Mazda Motorsports’ new director sees a bright future for Mazda’s amateur racers
New director of Mazda Motorsports Nelson Cosgrove admits that the grassroots side of the racing is somewhat unfamiliar to him, having spent his career with Ford, Penske, Joe Gibbs Motorsports and Toyota Racing Development. But he likes what he’s seen so far in visits to Mazda and Mazda Motorsports headquarters in Irvine, Calif.
“When I was there, I met all the folks at the Mazda Motorsports competition parts department,” Cosgrove says. “They’re into it; it’s what they love. They love the customer stories, they love to engage with technical support, and they love the passion the customers have. That was one of the things that was really intriguing to me coming into this role. I’ve been in a couple of situations with OEMs in my past life, but the grassroots level was never part of that. This is an attractive part of the whole brand, and I think it’s awesome. Everything from autocross to club racing, Mazda’s roughly 55 percent of the participation – that’s a lot to say about the brand.”
Other than a little drag racing in his youth, Cosgrove doesn’t have much experience with amateur racing. He does have experience in Indy cars, F1 and NASCAR, and he looks forward to learning more about the grassroots side of the sport.
“I’m looking forward to going to those events, seeing how people race,” he explains. “I appreciate the effort that goes into it. I’m really excited to see these guys and watch them race and see the passion they have for the brand. There are people out there running all kinds of different Mazda products – RX-7s, RX-8s … those are cool cars. I’m a car guy; my first car was a Mazda 323, so I’ve been involved for a long time, but never at this level.”
Cosgrove hopes to get to the Road to 24 Shootout in early December, where Tray Ayres, Brandon Collins, Matthew Dirks, Aaron Jeansonne, Stuart McAleer and Jared Thomas will compete for a scholarship to compete in Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires, and he also wants to attend several club racing events in 2020. While he’s learning, though, he knows the program is in good hands.
“Mazda Motorsports has a system that allows racers to obtain technical help on the phone as well as to buy parts and kits, and there’s continuous development that goes on,” he says, mentioning the new Penske shocks for Spec Miata as well as improvements to other products. “I will say that there’s a bright future for autocrossers and club racers because the brand loves the sport.
“We’ve got a really good group of people at Mazda Motorsports who are very enthusiastic,” Cosgrove concludes, adding, “A cool thing I learned is that Mazda Motorsports’ parts are stored in different parts distribution centers around the country to shorten delivery time to the racer. It’s fully integrated into the whole company. I didn’t have any idea. Other places I’ve been, it’s not even close to that. At Mazda, motorsports is embedded into the culture.”