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MAZDA AND SKIP BARBER RACING SCHOOL ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC MOTORSPORTS PARTNERSHIP
World's Largest Sports Car Company Teams with Largest Racing and Driving School
ORLANDO , FL. (December 14, 2006) - Mazda North American Operations and Skip Barber Racing School LLC announced a new, long-term partnership agreement that promises to reshape the world of competitive motorsports. The agreement will deliver a broad range of programs designed to further define and strengthen the U.S. motorsports "ladder" through which drivers learn and gain experience on their way to the top ranks of amateur and professional racing.
Mazda will supply vehicles to Skip Barber for exclusive use in the "Skip Barber Driving School Powered by Mazda." The school annually graduates over 7,000 students and will feature the MAZDA 3 , MX-5 and RX-8 cars in a variety of purpose-built exercises at Skip Barber's premier base locations, including Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California, Sebring International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway in Florida, Road America in Wisconsin, and Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
In addition, Mazda engines will soon provide power to the 120 racecars used in the "Skip Barber Racing School Powered by Mazda" and the "Skip Barber Race Series Powered by Mazda." Skip Barber's Racing School annually graduates over 5,000 students and is offered at over 20 prominent racetracks across the nation. Graduates have included drivers Jeff Gordon, Michael and Marco Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, and other marquee names in professional racing.
Many Racing School graduates go on to race in the Skip Barber Race Series, long considered one of the key rungs on the motorsports development ladder. Over 1,000 competitors participate each year in one or more regional championships, one masters championship, or the prestigious entry level semi-pro series, the BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Presented by RACER.
"We are committed to developing the next generation of racers with a ladder system that provides drivers with Mazda and Mazda-powered open and closed-wheel cars throughout their careers," said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, and the man responsible for Mazda's North American Motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner. "Skip Barber is the perfect partner to help us realize this vision."
"The motorsports development path to achievement is about to get a lot clearer," said George Ayres, President and COO of Skip Barber Racing School LLC. "Skip Barber trains many of the world's top drivers and our leadership in this area will help strengthen Mazda's motorsports program. Mazda vehicles and engines will in turn help solidify our position as the leader in instructional and racing excellence for drivers who want to succeed."
Davis and Ayres each noted a series of connections and like-minded purposes that helped lead to the formation of the partnership. "On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle," said Davis. "We want the best-trained drivers in these cars and that is what Skip Barber is all about."
"Over fifty Skip Barber-trained drivers are currently racing Mazda or Mazda-powered cars in professional series races right now," said Ayres. "Dozens more are participating in amateur class events like Spec Miata. From Champ Car Atlantic powered by Mazda to ALMS and the Grand-Am Cup Series, the connections between our drivers and Mazda are strong and will grow stronger as a result of this partnership."
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. More information on the company is available at www.MazdaUSA.com, or on MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development at www.MazdaspeedMotorsports.com.
Headquartered in Lakeville, Conn., and operating out of five base locations (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California; Lime Rock Park in Connecticut; Road America in Wisconsin; and Sebring International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway, both in Florida), Skip Barber is the world's largest racing and driving school, available at over 20 race tracks across the U.S. and Canada. In addition to the Skip Barber Racing School, the company also runs the Skip Barber Driving School and the new High Performance Driving School. The company also operates six separate open-wheel racing championships, including the prestigious entry level pro series, the BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Presented by RACER. More information is available by calling 860.435.1300, and at www.skipbarber.com.