GLOBAL MX-5 CUP champion, Patrick Gallagher Visits Japan
Patrick Gallagher (25 y/o), who displayed a dominating performance throughout the 12 races of the US GLOBAL MX-5 CUP, while competing at major circuits all over North America, while also going on to win the GLOBAL MX-5 CUP challenge held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October, came out to visit Japan, the home of Mazda.
Mazda Motorsports places a high value on supporting the endeavors of numerous young drivers, whether it be in Japan, the United States or anywhere else in the world. In order to spread the message that the MX-5 / Roadster is an indispensable car for young motorsports enthusiasts, as well as deepen the relationship between one of America’s top drivers, Japanese drivers and their fans, the 2017 GLOBAL MX-5 CUP champion, Gallagher, was invited to participate in the Mazda Fan Festa in Okayama, the biggest domestic Mazda fan festival, that was held on December 2nd to 3rd.
Patrick Gallagher was born in Thornville, Ohio on October 6th 1992. He grew up on a farm and his father raced Mazda RX-7s in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Patrick started racing at the age of 6 years old, racing quarter midgets, then moved on to go-karts, then open wheel cars in the Formula SCCA (Formula Enterprises), which are powered by 2.3L Mazda MZR engines. He won the Formula SCCA championship and then got selected for the Mazda Club Racing Shootout where he won again and moved up to the Mazda MX-5 Cup. He raced there for a few years and then raced in the Pirelli World Challenge for a year before coming back to the MX-5 Cup for this season. After taking 13 podiums out of 14 races, 9 of which were race wins, he took home the season championship. When asked how he was so successful, the always humble Gallagher stated, “It was certainly down to the McCumbee McAleer Racing team. Chad McCumbee, Stevan McAleer, my crew chief, Jim Vaan. They are just world class guys.” In spite of this successful racing career, this was his first time travelling outside of North America.
At the Okayama International Circuit event he joined Takayuki Oi, the Japanese media representative for this year’s GLOBAL MX-5 CUP Challenge, and Yui Tsutsumi, last year’s Japanese delegate to the GLOBAL MX-5 CUP Invitational, to perform a demonstration run of the MX-5 CUP cars. He also appeared on the talk stage, and was able to meet numerous Japanese fans during the autograph session. “This is my first time to come to Japan but all the Japanese Mazda fans have been so welcoming and I have been really impressed by all the legendary Mazda race cars as well as the modern cars. There are so many cool race and road cars that fans from all over Japan have brought out,” Gallagher related.
On the evening of the 2nd, he participated in an appreciation party in which all the Mazda executives took part. A surprise decoration cake celebrating Gallagher’s double title win was presented to him at the end of the celebration. “When I heard the words of congratulations from all the Mazda officials, legendary racecar drivers and all the fans, I truly felt that this year was a truly blessed season.”
After the two-day event schedule was completed Gallagher moved on to Hiroshima. There he tried Hiroshima’s own “soul food,” Okonomiyaki with Mazda and MZRacing staff. No stranger to taking on new challenges, Gallagher didn’t shy away from ingredients that he could not easily get in Chicago such as oyster teppanyaki, urchin-watercress, and the such. “Okonomiyaki and the other iron plate dishes were amazing,” he stated, clearly satisfied. The next day, he was told of Mazda’s history, its facilities and production capacity at the Mazda Museum inside Mazda HQ. He was also given the opportunity to observe the vehicle assembly line. In the afternoon, he visited the Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Castle. After this fairly grueling schedule he then headed to Kansai Airport on the Shinkansen before flying home.
“I am truly thankful to Mazda USA, Mazda Japan, the event organizer B-Sports who gave me such an amazing opportunity. I got so much out of this tour. I was able to meet so many fans at Okayama International Circuit and then at Hiroshima I learned such a great deal about Mazda and the history of the city. Since I majored in engineering at university, I was particularly interested in the automobile manufacturing line. The organization of the planned assembly line was amazing. It was particularly impressive that such a complex combination of operations could function so quickly and without fault. I really wish I could have stayed in Japan longer. If I ever receive another opportunity I would love to come out here again,” Gallagher said as he departed and headed towards the airport and ultimately his home in America.
- Video Report MX-5 Cup Champ goes to Japan
Text and Photos by MZRacing