Parts Spotlight: Mazda Motorsports Steering Wheel by MPI

The MX-5 Cup car steering wheel, created by Max Papis Innovations (MPI), is available for all cars.

Part #: 0000-10-5650-MZ
Price: $228

Comfort is the first thing most racers think about when choosing a steering wheel; aesthetics comes second, with safety often the last thought when it comes to the wheel. After all, there are the belts, cage, helmet, nets, head restraint, seat, and many other safety devices. The wheel, however, is an important part of the safety equation in the sense that while it may not specifically protect the driver in a crash, a properly constructed wheel may reduce injuries in the case of one.

The new Mazda Motorsports steering wheel from MPI takes all the facets of a good wheel into account – comfort, aesthetics and, yes, safety.

“MPI started out as a safety need, in terms of wanting to improve the current product that was in the market,” says Max Papis, who has decades of racing experience in ChampCar/IndyCar, NASCAR, and sports cars, and founded MPI with his wife, Tatiana Fittipaldi Papis. “There is a myth in the sport where people think that the steering wheel should not deform. If you look back at history, all good products absorb load on impact. If that didn’t deform, something else would deform in your body. The strength of the MPI products is we put some thought and some technical knowledge behind it in terms of understanding angles of the steering wheel. We created this double-rivet construction that we apply on most of our products that increases durability and the safety factor.”

Papis explains that there is a channel inside the wheel that allows the wheel to act as a reverse airbag, able to deform in case of an impact. It is submitted to the “torque structural steering wheel test” that is considered one of the most severe tests for road cars, and a stress test to see what happens when a load is applied that is similar to what would happen if a driver kept his or her hands on the wheel during a severe impact.

Beyond safety, the wheel has an oval shape where the hands grip it; the shape of the wheel itself is the same natural shape your hands make when holding something. “The way the grip is shaped around the driver’s hands, that comes directly from my own experience with sports car racing. That is an evolution of the ergonomic grip I shaped for endurance racing. It has been evolved and adapted to this wheel,” Papis says.

Developed over the years with feedback from drivers in several forms of racing, it uses a polyurethane foam wrapped around the aluminum frame for greater comfort, and is wrapped in suede. The center plate offers a standard six-hole mounting that will allow it to mount to nearly any quick-release hub, including one available from MPI.

Aesthetically, the wheel includes “MAZDA” stitching on the rim. The first wheels, as supplied to the MX-5 Cup, had the “MAZDA” stitching in blue and a red top-center marker. We have sold out of those, however, and switched to the gray stitching with the “Winged M” logo in the center.

In addition to the wheels, which are designed and engineered in the U.S. and made in Italy, Mazda Motorsports and MPI are offering accessories such aluminum button/switch holders in single or double format and an adapter that allows the wheel to be attached to a Logitech G25 or G27 simulator setup.

Aluminum Plate Single Button/Switch holder

Part #: 0000-10-5660-1B
Racer Price: $25

Aluminum Plate Double Button/Switch holder
Part #: 0000-10-5660-2B
Racer Price: $35.00

Adapter to install steering wheel on Logitech G25-G27
Part #: 0000-10-5670-AD
Racer Price: $45.00