2016 Mazda Motorsports Year in Review
by John Doonan
I am often asked, “Why does Mazda race?” Simply put, racing is in our blood. It’s who we are. Motorsports drives us to be the best, to stay ahead of the competition, and to never stop challenging ourselves to be better. Motorsports is the ultimate demonstration of the Mazda brand which celebrates driving, expresses the joy we all get from driving, and builds cars that give their drivers this amazing feeling of happiness through a driving experience like none other.
Mazda began racing in 1968, just a year after the first Mazda rotary automobile, the Cosmo 110S sports car, entered production. The twin-rotor, two-seater finished fourth in the grueling 84-hour endurance race against some of the best Germany had to offer and we haven’t looked back since. We went on to prove the rotary’s reliability, durability and its remarkable performance by taking 23 class wins at the Daytona 24, winning a dozen times at the 12 Hours of Sebring, and, of course, capturing the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991, the only Asian manufacturer to ever do so.
Since 1968, all of you – the thousands who make up the Mazda racing family – invest in our brand through your motorsports programs. Whether it is a SOLO program, Rallycross, Club Racing, track days, Idemitsu MX-5 Cup, Pirelli World Challenge, the Continental Tire Championship, or at the highest levels of the sport in our Mazda Road to Indy or Mazda Road to 24 programs, you CHOOSE to race a Mazda. For this investment and your loyalty, our entire staff thanks you and commends you for pursuing your racing passions with us. You represent more than 50% of the grassroots racing in North America and the foundation of our brand.
The 2016 season was a very special year for Mazda Motorsports’ program. So many of you competed and won at the regional, national/Majors, and National Championship level that the top step of the podium is nearly RESERVED for Mazda. We successfully launched the 2016 MX-5 Cup race car, our first venture into providing a turn-key race car to the market, with year-to-date sales of 122 cars (and growing). The MX-5 Cup series saw the largest fields in series history and expectations are high for even greater growth in 2017 as we embark on a new partnership with IndyCar that has us racing at terrific venues, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At the top level of sports car racing, our Mazda Prototypes showed strong pace in 2016 with three pole positions, multiple track records, and leading more than 100 laps. 2017 brings the all new Mazda RT24-P to the grid and we believe race wins and championships are not far behind.
The Mazda Road to Indy and the Mazda Road to 24 programs continued to be recognized globally for providing the only clear driver scholarship opportunities anywhere in the world. More than 100 drivers from over 20 countries came to the United States, in the name of Mazda, to pursue their career dreams in the USF2000 Championship, the Pro Mazda Championship, Indy Lights, MX-5 Cup, and Mazda Prototype Lites. We are honored to provide these platforms for drivers around the globe. A few weeks ago, Matt Cresci – a Spec Miata driver from California – was awarded the $100,000 Mazda Road to 24 scholarship and will compete in the 2017 Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich. To cap off the year, 20 championship-winning drivers from all over the world are headed to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (December 6-7) to compete for the very first $200,000 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout scholarship.
With all of these programs running along at full speed, our focus remains on one thing: YOU, our customer racers. Without you and your continued investment, our program does not achieve what it has. Without you and your voice, the Mazda brand does not continue to grow in the racing industry or in the minds of the broader audience shopping for a new street car. Without your input, our program does not continue to grow and flourish.
With that feedback in mind, please look for a survey that will be sent to you at approximately 12:45 pm PT on December 6, 2016. We want to hear from you. We want your insights and thoughts about how we do business. We want to continue to provide you with the best experience and service possible. Thank you in advance for taking a few minutes to complete the short survey.
As you, your family, friends, and loved ones prepare for the holiday season, please accept our best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and VICTORIOUS year ahead.
We will Never Stop Challenging ourselves…and we know you won’t either. See you at the track!