbee hopes that the creation of McCumbee McAleer Racing will prove to be the right catalyst.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity to be teamed with Stevan, not only as co-drivers, but now as business partners,” he said. “As different as our career paths have been, it has created a very successful combination on the track and I see nothing but positives in our ownership roles. Since my move from professional stock car racing into sports cars, I have always been behind the wheel of a Mazda. The chance to become a larger part of the Mazda family is a very exciting opportunity.”
“This will be a new step for Chad and myself starting off this new team and the start of another journey for ModSpace Motorsports,” said MX-5 veteran McAleer.
MMR will be ready for action this March 18th at Sebring, for the opening round of the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup. Full website and social media to come soon.
SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup
Known for close, exciting and competitive racing, the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup pits similarly-prepared Mazda MX-5 with limited modifications allowed, on a schedule comprised of some of the most celebrated tracks in North America. MMR will carry the ModSpace banner to such storied and legendary venues as Sebring, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta, among others. For more information, go to http://www.mx-5cup.com.
ModSpace Motorsports is a division of the Modular Space Corporation (ModSpace), a leading provider of modular building, storage and services for temporary or permanent space needs, based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. From furniture and steps, to storage and wireless security, ModSpace provides everything needed for accessibility, protection, comfort and productivity in modular units. ModSpace has completed major modular building projects and related services for many prestigious clients, including Pfizer, Boeing, Eli Lilly, General Motors, Motorola and the U.S. Army. Lasting success, now and in the future, depends on innovation, quality, service and value. ModSpace Motorsports’ support of McCumbee McAleer Racing follows this tradition. Learn more about ModSpace at http://www.modspace.com/about-modspace/our-story.
MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA, APRIL 30TH, 2016
McCumbee, McAleer Stop Teammate Carbonell, Extend Freedom Autosport, Mazda Streaks
Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer extended Mazda and Freedom Autosport’s streak to six consecutive Street Tuner (ST) victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The 2015 ST champions won for the first time in 2016 in the No. 25 ModSpace Mazda MX-5. McAleer took the checkered flag 4.842 seconds ahead of teammate Andrew Carbonell, ending his three-race victory streak at the track in the No. 26 SemperFiFund.org Mazda MX-5 started by Liam Dwyer.
McCumbee started third and was involved in a terrific hour-long fight for the lead with TOTAL Pole Award winner James Clay in the No. 84 BimmerWorld Racing OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i, and Chad Gilsinger in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si. McCumbee passed Gilsinger to finally take the lead on the 33rd lap, and then joined McAleer in leading all but one of the remaining circuits.
“I was thinking to myself that it had to be a great show,” McCumbee said. “We were going back and forth, and those guys were working really hard. Then it was time to go, and I had to be a little aggressive and throw it in there to get the lead. At the end of the day, the Mazda was the easiest on the tires, and the best car for this race.”
Eric Foss took third in the No. 56 Murillo Racing/Mosing Motorcars Porsche Cayman started by Jeff Mosing. Foss passed Tyler Cooke in the No. 84 BMW started by Clay on the final lap. Gilsinger and Cameron Lawrence finished fifth.
Lime Rock Park Victory - Via IMSA.com
Taking a page from 2015, Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer combined to lead 107 of 147 laps en route to their second victory of the season in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport ModSpace Mazda MX-5. Last year, the championship-bound duo led 85 laps co-driving for CJ Wilson Racing.
“Chad did a fantastic job, getting the car in front, and that makes my job much easier,” McAleer said. “I was running good laps, getting a reading every five or six laps to see how far back the second and third place cars were.”
It was a podium sweep for Mazda, with Terry Borcheller and Christian Szymczak placing second in the No. 34 Alara Racing MX-5, 10.660 seconds back, with Liam Dwyer and Andrew Carbonell in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport SemperFiFund.org Mazda.
“It’s always great to come back home to Lime Rock, a half-hour from where I grew up,” said Dwyer, a former resident of Litchfield who scored his first career victory at the circuit in 2014. “I qualified well, raced well and finished on the podium. Today was a huge win for Freedom, and more importantly, it was fantastic seeing Mazda finish 1-2-3 on the podium. Maybe today will turn our season around.”
Nick Galante and Spencer Pumpelly combined to finish fourth in the No. 17 RS1 Legistics/RickieFowler.com Porsche Cayman. Entering the race with a 14-point lead in the standings, they now unofficially lead McCumbee and McAleer by seven points, 173-166.
Two ST contenders who were running in the top four in the championship fell by the wayside in the opening 40 minutes. Sarah Cattaneo had to park the No. 44 CRG-I Do Borrow Nissan Altima Coupe, while Chad Gilsinger went out with engine problems in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si.
