– Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is home-away-from-home –
IRVINE, Calif. (April 25, 2016) – It’s always special when the Mazda Prototype team races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Since 2001, Mazda has been the namesake of the picturesque 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit, but it’s much more than just the name that has the team excited about the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda this weekend, April 29 – May 1. The two-hour race is round four of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and it follows consecutive races where the Mazda Prototype team has recorded best-ever qualifying and race results.
At the most recent race at Long Beach, Mazda Prototype driver Tom Long qualified third, led the race and finished fourth with co-driver Joel Miller in the No. 70 Mazda Prototype by utilizing improved handling and the power of the new Mazda MZ-2.0T engine. Long described the heightened confidence for himself and the team going into this weekend.
“The whole team has a renewed amount of energy,” Long said. “We all see that ‘hey, we’re in this, and we’ve got a shot.’ It’s never been a question of how much hard work and dedication everyone has put forth, but when you see the results on paper – that proof – it really drives the momentum. For a driver, to have that confidence to not only to race for the win but to know the team’s behind you and all of the integral pieces are working… that motivation is huge. I’m hoping we have a lot more of that in Monterey.”
Why is Mazda Raceway a track where confidence is at an all-time high?
“The big thing that makes a Mazda quick at Mazda Raceway is the nature of the circuit: the flow, the elevation and the momentum characteristics fit the attributes of a good-handling sports car. The circuit is very smooth and we can run the car very low to the ground which creates additional downforce and grip. At Long Beach, we had to run our car higher to get over the bumps, but this circuit is going to be a huge advantage for us. A lot of higher-speed corners so we can really use the downforce. Even the curbs are smooth, and we can take advantage of all of that.”
Truly a Home Track for Jonathan Bomarito
Jonathan Bomarito, driver of the No. 55 Mazda, grew up near the track, and graduated from Palma High School in Salinas. His first laps of the circuit were in a Skip Barber formula car, and he became a driving instructor at Mazda Raceway for 10 years as his own driving career grew. (A young Bomarito even made an appearance on the show “Top Gear.”)
“I remember going to Mazda Raceway as a young boy,” Bomarito recalled, describing going with his father to watch Indy car test sessions after school. “Watching the Indy cars with my dad, and we could get right up to the fence line to watch. The sound, speed and the smell just grabbed me from a very young age.”
Development of new Mazda MX-5 race car led by Tom Long
This weekend is the debut of the Battery Tender® Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, with a brand new race car, the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 (aka Miata). The series will race Friday and Saturday afternoon at Mazda Raceway. (Full series details forthcoming tomorrow.) Prototype driver Tom Long, whose resume features a long list of MX-5 victories, was the lead development driver of the new race car.
“To help guide and develop the car for the Global MX-5 Cup package and now to see it come to fruition is great,” said Long. “To be a part of the transformation into a race car, and now to see a big lineup of so many beautiful and unique paint schemes and liveries, it’s just so exciting. It’s going to be pretty thrilling to watch 40 of these cars going down into the Andretti Hairpin!”
Mazda’s STEM Presentation Slated for Monterey High School Wednesday
Mazda’s national-touring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program called R.A.C.E. (Racing Accelerates Creative Education) will make a stop at Monterey High School Wednesday. The program aims to motivate the next generation of STEM students through the excitement of auto racing. The Mazda Prototype race car will be on display at the school during the lunch hour, followed by the R.A.C.E. presentation featuring Mazda Prototype driver and mechanical engineer Joel Miller. (Media is invited to attend. Contact Jade Gurss for details.)
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, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.