Mazda Motorsports’ Spotlight: Steve Sanders

Do you know the history of Mazda’s motorsports program? Well, Steve Sanders, manager of MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development and employee for 30 years, has helped craft it. So we caught up with Mr. Sanders to learn about his past accomplishments, himself as a person, and a glimpse into what is to come in 2016.

Do you know who helped create the initial design and development of the Mazda Team Support Program (parts support and contingency awards program) that provides more contingency payouts to SCCA and NASA competitors than any other car manufacturer? Answer: Steve Sanders.

Part of the reason the Mazda Team Support Program pays so much contingency is because Mazda has the most competitive racers. Wonder why many believe this to be the case? Well, the deep fields in the Mazda classes certainly play a large factor (and there are reasons for that, too). Know who was a key player in the early stages of the deepest field – Spec Miata class? Mr. Sanders.

Ready for a curveball? Who helped with development of the Idemitsu MX-5 Cup series and cars? Answer: Mr. Sanders. Perhaps this wasn’t a curveball or you are catching on.

More than just one who helped shape the programs for which MAZDASPEED Motorsports is known, Mr. Sanders manages the Competition Parts Department, on a daily basis. Whether it’s parts inventory control, customer and vendor relations, parts pricing and parts development, Steve is helping to lead the charge. It doesn’t stop there, however. He also manages all aspects of the Mazda Contingency Awards program, and website parts catalog. Last week, you learned about Randy Miller. Well, Steve helps Mr. Miller by overseeing the Mazda Heritage Car vehicle fleet (e.g., IMSA GTO, IMSA GTP, 787, 767, etc.).

Can you believe Mr. Sanders worked in marketing and promotions for several years before signing on with Mazda? Well, you should if you haven’t forgotten all of the above. He was a store manager of an automotive company that well, frankly, wasn’t profitable until Sanders’ tenure. Whether it’s developing new programs or adjusting and enhancing sustainable ones, such as the contingency program or parts catalog, it comes down to source of influence. So what’s Mr. Sanders’?

“I’ve focused on the customer since day one,” commented Mr. Sanders. “In all that I do, it is about providing value to our customers. As we have grown and the value proposition to our customer changes, or even our leadership team changes, it has always been about delivering smiles to our customers and stakeholders.

“I used to volunteer as a corner worker.  It was some of the most fun I have had in this sport. To see the happiness and excitement on the race track, and even the opposite emotions, drives me to continue exceeding expectations for our customers. A core value of Mazda’s is to never stop challenging. And, we won’t.

“In 2016, you will see some major changes in the parts catalog. We’ve been needing to do a major face-lift as well as an enhancement in the selection and ordering process. By this summer, you will see these changes as well.”

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The Man Who Manages Mazda’s Heritage Fleet