A Scottish touring car driver and an American stock car racer walk into a race paddock…

No, it’s not the start of a joke, but the true story of how two guys from disparate backgrounds came to form one of the powerhouse teams in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich.

Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer are the duo behind McCumbee McAleer Racing (MMR), which has been an MX-5 Cup entrant every year since 2014. That makes them among the longest-established teams in the series. The pair (below, McCumbee far left; McAleer center) met by chance in 2012 when their very separate paths led them to the cockpit of a Mazda racecar.

“Our partnership really came from Mazda’s involvement with everything that we were doing,” says McCumbee. “Stevan had just come over here chasing his way up the ladder, and ultimately won the MX-5 Cup championship in 2012. I’d been on a parallel path in the circle track world. It was two totally different areas of the sport.”

When they found themselves at CJ Wilson Motorsport a decade ago, little did they know that what transpired then would lead to where they are today.

“It’s a crazy story,” McAleer recounts. “I wanted to drive in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). I won a scholarship; however, the previous winner had so much crash damage that the scholarship lost money.

“A good friend of mine in the UK put me in touch with CJ Wilson, and I drove the 25 hours of Thunder Hill in 2011, where we won our class,” he continues. “I thought Mazda was a great platform for me because knowing the financial problems that 99 percent of racecar drivers have, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, if I can win this championship, I’m going to get a funded seat in the level above?’”

After racing in the same team both as competitors and co-drivers for several seasons, including winning the ST championship together in the previous iteration of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, the pair took a chance on starting their own team.

“I would say that Stevan and I both were excited about the opportunity to start our race team,” McCumbee says. “But we both questioned if we were ready for it. We were both still heavily involved in our personal driving, and we still are. At some point we know we’re not going to drive, and motorsports is what we know.”

They’ve certainly put their collective knowledge and skills to good use. McAleer tends to put his focus on driver and sponsor relationships, in addition to coaching, while McCumbee looks after the operational elements. Any major decision is always taken jointly. After nine seasons, MMR has a championship and a bounty of wins to its credit.

One of the elements that sets MMR apart is that racing is its sole focus.

“The only cars in our shop are our racecars,” says McCumbee. “Our drivers’ cars are getting attention from the time they come off the race track (above) to the time they go back on the race track. The quality of teams now in MX-5 Cup is just second to none, so every year we try to continue to be better.”

That’s not the punchline; it’s just the truth.

MMR BY THE NUMBERS

Over almost nine complete seasons of competition, McCumbee McAleer Racing has built a strong record. That’s not easy to do in the hyper-competitive landscape that is the Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich.

The team already has one driver’s championship to its credit, courtesy of Patrick Gallagher in 2017. In fact, 2017 was MMR’s best season to date, having also secured the Rookie of the Year title with Robert Stout, along with Team of the Year and Mechanic of the Year accolades.

Overall, MMR has scored 17 race wins, earned 16 pole positions, and made 29 podium appearances.

This season, it has four drivers in the top 20 in points, with Nate Cicero in sixth place and leading the Rookie of the Year fight, while John Jodoin lies in eighth place overall as the 2023 MX-5 Cup season heads into its final weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

• All Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich races are streamed live on RACER.com and archived at The RACER Channel on YouTube. Don’t miss the season finale, rounds 13 & 14 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 12-13. And to view the full season schedule and learn more about the series, visit mx-5cup.com.