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-- Mazda Doubles The TV Time: 60 Minutes Per Race --
Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Series Logo

July 9, 2008 (Irvine, Calif.). After months of hard work, created by the open wheel unification in February, Mazda is pleased to announce the 2008 TV package for the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. The series will have all eight races broadcast in an expanded 60-minute package by DIRECTV and DISH Network. All content will be produced by the Carolinas Production Group/Visioncast.

Race fans from coast-to-coast with DIRECTV or DISH Network will find the races broadcast on Comcast Sports Net West (CSN West) and MASN (Mid Atlantic Sports Net), both a part of their sports paks. In addition to national coverage, the races will be broadcast regionally on Time Warner Sports Net, LoneStar Sports Net, Comcast 900 Sports, MavTV, AmericaOne Network, and AMGTV. Each race will have multiple broadcasts. Additional channels may be added as the season progresses.

In what is believed to be a first for a professional series the races will also be available online via a dedicated channel -- search for "MX-5 Cup". Each race will be available on demand.

The broadcast team will be led by veteran Rick Benjamin. The analyst will be Hall of Fame racer Elliott Forbes-Robinson, aka "EFR". EFR is still very much hands-on and lapped with the MX-5 racers in a Road Atlanta practice session. Pit reporters will be a rotation of Derek Pernesiglio, Todd Lewis, and Rod Albright. Joe Ligon & Tom Gee will produce the shows. All have extensive motorsports backgrounds and know their way around a racetrack.


Jim Jordan, Alternative Marketing Manager, Mazda North American Operations: "In just two years, the MX-5 Cup has established a reputation for great racing, extremely close action, with a minimum of yellow flag time. To better showcase the races, and allow for more feature stories we have stepped up our TV package to a full one-hour program per race. Airtimes will vary by region but will reach over 53 million households when the first race airs this week. When we asked our racers, and our fans what they most wanted to see changed for 2008, the number one answer was show the complete race, and the 60 minute format will allow for that. We are also pleased to have new partners like Playboy and LifeLock joining Mazda and Kumho for the broadcasts."

Rick Benjamin, Carolinas Production Group/Visioncast: "I'm excited our company has the opportunity to take this outstanding motorsports series and add major elements of creativity and production value to its broadcast coverage. We've been able to work with a terrific platform created by Mazda and its partners in the MX-5 Cup series and create coverage for this series that I think will help it become an even bigger factor in professional racing. EFR is an old friend whom I had the pleasure of working with on Trans Am and World Challenge coverage on ESPN a few years ago and it's a treat to be able to bring a world-class driver like Elliott to this project for his valuable insights. Our pit reporters are all strong pros who know the sport and are bringing fans inside the paddock like never before with the MX-5 Cup. We've been able to put together a network-level broadcast crew to cover the series, and I think fans and stakeholders in the championship will be pleased with what they'll see this season and beyond."

Elliott Forbes-Robinson: "I had never driven an MX-5 Miata before and was impressed with the brakes and handling of the car, when I took a few laps at Road Atlanta. It really is a ball to drive and considering that it is almost stock it really performs great. After watching the first race of the year at the Mitty weekend I could tell that the series has quite a few drivers that do a really good job of racing. The qualifying and the racing is very close and the drivers were not making crazy moves and raced well together. The race was fantastic and I am looking forward to working with Rick Benjamin on the rest of the races in 2008."

Schedule: Detailed broadcast schedules will be posted to both and

Race Date


TV Broadcast

May 3

Road Atlanta

Beginning the week of July 7th

May 18


Beginning the week of July 21st

July 27


Beginning the week of August 18th

August 10

Road America

Beginning the week of September 8th

August 16


Beginning the week of September 22nd

September 21

Miller Motorsports Park

Beginning the week of October 13th

September 28

New Jersey Motorsports Park

Beginning the week of October 27th

October 19

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Beginning the week of November 10th


When the IRL/Champ Car unification took place, most in the racing world were relieved, seeing the long term growth potential for open wheel racing. What was less understood at the time was the ripple effect to many of the support series, both open and closed wheel. Many of these race schedules, and TV packages were based upon working with Champ Car at multiple venues to share costs. With Champ Car gone, a great deal of work was at hand. Mazda, with four series was the most impacted. The Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear, the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, and the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup were all directly impacted. The cancellation of the Houston and Cleveland races resulted in the loss of six Mazda races as each was a triple-header for multiple series of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development program.

The first priority was to rebuild the race schedules. Mazda worked hand-in-hand with all of their partners to secure race dates for each cancelled Champ car event. This included creating new events like the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland and the Mazda Grand Prix of New Jersey. From the original 46 races scheduled, 45 races were maintained. Once the schedules were set, attention to the TV package became the priority. All Star Mazda races are being broadcast on SPEED. The Atlantic TV package will be announced at a later date.

SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup:

Stepping up in place of the former MAZDASPEED Miata Cup, the Mazda MX-5 Cup made its debut in 2006. Featuring identical Mazda MX-5s on spec Kumho tires, MX-5 Cup gives drivers the opportunity to run on high-profile weekends in an economical, entry-level racing series. The 2008 MX-5 Cup schedule features eight races at prestigious events across North America, and with grids composed of roughly 30 cars at each race, MX-5 Cup has become one of the best shows in motorsports today. The season champion is awarded a factory supported Mazda ride in the series above. 2007 MX-5 Cup Champion Jason Saini is racing a MAZDA6 in the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship.

About Mazda:

Mazda is the brand of choice for road-racers across North America. More than 9,000 grassroots racers compete in various classes with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Racers who are years away from earning a driver's license can now begin their professional motorsports careers in the Mazda family. A driver can begin in karts and progress through the Skip Barber series, Club Racing Formula Mazda, professional Star Mazda and finally to Formula Atlantic, all with Mazda. No other car company has ever connected the dots this way.

On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you'll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the largest road-racing class in the world is Spec Miata, with more than 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

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