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Sep 16, 2002
Monterey, Calif. - Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) will showcase the company's extensive and expanding involvement in motorsports during the Monterey Sports Car Championships, September 20-22, at historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS). The legendary raceway will play host to a variety of MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development division activities, highlighted by the unveiling of the new Star Formula Mazda racecar on Saturday, Sept. 21. The Star Mazda race will be held the following day immediately preceding the prestigious American Le Mans Series race.
The reveal of the new Mazda and Elan Motorsports Technologies-developed Star Mazda racecar will be just one of many weekend events in which MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development will play a leading role. Following recent back-to-back victories in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car series, Mazda vaulted into second place in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car manufacturer's points standings last month and will look to gain more ground on points-leader, BMW, during Saturday's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race. In support of the chase for the manufacturer's points title, Mazda has doubled its contingency awards for its Protegé race teams.
Building on the popularity of its prolific Miata, Mazda will support two Miata Challenge Races-one Saturday and one Sunday. The races will feature uniformly built and tuned Spec Miatas in head-to-head competition. The inaugural MAZDASPEED Cup Spec Miata event last summer, drew the largest starting line-up of any race ever held at MRLS with 70 vehicles in the field.
Sunday's Mazda Extreme Street event area will feature nearly 100 of the highest quality aftermarket vehicles in the region. Designed as an exhibitor's and enthusiast's paradise, the Mazda Extreme Street event educates and creates excitement within the sport compact car market.
"Mazda's involvement in racing programs such as Star Mazda, the SCCA, Spec Miata and Mazda Extreme Street is a prime example of our commitment to furthering our motorsports heritage," said Charlie Hughes, president and CEO of MNAO. "All of Mazda's successful motorsports endeavors demonstrate why we truly can say there is the soul of a sports car in every vehicle we build." The Star Mazda racecar, featuring the same next-generation Mazda rotary engine in the forthcoming Mazda RX-8, is scheduled for testing in 2003 and will run on the Star Mazda Series North American Championship, a support series to the American Le Mans Series, in 2004.
The Star Mazda Series develops racecar driving careers by providing an opportunity for drivers to compete on the same racetracks used for professional events and is one of the most successful racing series in the U.S. Many well-respected drivers have risen through the ranks from Star Mazda, including Formula Atlantic Rookie of the Year Joey Hand and Le Mans 24-hour GT class winner Bruno Lambert. Last year, an average of more than 40 racecars started each Star Mazda series event. Last month, Mazda announced that all of its U.S. Motorsports activities would be part of the company's MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development division, and earlier this year, Mazda extended its relationship with the American Le Mans Series and the Star Mazda Series through 2008.
Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.