Mazda Motorsports Looks For Big Things in 2020

New Mazda Motorsports Director Nelson Cosgrove hopes to seize on momentum

Nelson Cosgrove, the new director of Mazda Motorsports, has a lot on his plate in the coming year. The RT24-P Daytona Prototype international program in IMSA has a lot of momentum going into 2020, with fans hoping for a victory in one of the Florida endurance races and for the team to be fighting for the overall championship. So is Cosgrove. Beyond that, Cosgrove will oversee the development of the Mazda3 TCR and also looks forward to taking a deep dive into Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires as well as grassroots racing, two areas he admits he has much to learn. But he’d rather come into a program that’s going full steam than one he has to get going, he says.

“I’ve done both in my career,” Cosgrove explains. “I’ve been in situations where you had to start from a period of struggle, and I would much rather be in a situation where you’re winning, because you have something you can build from. In motor racing, it’s very difficult to turn anything around, so I’ll take the winning-and-building-momentum program any day of the week.”

Replacing longtime program director John Doonan, who recently left Mazda Motorsports to head up IMSA, Cosgrove is still getting a feel for the Mazda Motorsports culture. But despite being new, he already has several clear objectives for Mazda’s professional motorsports programs.

“My top three goals are to win a race, to be up front and contend for wins, and make sure that we are competing for a championship [in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship],” he says. “I feel like the team and the drivers are at the point now where they’ve got confidence and they can close the deal. It’s great to watch those guys evolve and develop.

“I would love to win a few races, but I think it’s more important to be up front and compete every week, to be in contention, and we’ll see how the championship rolls out at the end,” he adds.

His objectives for other key programs for Mazda Motorsports are equally as clear. “I want to get the TCR car on track and developed, and then watch how MX-5 Cup comes out. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the [Mazda Road to 24] Shootout goes in December,” he says. 

While two of those programs are already on solid footing, the Mazda3 TCR is a brand-new race car that will be built and homologated to a worldwide formula where most of the competition is well established. Aside from various TCR championships around the world, TCR is a category incorporated into both SRO America’s TC America and in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge. 

“The TCR is at the point where testing is beginning and development will continue,” Cosgrove says. “There’s a lot of work to be done there. That’s going to be a challenge for the year and I’m really looking forward to seeing how that program grows.”

For Mazda Motorsports’ flagship program, he notes that Mazda Team Joest has been testing almost since the end of Petit Le Mans, spending a lot of time between Daytona and Sebring preparing for the coming competition season. “We’re trying to get prepared and hopefully start the season picking up where we left off.”

Next, we’ll hear from Cosgrove about the amateur motorsports side of his new position.