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Sep 15, 2004
IRVINE, Calif. - When Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) introduced a turbocharged 2003 MAZDASPEED® Protegé in 2002, it was the first time the company had used the MAZDASPEED name on a street-legal car in North America. The company since has unveiled the limited-production 2003.5 and 2003.75 MAZDASPEED Protegés, the 2004 MAZDASPEED MX-5 Miata and the MAZDASPEED accessory-equipped RX-8.
"MAZDASPEED has a very devoted following in the United States," said Robert Davis, senior vice president of marketing and product development for MNAO. "Before a vehicle can wear the MAZDASPEED badge, it has to incorporate certain performance parts, all of which are produced to the highest original-equipment standards. If a car says MAZDASPEED on the back, I guarantee it's earned the right to do so."
In addition to new vehicles, the MAZDASPEED banner also incorporates competition components and factory-developed and warranted street performance parts and accessories as well as MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, Mazda's motorsports division.
The original limited-production 2003 MAZDASPEED Protegé was the successor to the Mazda MP3 sport compact sedan, which gained superstar status among automotive enthusiast magazines. The 2003.5 and 2003.75 MAZDASPEED Protegés followed the 2003 edition, with both vehicles achieving the highest performance standards with engine upgrades, enhancements to handling and braking, and unique exterior and interior styling cues that made them stand out on the road.
With the 2004 MAZDASPEED MX-5 Miata, Mazda proudly applied the MAZDASPEED nameplate (along with a turbocharger and suspension and styling updates) to the world's most popular convertible roadster. And there's more to come in the future...stay "tuned."
PARTS AND ACCESSORIES
MNAO expanded the MAZDASPEED line of competition parts already available to racers and added a complete line of performance-enhancing parts and accessories for street use that includes some of the go-fast hardware currently used on the MAZDASPEED-equipped RX-8, MAZDASPEED MX-5 Miata and previously used on the MAZDASPEED Protegés. Also available at MAZDASPEED dealers will be an array of fashion-forward MAZDASPEED apparel designed to appeal to active male and female enthusiasts of all ages.
As the only Japanese manufacturer to ever win the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race (in 1991), Mazda's motorsports roots run deep. Mazda began racing in the 1960s and since then has commanded a strong presence in the world of auto racing.
Today, Mazda has one of the strongest followings of amateur and grassroots racers in the sport. For example, at the 2004 SCCA Valvoline Runoffs, which was named by Car and Driver magazine as one of the top-10 racing events in motorsports, nearly one out of every six vehicles participating wore the Mazda "winged-M" logo on its exterior, more than any other manufacturer. Every weekend, there are more Mazdas involved in autocrossing and road racing than any other brand of vehicle - Zoom-Zoom indeed.
Thanks to the impeccable balance and superb overall performance of its products, Mazda also has tallied wins in the NHRA World Import Series, SCCA National Club Racing, Solo II, Pro Solo and Pro Rally events. The company also raced to victories in the SPEED World Challenge Touring class and Grand-Am Sport Touring class. Racing fans and racers alike will see the MAZDASPEED name appear ever larger in Mazda's ongoing U.S. racing activities, including the highly competitive Pro Formula Mazda open-wheel series, which now uses the RX-8-derived RENESIS rotary engine.
Another area where racing fans will see the MAZDASPEED colors will be at Mazda's "spiritual home," Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the nation's premier road- racing circuit, located in Monterey, Calif. MNAO acquired the naming rights to the famed raceway in 2001 and has been the driving force behind a multimillion dollar improvement project to make Mazda Raceway one of the world's most spectacular racing venues. Improvements to the facility have included the construction of permanent garages and pit-row suites (with another construction phase still to come), track and runoff-area improvements and additional promotional abilities. Unlike other "naming rights" relationships where companies simply write checks to prove their authenticity, Mazda Raceway is used to tune and develop new Mazdas months and years before they go on sale.
Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.
Visit www.mazdaspeedusa.com for more information about MAZDASPEED.