MOTORSPORT: Mazda is the official car of the SCCA

4911_Mazda RX-7 IMSA GTU

Mazda often boasts that on any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on racetracks than any other marque. As such, it was already the de facto car of the SCCA, but now it’s officially official. Mazda is the car of the Sports Car Club of America. 

4997_Mazda MX-5

The announcement came April 16 at Mazda’s R&D headquarters in Irvine, California. Mazda rolled out some of its racing heroes for the occasion, along with new cars that will carry out official SCCA duties.

4915_Mazda RX-7 IMSA GTU

This SCCA has, of course, been the premier organizer of road racing in America, from club to professional levels, since long before the days of John Morton’s 240Z or Carroll Shelby’s 2000GT.

4884_Mazda RX-7 IMSA FC

Ironically, Mazda’s spent most of its US racing career dominating rival league IMSA with over 100 wins in its RX-7s. IMSA, now restructured into the Rolex Grand-Am series, is still a formidable challenge for professional racers, and Mazda is no stranger there either (more on this later).

4889_Mazda 787

So what, exactly, does being the official of SCCA car entail? Well, if you look only at the press release, it appears that a Mazda will be the safety car for a few SCCA events and have their logo on a banquet. Sure, that’s great, but Mazda’s involvement with grassroots motorsports runs so much deeper than that.

4881_Mazda 2 B-spec

We all know the hobby can be ridiculously expensive, so Mazda has done everything it can to support racing, from the SCCA B-spec series that it started with Honda to the Spec Miata one-make series to first-gen RX-7s still competing in SCCA E-Production.

4878_Mazda MX-5

But wait, there’s more. Mazda also routinely seeks out and nurtures young racing talent at all levels, staring with karting. From there, graduates go on to open-wheeled cars powered by MX-5 2.0L fours or 1.3L Renesis rotaries.

4897_Mazda 787

It’s all part of Mazda’s Road to Indy program, and this year there will be as many as 10 of those graduates on the starting grid at the Indy 500. Many of these graduates go on to drive for other manufacturers, but Mazda says they’re okay with that, as long as it gets asses into racing buckets.

4976_Mazda 2 rally

Mazda also announced that they’d be renewing sponsorship of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca through 2016 and will continue charity work to help teens put the kibosh on distracted driving (i.e., texting while driving, which were most certainly not the cause for battles scars on the rally Mazda 2), all the while building cars that handle brilliantly, even when they’re crossovers.

4950_Mazda RX-7 IMSA FC

Mazda is also very proud of the fact that all of its classic race cars still run. We saw the magnificent 787 Le Mans car tear around Willow Springs last year at MazFest/SevenStock, and later this year at the Monterey Historics Mazda PR man Jeremy Barnes will be driving the championship IMSA FC RX-7 at Laguna Seca.

4872_Mazda RX-7 IMSA GTU

Apparently Yojiro Terada, Mazda’s factory driver who won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1979 with the GTU-class SA22 and has 29 Le Mans starts under his belt, is not shy about pushing any of the race cars in Mazda’s collection to its limits. With the exception of one — the 1991 787B. That, says Terada, is a national treasure for Japan, and is thus priceless.

4898_Mazda MX-6 IMSA GTU

The rest of the cars, though valuable in their own right, are still race cars, and Mazda believes in using them as such to inspire. One of the lesser known racers is the IMSA MX-6. In the 80s, as the RX-7 moved into the GTO class, the it took on duties in GTU.

4859_Mazda 6 Grand-Am Skyactiv-D

The modern equivalent to the MX-6 is the new 2014 Mazda 6 Skyactiv-D. Now that IMSA’s been repackaged as the Rolex Grand-Am series, the 6 is Hiroshima’s new flagship racer.

4859_Mazda 6 Grand-Am Skyactiv-D crankshaft

Mazda gave us a rare opportunity to look inside the 6 Skyactiv-D’s race motor. The “D” stands for the world’s first compound turbo diesel race engine, which meant countless hours of custom fabrication and testing, because you can’t simply buy parts from race shops as you can with petrol motors.

4859_Mazda 6 Grand-Am Skyactiv-D pistons

The motors produce about 400hp and 450lb-ft of torque on what’s mostly a stock block and head. Americans have been slow to embrace the diesel engine, but as they did with the rotary, Mazda’s hoping once again to change US perceptions by offering a street version of the Skyactiv-D in the 2014 Mazda 6. It’s almost like they do it the hard way on purpose.

4924_Mazda 787

What’s probably most impressive is that Mazda does all it does on a budget that it has. In 2012, Mazda sold less than 900,000 cars worldwide. In comparison, last year Toyota sold 1.16 million Corollas alone. As the auto industry consolidates, smaller ones willing to take risks are in danger of being edged out of the market. The ability to keep driving fun seems like a losing battle, but we hope that Mazda’s continued support of grassroots racing will keep it alive.

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13 Responses to MOTORSPORT: Mazda is the official car of the SCCA

  1. Ryan said:

    One of the reasons I bought my 7, mazda is a proud little under dog that wont follow the rules and make boring cars like everybody else!

  2. Ryan said:

    Absolutely love the Mazda way of doing things. Everyone’s hailing Toyota as the saviour of affordable sports cars, but Mazda has been doing it since… well… the 70′s really.

    I remember a JNCer here once likened Mazda to being that crazy uncle who just won’t give up on a ridiculous project

    Go the Hiroshima screamer!

  3. Geoff said:

    My FB approves this article.

  4. dickie said:

    Ben,

    I recently did a stint as a mechanic/pit crew for Formula Mazda, which is an SCCA open-wheel class based around the former Star Mazda series cars and a Weber carbed 13B powerplant. There’s also Pro Formula Mazda using an updated carbon fiber tub chassis and Renesis motor that I had some exposure to during my time with them.

    If you want some pics or info on the shop, the cars, or the stories I have from my time there I’d be happy to share.

    • Ryan said:

      Sounds interesting, why dont you start a thread in mazda section, I’d love to read that. cheers.

    • Kelly Greenidge said:

      Dickie I would love to see and read about your time with the Formula Mazda series please. I have attached my email so you could email me pic’s if you get the time?

  5. pete240z said:

    Mazda – Congratulations! If we head over to ebay and compare the total # of manual transmission cars in relation to the total # of cars for sale – Mazda wins. 192 manuals/815 Total Cars = 24%.

    Subaru; 23%, Nissan; 6%, Honda; 6%, Acura; 5%, Toyota; 4%.

    So why am I a Nissan Fan? Maybe I should jump the fence over to Mazda?

    • Geoff said:

      Get both.

      It’s the only economical thing to do. You really dont want to be putting all that wear and tear on just one car. With two cars, they last twice as long and get half the mileage!!

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