Southeast Support is Reaping Rewards

After two events, Mazda Motorsports has made adjustments to better serve racers and is looking for ways to expand the program. One is having Mazda pro racer Andrew Carbonell attend NOLA Super Tour to complimentary provide coaching to Mazda racers.

Mazda Motorsports has made an effort to put more people on the ground at the events Mazda racers attend, starting with the Southeast Conference SCCA U.S. Majors Tours. After two events in 2018, that effort has been well received and is already reaping benefits.

“It’s starting out better than expected,” says David Cook, Mazda Motorsports Manager of Business Development. “Our hope was to not only support the Southeast racers, but learn from the racers and apply those teachings to the overall program. The Southeast Conference racers’ knowledge, experience and openness with us have already led to improvements in pricing, sourcing new products and more.”

New hire Josh Smith along with Cook and Mazda racer Steve Strickland have been the spearheads for the initiative. After the Homestead and Sebring SCCA Majors, which were on back-to-back weekends, the crew is looking at doing some things differently before heading to NOLA for the Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour event the first weekend in March.

“We have thoroughly stocked the trailer based on sales and input from teams and racers and myself to get a better inventory of what we’re going to need at the track,” Smith explains. “We’re working on setting up a better footprint for presence with pop-up tents, and we’re getting the trailer wrapped so it will be easier to find at the track.”

“We are excited to have one of our factory drivers attend NOLA – Andrew Carbonell,” says Cook. “Tom Fowler, who runs OPM and has been a trusted consultant for us, if you will, gave us great feedback about the value to the racers by having our factory drivers at events providing complimentary coaching.” Sign-ups for 20-minute time slots will be available at the Mazda trailer beginning Friday morning at 8 am. 

“Sound prep is one of the keys to having a solid weekend,” explains Carbonell. There’s a coaching process we follow that starts before session one, but for those at NOLA, starting Friday morning, even for the racers who have yet been on track, will yield big benefits. Once the racer has been on track, it’s ideal to review both video and data. For the sessions I will be providing at NOLA, it’s probably going to be best to review video. We can determine much of what’s going on with the driver inputs, just like data review, but also see line and more.”

For those Mazda racers who take advantage of these sessions, bring your track map to be fill out, and video, if you’ve been on track.

Racers will also be happy to know that the Mazda Motorsports-provided lunch, which usually happens on Saturday during the official lunch break, isn’t going to change. Carbonell, Cook, Smith, and Strickland will all be on hand to answer questions.

Some other improvements made since the early-season Majors is that Smith now has the factory Mazda scan tool to provide better tech support at the track, as well as a rotary compression gauge. All of these things are great if you’re racing a Southeast Conference event, but of course Mazda racers want to know if they can expect similar efforts in their neck of the woods.

“David and I are of the opinion that, yes, we are based in the Southeast, but we want this to spread nationwide so we get a better idea of what our racing base and customer base is looking for,” says Smith. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, we’re looking to add some NASA events, and potentially some autocross national events like SCCA’s Dixie Tour and perhaps even making it to the Solo National Championships. That’s all hopes, we’re not sure we can attain it yet; it’s going to be based on schedules. We have even talked about supporting Track Night in America. It’s gaining in popularity and we would love to have a presence there, although we’re not sure that would be the full presence including the parts trailer.”

For the broader Mazda racing audience, Smith is working on a signature series exhaust for NA and NB Miatas that would be Spec Miata compliant but would also work for IT, Touring or STL. Constructed of 409 stainless steel, it will fit with the tunnel notch and have the best ground clearance, he says. Look for more details on that in the near future.