– Mazda Ride and Drive for fans is on-tap this weekend at the track –
IRVINE, Calif. (April 27, 2016) – Driver Andrew Carbonell is riding a streak of three consecutive victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca driving a Mazda MX-5 in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series ST (Street Tuner) class. Since 2009, he has finished third or better at the scenic seaside track as the series headlines Saturday racing action at the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, April 30. His team, Freedom Autosport, has won five in a row at Mazda Raceway, and, even more impressively, the last four races there have seen the team finish first and second.
Just don’t ask Carbonell, a life-long Miami resident, to explain the streak.
“It’s almost a phenomena,” Carbonell laughed. “I don’t have a good explanation for it. It’s crazy!”
When pressed, he explains why the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track is an ideal design for the Mazdas.
“The track is totally momentum-based, and it’s all about flowing the speed through the corners,” Carbonell said. “It’s what our MX-5 excels at. It’s almost like the car and the track were made for each other. It’s funny because it’s a Mazda car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, so it almost feels unfair when we win. [laughing] Somehow the pieces always come together. Think about how many things can go wrong. Look at this season – we had electrical issues at Daytona and a mechanical issue at Sebring – but when you look at our record at Mazda Raceway, we’ve gone six times as a team and we’ve been on the podium every time and the last five times we’ve finished first and second. There’s something special about the track, the racing gods are with us.”
Carbonell and Liam Dwyer Trying to Win Again
Carbonell teamed with Liam Dwyer, the Marine Staff Sgt.-turned-pro-race-car-driver, for an emotional victory at Mazda Raceway in 2015. When Dwyer was grievously injured in Afghanistan, Sgt. Aaron Denning was the man who saved his life. Last year, Denning was at the track to see Dwyer race for the first time. Denning will again attend this weekend, along with Mike Marmolejo, who was Dwyer’s physical therapist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Marmolejo helped Dwyer recover after he was told he would never walk – or drive a stick-shift – again.
“When I met Liam, he had just undergone what seemed like his 50th surgery on his right arm, or knee, or maybe his amputated leg,” said Marmolejo. “He was in his wheelchair, bandaged up, with anesthesia still in his system and upon meeting, he asked with a serious look; ‘So, when do I get to run?’ He quickly broke into a smile and said, ‘Look Mike, I chose you to be my physical therapist because I know you push your patients.’ Liam had dreams. He was not going to let his injuries define him. When I caught wind of his love for racing I knew I had to do whatever I could to get him back on the track.”
Mazda Entries in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series
Freedom Autosport will have three cars in the race, with defending series champions Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer paired in the No. 25 ModSpace Mazda MX-5, Danny Bender and Britt Casey Jr. (who finished second last year) in the No. 27 TRUMPF Mazda MX-5, while Carbonell and Dwyer will compete in the No. 26 entry. ALARA Racing will have the No. 34 MX-5 with drivers Christian Szymczak and Justin Piscitell. Last year, the ALARA duo finished third, completing the Mazda podium sweep.
The green flag for the two-hour and 20-minute race will fly Saturday at 1:25 pm PT, and the race telecast can be seen May 8 on Fox Sports 1.
Mazda Ride and Drive Allows Fans to Drive Five Models of Mazdas
While the racing is confined to the race track, race fans who want to get behind the wheel of one of five current models of Mazda production vehicles will have an opportunity this weekend. The Mazda Ride and Drive features a four-mile scenic drive along Barloy Canyon Road, a private road on the Mazda Raceway property. The Ride and Drive is free, and lucky drivers might find one of Mazda’s professional race car drivers in the passenger seat to offer insight into driving a Mazda. (See the attached map for location. Red Lot 9 will be the starting and concluding point for the drive.)
The Mazda Ride and Driver will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda.
Try the Mazda Virtual Reality Pit Stop in the Paddock Area
The newest addition to the Mazda consumer display (located in the paddock, just behind pit lane) is a virtual reality pit stop display. Now, fans can become part of the crew for a Mazda Prototype pit stop. The display is open to fans of all ages and is free. Each participant will receive a video of their exploits for sharing on social media.
The Mazda consumer display will also host several driver autograph sessions. Friday afternoon from 2:00 to 2:30, meet all of the Mazda racers in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series. Saturday morning from 10 – 10:30, you can meet the 40 drivers in the Battery Tender® Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires and get autographs. Saturday afternoon from 12:50 to 1:20, stop by the consumer display to meet and get autographs from the Mazda Prototype drivers.
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.