June 14, 2013 (IRVINE, Calif.) While there are exceptions to every rule, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of young racers were introduced to the sport by their Dad. Many developed their passion for cars and racing from weekends spent at car shows and races with their all-knowing Dad. In the eyes of a ten-year-old, Dad indeed knows everything. But what if Dad doesn’t know which racecar would be the best match for his son or daughter? Well, he might want to follow the lead of a few fast fathers who have the ‘been there, done that’ experience on the highest level.
Mazda has been fortunate to have some iconic names from the sport racing with them over the past few years. The names Andretti, Brabham, Cindric, Daly, Herta, Hobbs, Mansell, Newey, Robinson, and Varsha have all appeared on Mazda entry lists in the past decade. No, Mario Andretti never raced a Mazda. But his grandson Marco certainly did. Geoff Brabham may have been the star driver for a major Mazda rival, but his son Matthew now races within the Mazda Road to Indy.
Having a famous name doesn’t automatically make you go faster – although some would like to clone the DNA of these icons – but having a Dad who can help his kids avoid the many pitfalls within the sport is indeed an advantage. With Father’s Day this weekend, we asked a few of our famous Dads to comment on why the latest generation of their family races with Mazda.
Geoff Brabham is the middle generation of an iconic family of racers. His father, Sir Jack Brabham, won three world championships and started the rear-engine revolution at Indy. Geoff won three-straight IMSA GTP Championships from the era when GTP rivaled F1 in technology. Now, his son Matthew is looking to win the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship after having won the 2012 USF2000 Championship, both rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy. Geoff remarked, “When looking at the potential paths that we could take with Matthew, ‘The Mazda Road to Indy’ program really stood out. Now, having been involved in the program it has for sure exceeded our expectations. It’s not only the scholarship funding, which has been a huge help in Matthew’s progression into Pro Mazda, but also all the off track knowledge that is available like the Indy Summit as an example. The Pro Mazda series has definitely accelerated Matthew’s career, for which I am very grateful.”
Former IMSA GTP Champion Chip Robinson, father of Skylar Robinson, noted: “I chose the Mazda Road to Indy for Skylar because it gives young drivers a goal to shoot for at each step of the ladder and, because of the prizes, it attracts the best young talent from around the world creating an extraordinarily competitive environment. This in turn is what creates the future stars of motorsports. Thank you Mazda!”
When he isn’t at the track in his capacity as President of Penske Racing, Tim Cindric is working with his son Austin in the Mazda-powered USF2000 Championship: “The Mazda Road to Indy program was a natural choice for Austin. As a 14-year old, he needs to be surrounded by a support structure that includes the right balance of competition and training on and off the track. USF2000 races at some of the most challenging circuits in the US while providing instructional resources to their drivers that allows them the proper tools to develop a very solid foundation for their driving career.”
Former racer Bryan Herta is now an Indycar team owner and is working with his 12-year old son Colton as he moves from karts to cars: “I started my auto racing career with the Skip Barber Racing School, so when my son wanted to pursue a career in racing it was the ideal transition from karts to cars for him as well.”
And leave it to F1/Indycar/Sports Car veteran Derek Daly to boil it all down to the money: “The Mazda Road to Indy was the obvious early choice for Conor as he could develop in a more controlled environment closer to home with significant financial support from Mazda”.
2013 Pro Mazda Championship racer Spencer Pigot, noted that while his dad didn’t become a household name, he raced with some of the best; “My Dad is definitely the one to blame for getting me into this crazy sport we all love. He’s been at every race since I started when I was nine. Throughout the weekends he’s always trying to give me tips on where I can improve but since he’s my Dad I never really paid much attention. What do Dads know anyway, right? Well, my Dad used to race Formula Ford back in England with some guys that eventually made it to F1, IndyCar, Le Mans, etc. Derek Daly being one, but also Nigel Mansell. He introduced me to Nigel at Road Atlanta one year, which was pretty cool. Nigel told me ‘Your Dad was pretty good back in the day’. Hearing it from an F1 and CART Champion I realized that he might know a thing or two. Ever since then I’ve had to listen to my Dad a bit more, which he was very happy about.
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports, and MAZDASPEED
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America among both club racers and professionals. 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.
Mazda 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.
Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com, with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).