In 2008, Playboy became the title sponsor for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup series. The MX-5 Cup boasted a thirty-percent growth in 2007 and was projected to become the number one spec professional series in the world.

The series is part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder that promotes champions of Mazda series to the next level of their career. The motivation for drivers to enter the MX-5 Cup division is an opportunity to earn a factory-supported ride in next year’s SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship, which is valued at $250,000.

All Mazda MX-5 Cup cars receive only minor upgrades. Bolt-on modifications include a new intake manifold and exhaust system which increases the engine output from 170 to 200-horsepower. All the vehicles are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential.

The suspension uses a coil-over kit with double adjustable shock absorbers and roll bars. Khumo tires are mounted on 17X8” wheels. Brake pads, fluid and lines are upgraded for the demands of racing.

For safety, the Mazdas are fitted with an eight-point roll-cage welded into the car, racing seatbelts and a fire extinguishing system.

The season consists of eight 45-minute timed races. The first event of 2008 will be held in May at Road Atlanta. Three weeks later, teams travel to Canada for round two. There is a break until July and then contests are conducted at Portland and Road America. Following these two races, the series returns to Canada to compete on the streets of Trois-Rivieres. In September, there are race weekends at Miller Motorsports Park and Thunderbolt Raceway. The finale is held in mid-October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Round two of the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup was held at Mosport International Raceway during the Victoria Day Speedfest Weekend. Drivers would compete on the very wet ten-turn 2.459-mile road course for 45-minutes.

The start of round two for the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Leading the field of twenty-three entrants into Mosport International Raceway’s corner one is the pole-sitter, Eric Foss driving the No. 28 Autobahn Mazda sponsored Mazda MX-5. On the inside of Foss is the fourth fastest qualifier and third-place starter, Robert Huffmaster, in the Huffmaster Co. Mazda MX-5.
Robert Huffmaster was the fourth-fastest qualifier, but he started in the third position. The Mazda of the second-fastest qualifier, Brett Smrz, was a few pounds light after the qualifying session and everybody behind him moved up one place. Huffmaster captured the lead on lap-9 and never looked back. Unfortunately, he was fined $500 and penalized 12-points for the use of unapproved insulation but kept the win.
Eric Foss ‘drew first blood’ of the season with a victory in the opening round at Road Atlanta. After qualifying on the pole, it appeared the driver of the Team MER Mazda MX-5 might make it two in a row. Foss pulled away from the field, during the race, but on lap-8, Robert Huffmaster caught him. Looking at the big picture, he chose not to challenge Huffmaster and finished in second place by a margin of 33.316-seconds.
Perhaps more impressive than Robert Huffmaster’s performance in the rain was that of Brett Smrz. The 17-year-old was scheduled to start on the outside of the front row. Sadly, officials discovered that his MX-5 was light after the post-qualifying technical inspection and he was moved to the rear of the grid. Before the end of the first lap, Smrz was in tenth place and made steady progress during the contest to finish third.
Another competitor to excel in the rain was the SCCA Spec Miata National Champion, Brad Rampelberg. Rampelberg was gridded tenth for the start of the 45-minute race in the No. 14 Hooverspeed prepared Mazda MX-5. During the event, he battled with the No. 56 Mazda MX-5 of Todd Buras. At the checkered flag, Rampelberg prevailed and finished in fourth place.
The 2008 podium for round two of the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. In the center is the winner, Rob Huffmaster, who also earned the Hawk Hot Lap award for recording the race’s fastest lap. On the left side of the rostrum is the point’s leader and runner-up finisher, Eric Foss. Brett Smrz, who went from twenty-second place to third in twenty-one-laps, occupied the final position on the podium.

14Rob HuffmasterTeam MER / Huffmaster Co - Mazda MX-521-
21Eric FossTeam MER / Autobarn Mazda - Mazda MX-521-
322Brett SmrzAlara Racing / Smrz Racing - Mazda MX-521-
48Brad RampelbergHooverspeed - Mazda MX-521-
57Todd BurasHooverspeed / - Mazda MX-521-
612Steve WelkUMW Motorwerks / Welk's Auto - Mazda MX-521-
75Anders HainerTeam MER / Under Armour - Mazda MX-521-
810Neal SappHale Motorsports / Patron Tequila - Mazda MX-521-
96Eilvan GoulartGRE / Velocity-Club / Redline - Mazda MX-521-
109Robert MichaelianHooverspeed - Mazda MX-521-
112Christian FranckAlara Racing - Mazda MX-520-
1223Ara MalkhassianAlara Racing - Mazda MX-520-
133Ryan SchimskTeam MER / Airco Mechnical - Mazda MX-520-
1416Alison MalkhassianAlara Racing - Mazda MX-520-
1521Kim OuyeHooverspeed - Mazda MX-520-
1615Tim ProbertAlara Racing - Mazda MX-520-
1718Randy Hale IIIHale Motorsports / Patron Tequila - Mazda MX-520-
1813Harrison WilliamsAlara Racing - Mazda MX-520-
1917Carlos Tesler-MabeAlara Racing / Carmen & Camille - Mazda MX-519-
2019Laura OlsonHooverspeed - Mazda MX-519-
2120Brad AdamsTeam MER / Yo MTV Raps - Mazda MX-519-
2212Deborah LothTeam MER / Loth Endodontics - Mazda MX-518-
2314Forest BarberTeam MER / Feeds the Need - Mazda MX-517-
2424Susan KrohnTeam MER - Mazda MX-50Did Not Start

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