Greenville, SC (January 15th, 2022) - Thunder Bunny Racing and Laura Hayes will soon be making their rookie debut both as a team and driver in the 2022 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Series presented by BFGoodrich Tires. Laura will pilot the #22 TBR, Mazda Motorsports entry for the 2022 season. The first two rounds of fourteen will be held at Daytona International Speedway during the week of the famed Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, January 24th through the 31st.
Last October, Laura was selected as a finalist in the prestigious and very competitive MX-5 Cup shootout at Sebring International Raceway. She left the competition as one of three scholarship recipients, taking home the $75,000 Women's Initiative Scholarship.
"I need to thank Shea Holbrook and Tom Long for mentioning my name to everyone at Mazda Motorsports, which resulted in my invitation to the shootout. If it wasn’t for Shea and Tom, I wouldn't have this opportunity," states Laura. "I also want to extend enormous thanks and appreciation to Mazda Motorsports for taking a chance on me. Unlike most of the other drivers at the shootout, I'd never driven one of the Mazda MX cars. I applied the coaching and input Mazda provided the best I could, got faster every session, and even though there were moments of stress and nerves, I had an absolute blast. I'm honored Mazda saw my potential and have given me this opportunity to represent women in motorsports as the Women's Initiative recipient. I hope this is the beginning of a lasting partnership."
The Women's Initiative Program is Mazda's newest push to help deserving talent connect with opportunity in motorsport. There is an ongoing need for programs that support female drivers and Mazda is committed to providing those opportunities. Mazda saw adding this scholarship to the MX-5 Cup shootout as the ideal way for Mazda to continue the effort in providing emerging female drivers the platform to showcase their talents.
TBR team co-owner, Jim Keown, expresses his excitement of being a part of MX-5 Cup, "Thunder Bunny Racing is excited to support Laura for the 2022 MX-5 Cup season. We are certainly proud she won the Women's Initiative Scholarship last fall and look forward to showcasing not only her talents as a professional racer, but our expertise in the pits and paddock."
Laura continues, "I am so excited to announce I'll be running with my Thunder Bunny Racing family. I've followed the MX Cup series for years, and like anyone who is a fan, you're always on the edge of your seat from the drop of the green to the finish. It's definitely some of the best and most competitive racing out there. These drivers and teams are really on top of their game and I understand there will be learning curve, but I'm up for the challenge, soaking up all the information I can. Taking this next step with TBR only makes sense. I have the utmost confidence in them already knowing the talent, expertise, and dedication they bring to the table. I can’t wait to see what we can do together in this series."
Hayes has been around motorsport her entire life and began racing at the age of eight. Like many young drivers, she began in Quarter Midgets, later transitioning to karts. In 2005, she became the first female to win an International Kart Federation shifter kart national championship in California.
Throughout the years, Hayes has won races and championships, and held track records, in a variety of cars ranging from USAC Ford Focus midgets and sprint cars, NASCAR late model stock cars, open wheel cars with the Sports Car Club of America and endurance sports cars.
TBR will be a new name in the MX-5 Cup paddock, but they are no stranger to the world of motorsports. Located in Greenville, SC, TBR was founded in 2016 by a group of friends with the passion to go racing. TBR has evolved throughout the years and have found success in the endurance racing world accumulating wins, podiums, and an Eastern Championship. They offer arrive and drive programs, including individual driver coaching, in a variety of cars with World Racing League. In June of 2021, Laura and TBR decided to venture into hill climb racing, entering the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. In a very successful run up the mountain against factory teams with much larger budgets and faster cars, Laura finished 5th in class after a rain soaked run, turning the heads of fellow drivers, teams, and the hill climb staff. It proved to be a highlight for both the team and Laura's career. The recent successes TBR and Laura have found together caught the attention of those who recommended her for the Mazda Shootout, resulting in this exciting next phase in their collective careers.