Heating up the Track

The Mazda6 impresses participants during the on-track Hot Lap Experience

It doesn’t take a lot of upgrades for people to be wowed by a Mazda6, especially when it’s wheeled around a racetrack by professional racer Tom Long.

“I had no idea this car could go that fast!” is one of the common reactions Long gets after he’s taken VIPs around a track in the Mazda6 Hot Lap Experience car during IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekends. Other surprises are the amount of grip the riders experience and the fact that Long is able to talk about the track and the various corners as he’s wheeling the car that hard.

This Mazda6 began life as a Mazda6 Signature in Soul Red Crystal that is available at your local Mazda dealer. The speed comes from the turbocharged 2.5- liter SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine which makes 250HP and produces 310 ft.-lbs. of torque, and the interior occupants are treated to Nappa leather-trimmed seats, Sen Wood and Ultrasude® interior trim inserts, ventilated front seats and an 8” full-color touchscreen display. The Mazda 6 Hot Lap Experience car was prepared by Long Road Racing, the same company that builds the Mazda MX-5 Cup cars. In fact, the previous IMSA Hot Lap Experience car from Mazda was a Mazda Miata MX-5 RF with many of the MX-5 Cup components installed. 

Additions to the Mazda6 include an intake, exhaust and engine tune from Corksport, lowering springs, shocks and swaybars from KW Suspension, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.

“It’s been some of the biggest points among riders – they are impressed with the amount of grip the car has and the car’s acceleration with the torque off the corner,” Long explains. “The torque is probably the most impressive thing – it’s just instantaneous. To slow all of that down, we have an oversized Brembo brake package on it; big disks and calipers, about the size you would find on a TCR car. It’s really nice and aesthetically pleasing, but also very functional. With Pagid brake pads, it does a nice job.”

Many of the VIPs that get to ride in the car with Long are there courtesy of Mazda, so they’re already Mazda fans. But most, he says, underestimate the potential of the car. And whether Mazda fans or not, most can’t believe how it keeps up with the sports cars from the other participating manufacturers that are on the track at the same time.

“The initial turn-in response, the amount of grip the car continues to create throughout the corner, it really never gives up. For being on a street tire and not racing suspension, it’s wild how well it really does handle. And having a racing brake application on it, you never have to think about the brakes fading. That just makes for a really enjoyable lap for the participants. You’re really able to drive the car to its true abilities without much compromise,” Long enthuses, before adding that at the car’s price point, it represents a tremendous package for the money.

Look for the Mazda6 Hot Lap Experience car at an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race. And if you have your own Mazda6, Long Road Racing will happily help you upgrade it to skew the car’s capabilities to the performance side of the equation.