Late last month our own Michael Ashby took to the track in a Mazda2 TCB race car fro the Cadillac Grand Prix and Road America. We added some photos and videos when he was at the race and you can find a comprehensive race recap below.
RACE 1 – Michael Ashby \ Mazda2 TCB
Michael Ashby returned to Road America in the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 TCB racecar for the Cadillac Grand Prix at Road America. Scheduled for two races and one qualifying session, Ashby was ready to take to the track for the first time this year. With the first race results acting as the qualifying event for the 2nd race, Ashby knew he needed to perform exceptionally throughout the weekend to do well and help raise awareness for the Miracles of Mitch foundation.
The qualifying session was held Friday in the early morning which was plagued with two red flags as the track became a mess with two weather-related accidents. Only a handful of cars were able to record valid lap times, this caused Ashby to start at the 14th position.
With Race 1 and 2 on Friday, the heavy fog and rain in the morning was sure to make for an interesting day. Due to the wet track, race officials deemed a rolling start preferential instead of a typical standing start for Race 1.
As the green flag flew, Ashby sped off with hopes of a podium finish. Passing car after car it seemed like Ashby was on pace to take the lead by lap 3. Because the slick roads reduced overall speed the emphasis sided more heavily with taking the proper line allowing for better car control and more exciting racing
Midway through Race 1 Ashby’s cause was helped when two Mini Cooper’s in front of him made contact taking each other out of contention. “Sometimes the easiest passes are made due to other’s mistakes.” said Ashby. “Clearly it isn’t an ideal way to race, expecting others to crash, but motorsports racing can often be measured in inches, and if you are off by a fraction it can lead to some serious issues.”
As the race wore on, Ashby continued his charge to the front. Although the top 3 cars had distanced themselves greatly, Ashby was able to track down Austin Snader in his Fiat 500, ultimately allowing Ashby to overtake and gain the 4th position. Attempting a daring pass on the final lap as the white flag flew, Austin Snader ended up off- line where there was standing water causing him to spin multiple times. With the failed overtake attempt by Snader, Johan Schwartz, in a Honda Fit, moved up to 5th position closing in fast on Ashby. Entering Canada corner Schwartz briefly took a look to the inside, but showed good judgement by backing off rather than risk potential contact with an overzealous move. This left Ashby enough of a gap to fend off a drafting attempt up the main straight on to secure a 4th place finish.
With 10 positions gained throughout Race 1, Sunoco awarded Ashby with the Hard Charger award and was invited to the victory circle. By finishing with the 3rd fastest lap time for Race 1, Ashby earned the 3rd position for the start of Race 2.
RACE 2 – Michael Ashby / Mazda2 TCB
With the sun shining in the late afternoon and the track completely dried out, the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 was fitted with Pirelli racing slicks at the 3rd starting position. With a dry track, race officials determined a standing start was in order. After the Cadillac Pace Car led the parade lap, Ashby and his competition were staged on the flat part of the main straight. Michael was positioned next to TCB Race 1 winner, Paul Holton in his Honda Fit. As the yellow lights came on and the revs began to rise, all it took was the final red light to extinguish and they were off.
Ashby made a decent run maintaining his third position into turn 1 but was shuffled back through the long straight down to turn 5. When entering the middle of turn 5, one the the TC class Nissan Altimas was in the midst of a spin followed by a Mini Cooper. Precisely reacting and performing evasive action to avoid contact with the Mini Cooper at the driver’s door, Ashby made a clean pass leading up to the Corvette bridge. Still mired down by 6th place, Ashby went full throttle heating up the Pirelli race tires to work his way back into contention.
Ultimately, he ended up having a race long battle between Nate Stacy in the Ford Fiesta and Austin Snader in the Fiat 500. All three of them swapping positions multiple times, even during the course of a single lap. On the final lap, Nate Stacy, attempting an outbraking maneuver into turn 5 ended up sliding wide allowing Ashby to overtake him with Austin Snader following close behind. The race wasn’t quite as successful as Round 1 with Ashby finishing a hard fought 5th place.
Overall, it was a great weekend and many people enjoyed seeing a driver who was dedicated to proper race driving and raising awareness for such a worthy foundation. For more info on Miracles of Mitch, please visit