The Greatest Manufacturer Influence In Motorsports? MAZDA, Really ... MAZDA!
To the casual motorsports observer, it is easy to overlook the influence and participation automobile manufacturers have in the pursuit of motorsports and to what extent they shape and form activities that capture our attention on TV or our local track.
Once one learns how to drive, the concept of motosports competition crosses ones mind and, to some, becomes an obsession. For most, just beating someone off of the line at a green light on an everyday street is as deep as this interest goes, but for others, this obsession grows ... first by watching a major race like the INDY 500 or an international broadcast of the Formula 1 race from the Principality of Monaco to actually taking a car out on a track for a spin ... at speed.
We may first think about the manufacturer of a particular car as it relates to motorsports when we begin to recognize what the nameplate on the car is of our favorite driver. NASCAR is famous for sporting a manufacturers name on the cars they race, even though the cars they drive have almost nothing to do with the actual car one would see on any city or country street ... anywhere.
The cars that NASCAR use for competition are built from the ground up with tubular metal framing for the chassis, a combination of sheet metal and composite fiber outer panels for the body skin and decals located for where the head and tail lights are supposed to be. The names of Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Dodge adorn the cars but very little in the way of actual production vehicles are really a part of the process.
In other, more sophisticated forms of motorsports found on the racing venues around the world, automobile manufacturers do, in fact, give direct support with engineering, engine development, and actual platform creation development, and support. However, no other automobile manufacturer participates directly in the creation and development of competitive racing series, driver development and training around the world more than ... MAZDA.
At the beginning of this summer's racing season, the largest gathering of MAZDA motorsports racing series drivers from all of the supported series (pictured here at New Jersey Motorsports Park, June 2009) - Mazda is the brand of choice for road-racers across North America. More than 9,000 grassroots racers compete in various classes with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Racers who are years away from earning a driver's license can now begin their professional motorsports careers in the Mazda family. A driver can begin in karts and progress through the Skip Barber series, Club Racing Formula Mazda, professional Star Mazda and finally to Formula Atlantic, all with Mazda. No other car company has ever connected the dots this way. Caption and Image Credit: MAZDASPEED Motorsports
This excerpted and edited from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development website -
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you'll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA 3, MAZDA 6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the fastest growing road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCA's Spec Miata class, with nearly 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.
Over the past decade, Mazda has developed an increasingly strong presence at road racing tracks around the nation. At the 2007 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring festivities, Mazda is represented in five of the eight races, and six of the thirteen different classes of cars, more than any other brand including Porsche, Ferrari, General Motors, Ford, Dodge, Toyota and Honda.
Mazda supports anyone who’s racing his or her Mazda in any sanctioned racing event in the U.S. or Canada. Mazda supports all types of racing, whether Road Racing, Rally, Drag, Off-Road or Autocross, as long as your event is sanctioned by a real racing organization and provides some kind of published racing results. You need to be a member of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Racing support program to purchase parts or receive support.
Mazda North American Operations provides racing support in North America through MAZDASPEED MOTORSPORTS DEVELOPMENT. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports factory-engineered vehicles, performance parts and accessories, and motorsports programs are the ultimate expression of our "Always the Soul of a Sport Car" spirit. MAZDASPEED is the destination for driving enthusiasts who desire to experience Mazda at the highest, most exhilarating level. Video Credit: gorotary
MAZDA CONNECTS THE DOTS FOR NORTH AMERICAN MOTORSPORTS LADDER
Up-and-coming race drivers have two major challenges: winning on the track, and finding the resources to move up to the next level. Mazda in conjunction with series corporate partners is making the second task significantly easier for this year's champion drivers. Mazda will provide a next-level, fully-funded ride in a Mazda powered car to the 2007 champions of selected Mazda series.
“We are committed to developing the next generation of racers with a ladder system that provides drivers with Mazda and Mazda-powered open and closed-wheel cars throughout their careers,” said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, and the man responsible for Mazda's North American motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner. “Similar to our contingency program, these are performance-based rewards. Too often the cost of racing has meant that a promising career has stagnated due to a lack of budget. With this initiative, Mazda changes that.”
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... notes from The EDJE