December 20, 2011 (Irvine, Calif.) Racing has pretty much become a year-round sport. While most of the professional series concluded in September and October, activities continued through November and December. Among the recent MAZDASPEED highlights:
The last big race of the year was the annual NASA Thunderhill 25-Hour race. Mazda once again dominated with a third of the 86 car field being Zoom-Zoom powered. Mazda cars competed in four of six classes and took four wins, and ten of 12 possible podium positions. Among the class winners was C.J. Wilson Racing. The team entered two cars and C.J. added winning team owner to his resume after being a winning driver in 2010. Since he has a full-time job in another sport, C.J. has the world's shortest racing season, between the World Series and spring training.
Mazda had a large presence at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show. Among the highlights was the fourth annual MAZDASPEED Business Seminar to help racers learn about the off-track demands. The seminar was standing room only. Mazda also announced preliminary pricing of the "B-Spec" kit for the Mazda2. Mazda and Cooper Tires co-hosted GoRacingTV.com. Videos from the PRI show are available for viewing at www.goracingtv.com
- SpeedSource Race Engineering announced their Rolex 24 line-up of Sylvain Tremblay, Jonathan Bomarito, Marino Franchitti, and James Hinchcliffe. Tremblay and Bomarito will race the entire season in the RX-8, now in the latest MAZDASPEED colors. Additional information on SpeedSource can be found at www.speedsourceinc.com
- Dempsey Racing will race in support of Team Seattle at the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 26 - 28, and throughout the 2012 season for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, with both the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT and No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT. The lineup of drivers includes full-season pilots Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman, Dempsey's designated stand-in Tom Long, and Team Seattle Rolex 24 specialists Don Kitch Jr., Rick Johnson and Dan Rogers. Additional information on Dempsey Racing can be found at www.dempseyracing.net
- Dyson Racing will be testing 2011 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Lites 1 champion Ricardo Vera on December 20 at Sebring.
- Chris Dyson and Guy Smith have been named to the 2011 American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-American team. The awards will be made January 8, 2012 in Indianapolis. www.aarwba.org
From the SCCA Pro-Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup:
- Three events on the 2012 Playboy MX-5 Cup schedule have already been announced, with the series participating in some of the biggest road racing events of the season. The season will open at the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 14-17, and conclude at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, October 17-20. In between, the MX-5 Cup will visit Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 11-13. The complete schedule should be announced in January.
- The Playboy MX-5 Cup announced at the PRI Show in Orlando that the Skip Barber Racing School MAZDASPEED Challenge race series will join the MX-5 Cup for all races in 2012. Like the MX-5 Cup, the MAZDASPEED Challenge cars are identically prepared Mazda MX-5s. For 2012, Skip Barber Racing School will provide an arrive-and-drive race program with coaching to customers who want to race at a higher level with the professionals, without the required investment in capital and other resources to establish their own team.
- Additional information on the series can be found at www.mx-5cup.com
From the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear:
- 2011 Star Mazda Champion Tristan Vautier graduates to 2012 Indy Lights season with scholarship from the Mazda Road to Indy/MAZDASPEED Ladder. Tristan will join the twice-defending champion team, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, in the team's No. 77 car.
- Star Mazda Champions announces 2012 schedule of 18 races on 10 weekends, most with INDYCAR.
- Star Mazda team Juncos Racing expands to Indy Lights with Davey Hamilton Racing.
- Rising female open-wheel star Ashley Freiberg is set to run the full 2012 Star Mazda Championship with backing from Truecar.com's "Women Empowered" initiative.
- Additional information on the series can be found at www.starmazda.com
From the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda:
- Scott Anderson, 2011 Skip Barber National Champion graduates to the USF2000 Championship thanks to the MAZDASPEED Ladder. Scott will be joining Belardi Racing.
- The soon to be announced 2012 schedule will feature an increase to 14 races at premier venues in support of INDYCAR and American Le Mans Series events with the season-opener taking place at the prestigious 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
- 2012 will see five new team additions and several new driver announcements including Matthew Brabham, son of four-time IMSA GTP champion Geoff Brabham and the grandson of three-time Formula 1 champion Sir Jack Brabham, Thomas McGregor, 2011 Skip Barber Racing School Formula Southern Series Champion, and Trent Hindman, 2011 Ontario Formula Ford Champion and Team USA Scholarship winner.
- Popular driver Shannon McIntosh will return to the series with backing from Truecar.com's "Women Empowered" initiative.
- Cooper Tires Winterfest will take place at Sebring International Raceway and Palm Beach International Raceway during the first week of February. The USF2000 cars conduct a six-race mini-series.
- Additional information on the series can be found at www.usf2000.com
More MAZDASPEED Ladder Graduate News:
- 2011 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup champion Mike Cooper has earned a ride in the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge. He will be announcing his team selection soon.
- Elliott Skeer won the Mazda Club Racer Shootout after winning the NASA Teen Challenge Spec Miata West Championship. Elliott is talking with the leading MX-5 Cup teams as he makes his 2012 selection. Elliott and his Spec Miata will be featured in the San Diego Auto Show, December 29-31.
- Danilo Estrella and Tristan DeGrand won rides with Skip Barber after the recent Skip Barber Karting Shootout.
From the Skip Barber Racing School:
- The 2011/2012 Winter Series kicked off their season on November 11, and will wrap up on April 14, 2012. After the first four races Jack Mitchell Jr. and Colin wall are tied for the points lead in the formula cars, while Nelson Canache has the lead in the MAZDASPEED Challenge for MX-5s.
- Additional information on the Skip Barber Racing School can be found at www.skipbarber.com
From Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca:
- The 2012 season at Mazda Raceway will be diverse and world class.
- American Le Mans Monterey, presented by Patron (May 11-12)
- Ferrari Racing Days (May 18-20)
- Red Bull United States Grand Prix featuring the MotoGP World Championship (July 27-29)
- Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (August 17-19)
- Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, Powered by Mazda (September 7-9)
- Additional information on Mazda Raceway can be found at www.mazdaraceway.com
About Mazda & MAZDASPEED
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world's largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and 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; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com Racers and fans can the action on facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).