– Mazda has 23 class victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona-
IRVINE, Calif. (January 21, 2016) – Mazda has earned 23 class victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona since the first Mazda raced (and won) there in 1975. Here are a few of the Mazda milestones from the famous 24-hour race.
1st: First Mazda entry in the 24 Hours also produced the first victory at Daytona. Ray Walle and Tom Reddy won the GTU Touring class in an RX-3. Walle, a Mazda dealer, drove the car to Daytona from New Jersey. After the win, he drove it back.
1st: Kathy Rude was the first woman in professional road racing history to earn a class win as she teamed with Lee Mueller and Allen Moffett to win the GTU class in 1982.
1st: The first Mazda to lead the race overall was also the first diesel engine to lead in the more-than 50 years of Rolex 24 history. Tom Long led the 2015 race in the Mazda Prototype with SKYACTIV diesel power.
1st: This year’s running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will mark the race debut of the new Mazda MZ-2.0T engine. The two-liter, inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine has covered more than 4,000 miles of testing prior to the race.
2: Sylvain Tremblay, owner of SpeedSource (Mazda’s factory team in the Prototype category), has two victories as a driver/owner, in 2008 and 2010. David Haskell, a co-driver in both wins, is now the Powertrain Director at SpeedSource. Jonathan Bomarito, current driver of the No. 55 Mazda Prototype, was also co-driver in the 2010 victory.
3rd: The best overall finish for a Mazda was in 1983, when Pete Halsmer, Tom Gloy, Bob Reed and Rick Knoop drove an RX-7 to the GTO class win and third-place overall.
4: Most Daytona wins by Mazda drivers Amos Johnson, Peter Uria and Al Bacon. Johnson and Uria grabbed their victories in four consecutive years. Bacon’s four Daytona wins represent more than 50 percent of the seven victories in his career.
6: Mazda race cars won two different classes in the same Rolex 24 six times.
14: Mazda has 14 wins in what was known as the GTU category.
15: Class victories for the RX-7, the most successful Mazda model at the 24 Hours.
23: Mazda has 23 class victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
25: This is the 25th anniversary of Mazda’s 1991 victory at Le Mans. Mazda remains the only Asian automaker to win overall at the 24-Hour French classic.
55: One of the two Mazda Prototypes will carry the No. 55 this season, in honor of the 1991 Le Mans victory by the epic, rotary-powered Mazda 787-B.
70: The No. 70 Mazda Prototype also has an historic number, as it was carried to Rolex 24 class victories in 2008 and 2010.
Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder which culminates in the Mazda Prototype team that races in the top level of IMSA sports car racing in North America. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar system in open-wheel racing, which includes USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights racing categories with Mazda power. The new MX-5 Cup car makes its debut in 2016, with affordable, turnkey race cars available direct from Mazda. In the grassroots categories, more Mazdas road race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer.
Mazda North American Operations 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. For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at www.mazdausamedia.com.