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Mazda To Use Import Drag Racing To Launch New Products and Build Its Brand May 14, 2001

Mazda To Use Import Drag Racing To Launch New Products and Build Its Brand May 14, 2001 - IRVINE, Calif. -- Strengthening its presence in the motorsports sponsorship arena, Mazda has again inked a motorsports agreement, this time with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) will sponsor the Summit Import Drag Racing Series finale at Pomona Raceway. This agreement comes on the heels of MNAO's announcement of its acquisition of naming rights to Laguna Seca, which is now Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.

"By sponsoring the first-ever NHRA-sanctioned Import World Finals, Mazda is demonstrating its commitment to the young, diverse consumers who are the backbone of this sport," said Charlie Hughes, president and CEO of MNAO. "These are the same buyers that we see lining up to order the new MP3 sport compact sedan and our 2002 Protegé5. The NHRA is the world's premier drag racing organization, and we are excited to be able to participate in the inaugural season of this new import drag racing series."

The Mazda NHRA Import World Finals will be held Sept. 29-30, at the historic Pomona Raceway. The scheduled event will be the season finale of the six-race, $120,000 inaugural NHRA Summit Import Drag Racing Series. The Mazda-sponsored competition will be televised on ESPN2, Monday, Oct. 15, at 8:30 p.m. (ET), with a re-broadcast on Friday, Oct. 19, at 12:30 a.m. (ET).

Prior to joining forces with the NHRA, Mazda signed on with the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) to rename the world famous road course, Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. This move marked the first time an auto manufacturer has held the title sponsorship of a major motorsports facility.

"Laguna Seca is America's premier road racing facility and one of the most recognized racetracks in the world," Hughes added. "We wanted a home away from home and a place we could demonstrate to our employees, dealers and customers the spirit that resides in all Mazdas."

As the title sponsor of the Monterey, California race facility, Mazda once again demonstrated their commitment to forging new ground in the area of sports marketing. In the late '90s, Mazda's crossover into motocross, with the title sponsorship of seven-time Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath, was also the first by an automobile manufacturer. The sponsorship of Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca marks the return of Mazda to top-level motorsports, where the company was the first and only Japanese automobile manufacturer to win the 24-Hours of LeMans endurance race.

Mazda's sponsorship deals with the NHRA and Laguna Seca were strategic moves as the company reemphasizes its sporty brand heritage and prepares to launch the new MP3 sport compact sedan and the 2002 Protegé5. Both cars are designed to appeal to the young, auto-racing fan demographic.

As an additional platform to feature their new cars, Mazda has also obtained the title sponsorship rights to the nationally renowned Hot Import Nights. Attacking the 16-30 demographic, Hot Import Nights will be featured in several different locations across the nation. The customized car show and concert is geared towards the growing import market and the diverse group of consumers attracted by the event.

Hot Import Nights is tentatively scheduled to stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean with stops in Dallas, TX; Long Beach, CA; Chicago, IL; Secaucus, NJ; Seattle, WA; York, PA; San Mateo, CA; Irvine, CA and Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Committed to all levels of motorsports, MNAO has established the Mazda Contingency Program. This unique grass roots level of support is targeted to aid motorsports participants in all forms of racing. Amateur and professional racers are elegible to join the program which provides technical support, as well as stock and competition parts at discount prices. Mazda also offers a comprehensive contingency awards program for many types and levels of motorsports, including import drag racing.

-All New MP3 And 2002 Protegé5-

The Mazda MP3 is a youthful, fun-to-drive, performance-oriented street package targeted at the growing sport compact sedan market in North America, with possible applications for the European and Japanese markets. Mazda R&D Engineering and Design developed the MP3 vehicle in concert with young, opinion-leading target buyers in the sport compact market, driving enthusiasts and selected racing/aftermarket manufacturers. The

Mazda MP3 combines Mazda's best-selling four-door sedan platform with select performance modifications and design cues from the racing/aftermarket industry, making the MP3 a true driver's car. The MP3 model, developed off the already highly acclaimed 2001 Protegé platform, receives a more aggressive appearance thanks to low-profile tires and aftermarket-looking wheels, a large front air dam with integrated driving lights, full body kit, large rear spoiler and electric blue paint.

Mazda teamed up with Kenwood Car Audio to equip the MP3 with, a high-energy sound system, featuring an industry first in-dash CD/ MP3 receiver, the Kenwood Excelon Z919. This state-of-the-art 280-watt, four-channel system features four speakers and a powerful 10-inch, trunk-mounted 100-watt subwoofer that allows customers to listen to standard AM/FM radio stations or play conventional CDs and MP3-encoded CD-Rs.

The five-passenger Mazda Protegé5 comes with a 130-horsepower DOHC, 16-valve, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission is optional.

The suspension system for the Protegé5 features independent, MacPherson struts for the front and independent struts located by Mazda's Twin-Trapezoidal Link (TTL) design for the rear. The Protegé5 will also feature16-inch alloy wheels with P195/50R16 83V all-season steel-belted radial tires and four-wheel disc brakes.

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.

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