Meet the Contender: Mark Drennan


Mark Drennan shares his Mazda Road to 24 story and racing down his dream.

Mark Drennan winning and showing he is no stranger to the champagne celebration

“My dream started when I was a little kid,” said Mark Drennan, one of nine finalists vying for the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout $100,000 scholarship. “I loved everything about racing: the beautiful cars, the iconic drivers, and the historic tracks that kept me glued to the TV as I watched my heroes. I spent countless hours recreating those scenes with my Hot Wheels toys before spending every quarter I earned mowing lawns down at the local arcades, dominating anyone who dared challenge me on ‘Sprint’ and ‘Pole Position.’”
After college, Drennan became immersed with computer simulators where he first learned the art of nailing the perfect qualifying lap, and the craft needed to win races. For nearly a decade, he raced people online from around the world on Grand Prix Legends and iRacing.
“Racing finally ‘got real’ for me around 10 years ago when I started frequenting the local indoor kart track before moving up to outdoor race karts, both TaG and shifter karts. From the skills I honed racing on my computer, I was immediately competitive and began what’s become a long string of championship winning performances nearly every year I’ve raced.”
After his success in karting, Drennan started racing sports cars.
“After researching the various classes, Spec Miata was clearly the class to be in because of its relatively inexpensive costs, high car counts, and extremely close competition,” he said. "I bought my first Spec Miata from Brad Rampelberg and won a closely contested regional championship in my rookie year. Brad became a good friend and my racing hero as he went on to blaze the trail to my dreams by winning the ’07 MRT24 Shootout (previously known as the Club Racer Shootout) and later, the ’09 MX-5 Cup Championship.
“I’ve been determined to follow in Brad’s footstep with the goals of winning a national championship in a Mazda, winning the MRT24 Shootout, and winning the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup championship…oh, and go one step further by winning a Rolex watch at the 24 Hours of Daytona! I’m absolutely thrilled to have finally achieved my national championship goal by winning NASA’s Western AND Eastern States Championships in Spec Miata.”
“The assignment [to become a finalist in the MRT24 Shootout]- you have eight days to submit a racing bio, professional resume, social media & website co-op marketing plan, and four minute video detailing your racing goals with detailed plans and funding strategy to achieve them. While the assignment represented a lot of work in a short amount of time, each element made sense and emphasized the components necessary to thrive as a professional racer beyond their scholarship year. As I dialed into the conference call to hear the finalist announcement, I was surprised at the level of emotions and anxiety I was feeling. Had I done enough? What if I don’t make it…and then I heard my name. YES, I’m in!!!
“I was relieved and thrilled to be a finalist for the MRT24 Shootout and one step closer to my dream. But wait, we also needed to generate local press on being one of the top club racers in the country and a leading contender for the scholarship. My best strategy was to partner with 17-year old fellow MRT24 finalist, Mason Filippi. Mason won the West Coast Teen Mazda Challenge and we’ve become friends competing with each other. I drafted a joint press release “High Tech versus High School: Racing for $100K Prize.”
“Next, Mason and I adopted a divide and conquer approach to get the word out and get our story picked. Despite lots of phone calls and emails, I couldn’t get traction with local news outlets but Mason hit it out of the park by landing our story with KTVU Channel 2 news which is scheduled to air on Saturday, November 9.
“It has been a hectic week before the MRT24 Shootout. Monday, I recorded an interview with KTVU Channel 2, then attended the SEMA show in Las Vegas Tuesday and Wednesday. I am testing at Sonoma Raceway Friday morning and then an on-track interview with KTVU before leaving to South Carolina and taking the next step towards my dream of winning the MRT24 Shootout and winning championships as a professional racer.”
To read the full story Mark Drennan created and posted on his blog, click here.