A diesel first ran at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 1931 Indianapolis 500, becoming the first car to run the race without a pit stop. Freddie Agabashian gave diesel engines their best shot in 1952, capturing the pole but failing to finish the race. It wasn’t until more than 50 years later that a diesel engine finally won a race at the famed track.
But it wasn’t in an open wheeler. No, it was the SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel under the hood of the No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Edge Mazda 6 that did it, capturing the GX class win in the Brickyard Grand Prix Rolex Sports Car Series race in July.
“We were just trying to stay out of the way of the [Daytona Prototype] cars, and ended up on the marbles and almost kissed the concrete, but ended up kissing the bricks,” said Sylvain Tremblay, owner and engineer at SpeedSource Engineering and one of the winning drivers of the No. 70 Castrol Edge Mazda6. “It was not an easy day, but the team remained focused and we came through for the win. To score the first-ever win for a diesel at Indy, in our first year with the program, speaks volumes for Mazda and our team.”
It was the sixth victory for the Mazda6 in its maiden year, and the second in the three races of the North American Endurance Championship, which also includes the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Sahlen’s Six Hour at Watkins Glen. Along with the victory at the Glen, the win at Indy sealed the team championship in the GX class for SpeedSource.
“We made history today, both for Mazda and for SKYACTIV Clean Diesel Technology,” said John Doonan, motorsports director for Mazda North American Operations. “While this is our fifth win of the season, and fifth in a row, it is by far the biggest win to date. To win at Indy is every racer’s dream and that dream came true for Mazda here today. So many people at Mazda in the U.S. and Japan, working hand-in-hand with the amazing SpeedSource team, have never stopped making progress in this program. We also are grateful for our partners at Castrol, ModSpace and VISIT FLORIDA, all of who have contributed to our success.”
It has become tradition for winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – in Indy cars, stock cars or sports cars – to kiss the yard of bricks at the start-finish line to celebrate victory. It was a custom that co-driver Tom Long was all too happy to continue.
“The race with our SKYACTIV-D Mazda6 was certainly exciting, and the SpeedSource team worked so hard to persevere. It’s an incredible experience to share this first victory at Indy with Mazda and the entire team. The tradition of ‘kissing the bricks’ will be a memory I will never forget,” he said.
The next race for the Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel cars will be at Lime Rock Park on Sept. 28. It is also the season finale, where the SpeedSource team hopes to celebrate its championship season.