For the past decade Mazda has used the tagline of “on any given weekend, more Mazdas are road-raced than any other brand.” It could just as easily been, “on any given weekday, Mazda offers more prize money to grassroots road-racers than any other car company.”
Mazda pays winning racers, competing with a Mazda or Mazda-powered racecar, in approved Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) events. Payments range from $125 for a runner-up finish in an SCCA Pro SOLO event to $5,000 for winning an SCCA national championship. The largest prize in all of club road-racing is the annual Mazda club racer shootout where one racer wins a full season in the SCCA Pro racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, valued over $75,000
Steve Sanders, Competition Parts Manager, Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations sums it up, “Racing with Mazda means that we support you with competitively priced parts, great tech support, and the best contingency prize package in the business. We joke that it’s the one area in racing where going over budget is a good thing. In 2012 we awarded almost $900,000 to club racers. This is in addition to the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Ladder and Mazda Road to Indy Scholarships bring the total driver support to over $2 Million – in cash.”
Mazda is ramping up the 2013 professional racing season with their usual hectic month of March, starting with races on March 1st in Austin, Texas, before two busy weekends in Florida. For Mazda, racing is not just a single series, but the majority of all sports car and open wheel road-racing classes in North America. 2013 highlights on the professional level will include:
- GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series (GRAND-AM) - The GRAND-AM Championship will be the first professional series other than Formula 1 to headline at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The SpeedSource Engineering team will have a pair of SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel powered Mazda6s competing in the new for 2013 GX class on Saturday, March 2nd.
- GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) - Supporting GRAND-AM in Austin will be the fiercely competitive ‘Conti’ series. At least a half dozen Mazdas from Freedom Autosport, i-Moto Racing, and CJ Wilson Racing will be challenging for the ST Class win in Austin.
- American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) - The final ALMS season will kick-off with the 61st Mobil-1 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 16th. Dyson Racing will be returning to the series with their Mazda MZR-R-powered Lola. This is the same car that scored the ALMS LMP1 class win at the 2012 Sebring race.
- SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup (MX-5 Cup) - The seventh season of MX-5 Cup competition will begin at Sebring. Joining the MX-5 Cup Championship for the second year will be a MAZDASPEED Challenge class for racers from the Skip Barber Racing School.
- Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (Pro Mazda) - The Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Championship takes off where the Star Mazda Championship ended in 2012, as the linchpin in the Mazda Road to Indy (MRTI). The rotary-powered Pro Mazda racers will complete a double-header at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 1st/2nd before heading to the streets of St. Petersburg on March 23rd/24th.
- Cooper Tires USF2000 National Championship Powered By Mazda (USF2000) - The USF2000 Championship kicks off their season at Sebring on March 14th/15th, before joining up with the other MRTI series in St. Petersburg.
- Cooper Tires IMSA Prototype Lites Powered By Mazda (IMSA Lites) - The IMSA Lites Championship kicks off their season at Sebring on March 14th/15th with a double-header.
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda Motorsports established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Be sure to subscribe to the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner, and keep track of your favorite racers. If you're a motorsports fan, and know of an event, team, or person you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about local getaways, HOAs, elections, and restaurants.