Endurance racing and the NC (third gen) Miata highlight the contingency awards enhancements.
In club racing and autocross, many auto manufacturers pay contingency awards, though not all. Of those who do, the philosophy has largely been to pay just the winner or, perhaps, the podium. Manufacturers want wins and podiums to be able to showcase.
Mazda is different. It wants to showcase the talented Mazda racers, but it also rewards many racers who finish deeper in the fields.
“At Mazda, we don’t do things just because they’ve always been done that way,” commented David Cook, Mazda Motorsports’ business development manager. “A core value of ours has been continuous kaizen (continuous improvement). In 2017, we began paying deeper in the fields – often the top five finishing positions. In 2018, we paid a little deeper overall. And starting in 2019, as we refocus our efforts in road racing and autocross, we will offer contingency awards to Mazda racers in three sanctioning bodies for the first time – all endurance racing focused.”
Mazda racers competing in American Endurance Racing (AER), ChampCar, and World Racing League (WRL) are now eligible for contingency awards. For those choosing an MX-5 Miata, Mazda Motorsports has secured a parts rewards program as the primary compensation for these racers. These “parts rewards points” can be used to acquire many Miata racing competition parts from Mazda Motorsports. While points cannot be combined with cash to purchase a given part, the points value range in the hundreds to thousands of dollars in value. The list of Miata competition parts and associated point value will be released later this month. Due to fewer competition parts choices for those Mazda racers who do not compete in a Miata, they will be eligible for the standard “cash” rewards (applied through a rewards card).
“We have been following ChampCar, AER, and WRL for multiple years, and have become very impressed with the level of professionalism and focus on the customer experience each sanctioning body provides,” said Cook. “As Mazda racers are choosing to compete in endurance racing, we will continue to find additional ways to support them.”
While Mazda Motorsports is getting behind select endurance racing sanctioning bodies, the GT3 class, it is also turning its support focus to the NC MX-5 Miata (2006 – 2015; third generation Miata).
“The NC Miata is primed to take off in the club racing market,” commented Cook. “And we are going to give it a big boost.”
As the price of the NC Miata road car has come down over the years and the NC Miata race car have made their way from pro racing into the club racing market, the opportunity to acquire an NC Miata for club racing competition has never been more affordable. Tether this with the ongoing support of the Mazda Motorsports Team Support Program and the emergence of the Spec MX-5 Challenge series, the owner’s value proposition is remarkable. But Mazda Motorsports is not resting there.
After the great success of Spec Miata (the series for the first two generation Miatas), Mazda Motorsports is taking those learnings and greatly enhancing its support of the NC Miata to drive it to become a spec national class in NASA and SCCA competition in the coming years.
“We have been above 50% market share, based on participation, in SCCA club racing for many consecutive years,” added Cook. That allows us competitive advantages in the market place to continue offering a Team Support Program bar none. Our goal is to get to 60%, which would allow us even greater means to support club racers. To do this, we need Spec Miata to continue to flourish, while also gaining new customers in other areas. The NC platform, being a quick, reliable, affordable and fun car that comes with all the support we are known to offer and more, entices other car owners. Our support of Spec Miata and other classes such as GT3 will continue to grow, as evident with our investment and partnership with Penske Racing Shocks and the GT3 Challenge presented by MPI, while we will bolster the support of the NC, in particular.”
While Mazda Motorsports is planning to share more on the NC Miata strategy later this month, part of its strategy can be viewed through its contingency support program. The new parts rewards bonus in endurance racing is just one new offering. NC owners will receive increased contingency awards, including the parts rewards bonus by accruing points in other series such as SCCA Touring 4, NASA ST5, and Spec MX-5 Challenge. These added contingency awards via the parts rewards bonus will help NC Miata and endurance racers continue to maintain top performing race cars by more easily acquiring competition parts from Mazda Motorsports. And according to Cook, contingency enhancements for the NC are going to exist beyond 2019.
As Mazda has nearly doubled the number of Mazda racers who have earned contingency during these last two years, and it continues to invest in racers with older and newer generation cars, one thing should be clear to all in the club racing arena, this is a very good time to be a Mazda racer.