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Aug 29, 2007
August 23, 2007 (IRVINE, California). Earlier this month, Raphael Matos accepted a check for $2,000,000 from Steve Johnson on behalf of the Champ Car World Series, towards a ride in the 2008 Champ Car World Series. Matos earned this check by winning the 2007 Cooper Tires Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, top rung of the Mazda ladder series for open-wheel racing in North America. Matos' career has blossomed based upon talent alone, having come to America from his native Brazil, with virtually no money or racing contacts. Prior to his Atlantic Championship, Matos had won a Skip Barber Championship and the 2005 Star Mazda Championship, before graduating to the top open-wheel training series in the world.
Meanwhile at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières, Jason Saini scored his fifth win of the season to secure the 2007 SCCA Pro Racing SIRIUS Satellite Radio MX-5 Cup divers championship. In 2008, Saini will advance up the sports-car ladder to race a MAZDA 6 in the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship.
Announced earlier this year, the Mazda career ladder is designed to allow drivers like Matos and Saini to advance to the next level based on talent alone. For open-wheel racers, Mazda specifically committed to the following awards:
While spec series and championship awards are nothing new, Mazda is the first company to reward winning drivers with significant prizes along a logical path from karting to the Champ Cars, or from autocrossing to professional sports car racing.
"Everyone at Mazda is looking forward to seeing Raphael Matos and Jason Saini graduate to the next level in their careers" noted Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, Mazda North American Operations. "Raphael is the first driver to have participated and won in all levels encompassed by the Mazda ladder. He started out in karts, which Mazda now supports; he graduated to the Skip Barber pro series, now presented by Mazda, and has completed two years in Star Mazda. And now, after two years in the Atlantic Championship with Mazda power, the racing world is knocking on his door." Davis continued, "Jason started out as a club racer with dreams of SPEED World Challenge, and Mazda's helping make a racing career a reality for him, too. Raphael and Jason's results speak for themselves."
In addition to the open-wheel ladder, Mazda is supporting sports-car racers with their own ladder.
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, MAZDA 3 , MAZDA 6 , 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.