McCumbee, McAleer Close In On ST Lead at VIR
ALTON, Va.—Freedom Autosport’s Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer closed in on the ST championship lead in Saturday’s IMSA Continental Tire Series race at Virginia International Raceway. The co-drivers finished seventh in the No. 25 ModSpace/Premier Building Systems/Spartan Cargo Trailers Mazda MX-5, and they are now just six points away from the ST lead.
McCumbee qualified tenth in the No. 25 Mazda. In the opening laps, he navigated some rain to his advantage until a red flag came out as the deluge worsened. When the green flag flew again with only 45 minutes left on the clock, McAleer found himself in the race lead thanks to a great pit strategy. McCumbee and McAleer went on to finish seventh.
“We got off to a really good start and were able to pick off a few positions,” said McCumbee. “The little bit of drizzle actually helped us! The guys at Freedom did an amazing job with strategy, so we pitted before the downpour came, which allowed us to get out and lead later. It’s probably some of the worst conditions I’ve ever driven in, but we were able to keep our ModSpace Mazda up front to gain some more points in the championship.”
McAleer said, “It didn’t go as well as we wanted in terms of a result, but the ST leader had a more disappointing weekend than us, so to come away from VIR with an eight-point gain on the number one car makes us really happy. We’re very strong at Circuit of the Americas and Freedom Autosport had a strong car at Road Atlanta last year, so we should be able to run near the front at the final two rounds.”
A Story of Intense Mazda Teamwork Could Mean a Championship
IRVINE, Calif. (September 23, 2016) – Next Friday afternoon at Road Atlanta, co-drivers Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer will be striving to earn a second straight championship in the Street Tuner (ST) class of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Driving for the Freedom Autosport team, which is based at Road Atlanta, they lead the point standings by eight over the second-place drivers and by 10 points over third place. They are trying to become the first duo to win back-to-back titles in the history of the Continental Tire series, while Freedom Autosport is striving for its first team championship. The Road Atlanta 150 will determine the champions in a two-hour, 30 minute race on September 30 as a featured part of the Petit Le Mans weekend. Mazda and Mazda-powered race cars will compete in three other categories at the season-ending event.
But, McCumbee and McAleer who have two victories this season, might very well have trailed significantly in points if not for some extreme teamwork in last week’s race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Mazda always stresses close teamwork and a family approach among all of its racing categories and teams, but no greater display of that spirit had been seen before that race.
From the start, McCumbee streaked away from the field at COTA in the No. 25 ModSpace-backed Mazda MX-5, building a 20-second lead until he pulled into pit lane to hand the car to co-driver McAleer at the halfway point of the race. They had begun the day in second place in the standings, but the leaders had serious mechanical issues from the start. It seemed a perfect day to capitalize with maximum points.
“When I left pit lane, the car was super hooked-up,” said McAleer, who was expecting a victory. “From the get-go, I was trying to save the brakes and the transmission and not overdrive the car or use any of the curbs just so we could make sure we could get through to the end.”
But, in racing, things are rarely simple. Fifteen minutes later, after a balky shift, McAleer radioed his crew. “Hey guys, we’re probably going to have an issue with third gear…” The very next lap, he lost third gear entirely with an hour remaining in the race.
While it slowed his pace, McAleer lost only a few positions. Then, almost simultaneously, fourth gear and the car’s ABS [anti-lock braking] system failed. “Guys, we’re in trouble” he radioed. “I only have second and fifth gear now.”
While McAleer was having issues in the No. 25 Mazda, his teammates Liam Dwyer and Andrew Carbonell were having troubles of their own in the No. 26 car. In a season rocked by bad luck, they had suffered a broken axle. But, the crew jumped to fix the problem in less than an hour to allow Carbonell an opportunity to finish the race.
As Carbonell pulled back onto the track, his radio crackled. “Hey Andrew, the No. 25 is having gearbox issues…” At the time, Miami-native Carbonell understood McAleer had only lost one gear, and was more worried about his own race car. “Let me make sure our car works,” Carbonell told the crew. “We just rebuilt the rear end and suspension. Let’s make sure our car corners and brakes. And then I’ll do what I can.”
As Carbonell gained confidence in his own Mazda, he pulled behind McAleer’s MX-5. Using the front bumper, Carbonell pushed McAleer’s Mazda out of the turns and down the straights to help compensate for the missing gears. After five laps of being pushed, the Scottish-born McAleer was back on the radio. “Guys, it’s not looking good. I’ve lost second gear. I only have fifth gear.”
“I was trying to roll as much entry speed as I could, more than anyone would normally use,” said McAleer. “I knew I had Andrew to push me out of the corners.”
“I was there to push him to get him up to speed,” said Carbonell. But it wasn’t easy. “It was a fine, fine balance. I also had to keep my car cool. As hot as it was at COTA, we were seeing some extreme temperatures. I was doing everything I could to manage his time loss, our engine heating and the championship points. It would have been bad to have his car lose a gearbox and my car blows a motor!”
