M1 Racing’s Acosta Is Ready for Pro Mazda Season Opener at COTA
 February 26, 2013| 
  • Team News

CRESSON, Texas — It’s been a busy 16 weeks for M1 Racing owner Paul Mata and his rookie driver, Juan Camilo Acosta.

Mata, of Dallas, formed M1 Racing on Nov. 4 when the team he managed closed its formula car operations.

Since then he has not only organized his new team from the ground up, but he has spent 33 days testing with Acosta in preparation for the season-opening doubleheader of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires this Friday and Saturday at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

Acosta, 22, of Cali, Colombia, will drive the Cresson, Texas-based team’s beautiful yellow and white No. 11. It is sponsored by Studio F and Ela, two young women’s clothing lines.

Although he has impressive karting credentials, Acosta had limited formula car experience before he joined M1 Racing.  He drove a Star Mazda car for the first time on Oct. 10.

Since M1 Racing’s formation he has logged hundreds of miles, however.

Since November the team has tested at 10 different tracks in five states: Texas, Oklahoma, California, Arizona and Florida. Some of its team members spent literally months away from their families.  All worked very hard to be ready for the season opener, and now they hope to see some of that work pay off.

They tested at the team’s home base at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas and three other Texas tracks: Eagle Canyon Raceway, MSR Houston and COTA.  M1 Racing also visited Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Jennings, Okla. and Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., during the off season.  It also tested at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway and Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California, and it participated in the series’ tests in Florida at Palm Beach International Raceway and Sebring International Raceway.

Through it all Acosta was constantly sharpening his game on the track while Mata and team manager/engineer Remi Lanteigne were organizing things off the track.

“The toughest part was doing as much testing as Juan wanted to do while trying to do all the logistics of organizing a professional race team,” Mata said.  “The series’ switch from Goodyear to Cooper Tires made a huge difference with our set-ups.  We did 18 test days on Goodyears and 15 days on Coopers.

“It’s by far the most I’ve ever tested anybody before a season,” Mata added.  “Usually it’s four or five days, but Juan’s prior experience is mostly in karting, so he needed that testing.

“From the time we started, he’s become a lot better with his braking and using the downforce of the car,” Mata said, adding “I think he ran under the track record at three different tracks [Eagle’s Canyon, Cresson and Hallett], and he went faster than any car has gone at Chuckwalla before too.”

As a rookie undertaking his first season of racing in North America, Acosta will be seeing all the tracks he’ll race on for the first time.  He’s never raced on a street course or an oval either. This weekend’s races at COTA may even the playing field for him, however, since it’s a new track to the series.

“I think we are very well prepared for this first event,” Acosta said.  “We’ve been working hard and we expect to be competitive.

“It’s a long season and a big challenge to become the champion, but we are going to keep on working hard whether we are first or last.

“I’m very excited about racing at COTA,” he added.  “I think it’s a beautiful track, and it’s smooth and fast. It’s very nice to be able to drive on a Formula 1 track.

“We have an excellent team and a professional crew, and I believe we have what it will take to be competitive,” he concluded.

COTA is a 3.427-mile, 20-turn road course.

The event schedule shows a test day on Thursday and one official practice session at 8 a.m. Friday.  Qualifying will follow at noon, with Race 1 getting the green flag at 4:25 p.m. Friday.  There’s a 20-minute warm-up session on Saturday at 8 a.m. before Race 2 starts at 1:10 p.m. that day. All times are local. The starting lineup for Race 2 will be set by each driver’s fastest race lap in Race 1.  The races will be 30 minutes long.

The Pro Mazda series supports a Grand-Am Rolex Series event at COTA this weekend.

M1 Racing owns two Pro Mazda cars and has two others available for rent under the proper circumstances. Funded drivers who want to join Acosta on the Pro Mazda trail can get more information by contacting Mata by e-mail at M1Racinginfo@gmail.com or by calling him at (214) 282-1646.

The team’s website is at  M1Racing.co. Its Facebook page is at M1 Racing — Pro Mazda and its Twitter account is M1 Racing Pro Mazda (@M1ProMazda).

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