CHANDLER, AZ (3TV / CBS 5) Four young racing drivers battled it out on a Valley track Friday for a shot at a $100,000 racing scholarship.
The Mazda Road to 24 was put on by Mazda Motorsports, as the company looks to groom its next professional driver.
"Essentially what you have is American Idol on the racetrack,” Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan said. “This young talent has been racing in different series and now they're going to make that first jump into professional racing."
Doonan says they were looking for a well-rounded driver: someone who can go fast, but can also represent the brand.
“It’s an opportunity for young talent to grow their career,” Doonan said.
The $100,000 goes toward building a professional team for the driver.
Mazda's been putting on this competition for around 20 years, but this year featured two female drivers; a first for the program.
"I want to get females behind the wheel because it's such a cool sport. And at the end of the day, the car doesn't know the difference," said 21-year-old contestant Loni Unser.
Unser is currently a student at the University of Boulder, but her last name signifies racing royalty. Unser’s family members have nine victories at the Indy 500.
All the racetrack royalty didn't matter for Unser, at the end of the day, Mazda went with Michael Carter, an 18-year-old student at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Coming up this weekend, 20 Indy Car drivers will compete for their shot at $200,000 in a separate competition.