Mazda enters a third season in the top category of sports car racing in North America as a part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The Mazda Prototype team will race an LMP2-package with a brand new engine, the MZ-2.0T. The MZ-2.0T is a gas-fueled, inline four-cylinder, 2-liter turbocharged engine that was developed with Advanced Engine Research (AER) Ltd. (AER also prepares and maintains the MZR-R engine that powers the entire field in the Indy Lights series as a part of the open-wheel Mazda Road to Indy.) The Mazda Prototype team is the top-rung of the Mazda Road to 24, the sports car driver development ladder system.
The car: The Mazda Prototype carbon monocoque chassis is developed with the factory team SpeedSource Race Engineering and Canada’s Multimatic Engineering, based upon a Lola design. Because of a new rules package that will debut in 2017, it is very likely the team will debut a new chassis next season. With the MZ-2.0T engine, the Mazda Prototype is capable of a top speed of more than 190 mph.
The team: The Mazda Prototype factory team is SpeedSource Race Engineering, based in Coral Springs, Florida. Led by owner Sylvain Tremblay, SpeedSource has more than two decades of Mazda racing success in their history. SpeedSource works with Mazda engineers from both Mazda North American Operations in Irvine, California, and Mazda Motor Corporation in Hiroshima, Japan.
The drivers: Mazda is the industry leader with not one but two driver development programs, the Mazda Road to 24 in sports car racing, and the Mazda Road to Indy in open-wheel racing. All of the full-time Mazda Prototype drivers have come through the development program from grassroots racing all the way to the top run of North American sports car racing.
Jonathan Bomarito: The 33-year-old native of Tennessee has a long history with Mazda, including a GT-class victory in the 2010 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Bomarito will drive the No. 55 Mazda Prototype this season.
Tristan Nunez: Now 20-years-old, Nunez will drive the No. 55 Mazda Prototype in 2016, and still retains a number of records as the youngest race winner and series champion in modern North American road racing. The Boca Raton, Fla. native has his own foundation, Dnt txt n drV, which is devoted to educating young students about the dangers of distracted driving.
Tom Long: Long is the driver of the No. 70 Mazda Prototype, and is also known as one of the most prominent and successful Mazda Miata MX-5 racers of all-time. The Charlotte-area resident, 33, is a renowned driver coach and was the lead development and test driver of the new turn-key Mazda MX-5 Cup car that will debut in 2016.
Joel Miller: Miller will drive the No. 70 Mazda Prototype this season, and has come through the Mazda open-wheel ladder system. The 27-year-old Californian is also a degreed mechanical engineer, which allows him to be the featured presenter of Mazda’s national-touring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Called R.A.C.E. (Racing Accelerates Creative Education), the program has reached more than 20,000 students nationwide.
Series website: www.imsa.com/series/sportscar-championship