With Carbonell strategically nudging McAleer, he also backed off as to not upset the front car in any of the 20 challenging corners at COTA. As the checkered flag flew, the two cars crossed the line as if tied together. With the generosity of their teammates, McCumbee and McAleer finished seventh to take over the points lead with one race remaining.
“Definitely a turn of luck,” McAleer said. “We thought we had the win - we should have had the win - and then we thought we would have a DNF [did not finish], so we were very excited to get away with seventh place. There were so many things that fell in line for us. If they threw a full-course yellow at any point in the last 30 minutes, we were absolutely going to have a problem. We would have had serious issues. If Chad hadn’t built up a 20-second lead, then we wouldn’t have finished seventh.”
Carbonell explained how a rough afternoon turned into a success.
“It was nice, in the big picture, that our unfortunate event turned into a moment of grace for our teammates,” Carbonell said. “Freedom did a good job of getting the car back together and we were able to rejoin the race. Obviously, we’re all competitors, we all race each other, but as a Mazda competitor, as we always say, it’s a family mentality. Just like you’d help a brother or sister, I was going to help my teammate.”
“It was exciting and it was huge teamwork,” said a grateful McAleer about the push to the finish. “That’s obviously something that Mazda does really well: teamwork. It was super nice to get a little help.”
“I had people come up to me after the race and say that was the purest example of teamwork that they had ever seen,” laughed Carbonell. “That was incredible. Plenty of people came after the race to comment on that. To come away with a seventh place finish - with ONE gear - that should have been a 20th-place finish at best. It was amazing what we were able to salvage.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE
“Road Atlanta has always been a good place for our Mazdas,” said Carbonell. “It has a long straightway, but it is a very technical track. Freedom Autosport is based out of shops at Road Atlanta, so it’s our home track. We were able to test there halfway through the season and we developed a good package for the race. If they win the title, I’ll be extremely happy that Freedom Autosport has worked toward the championship for eight years now and it’ll be a great moment to see all of their hard effort culminate into a championship result.”
As for the title contenders, McAleer is cautiously confident.
“I am confident at one of my favorite tracks on the continent,” he said. “The Porsches [the main competitors for the title] are pretty damn good here, and there’s so many of them. I think we’re going to have a hard time, but the exciting thing is that Chad and Andrew did a test here a couple of months ago. Chad was blown away with the pace the car had compared to last year. Andrew also said that the setup changes were also a gain. We might have an exciting car with us, and if it’s anywhere like those guys said it would be, I fully expect another championship next weekend.”
GOING FOR HISTORY
McCumbee and McAleer are attempting to win back-to-back titles, something no pair of drivers have achieved in the history of what is now called the Continental Tire series. Individually, David Haskell, who now runs the engine department at SpeedSource, Mazda’s factory team in the Prototype division, won back-to-back ST driver titles in 2004 and 2005, the first with Mazda co-driver/team owner Sylvain Tremblay, and the second as the sole champion. Will Nonnamaker also won the ST class in 2001 and 2002 with different co-drivers.
Disappointing End to a Strong Season
BRASELTON, Ga.—After an exciting IMSA Continental Tire Series season that included two wins, two podiums and a bid for the ST championship, Freedom Autosport had a disappointing finale at Road Atlanta that saw trouble for all three of its Mazda MX-5s.
The No. 25 ModSpace/Premier Building Systems/Spartan Cargo Trailers Mazda MX-5 of Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer moved into the ST points lead during round nine, so the co-drivers entered the final round with an eight-point advantage. McCumbee qualified third and, despite dropping back at the start, was in third after the first hour of the race—an especially impressive feat since McCumbee was racing with a broken right wrist.
McAleer drove the second stint and led the race at one point, but he pitted with fatal engine problems with just 18 minutes remaining in the 2.5-hour race.
The No. 25 Mazda ended the season fourth in ST points after a stellar year that included two wins and three fourth-place finishes. In fact, McCumbee and McAleer finished eighth or better in eight out of ten races.
Reflecting on the season, McCumbee said, “Overall it was an amazing year, from a pace and execution standpoint. Our entire ModSpace team did a great job. We were in a position to win yet another championship, and we just had a few little issues that are a part of the game we play. Everybody put a tremendous amount of effort into this event, and it showed, because even with my issues, we were still one of the fastest cars on the race track. Hats off to all the guys at Freedom, they worked their butts off. We deserved this championship, but we’ll start talking about next year and what it holds.”
“We were excited in October of last year to hear that we were joining Freedom Autosport with our ModSpace Mazda MX-5. They gave us a strong car all season, and we just got caught out with a couple of mechanical failures,” said McAleer. “I can comfortably say that (eventual ST championship winners) Spencer and Nick had nothing for us today, and I think that showed on the last restart. It’s a tough one to swallow, but we’ll bounce back.”