It was a big weekend for Mazda. Seven Stock was going on at its headquarters in Irvine, a ton of Mazda racers including Mazda Atlantics were at the SCCA run-offs in Road America, and finally the Dyson Racing team with their twin Mazda powered Lola coupes were taking on Acura at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Everyone thinks the big story at Petit Le Mans was the horrible rain delay but I say nay! The big story was that for the first time ever one the #16 Mazda (Driven By Chris Dyson & Guy Smith) was running the race with a new biofuel called “biobutanol”. Biobutanol is a new type of bio-fuel that has nearly the same capacity for energy as traditional gasoline but unlike other biofuels it doesn’t absorb water so to run this fuel requires minimal engine modification. Since one of the Mazda’s ran this new cutting edged fuel it had to be “UNC” or unclassified. Essentially it was running its own race against itself but before you write them off the #16 came in 7th place overall! Only the P1 cars could stay ahead of Dyson and Smith.
Meanwhile, as Dyson and Smith were making history with their experimental fuel the #20 Mazda was busy taking it to the P2 Acura’s and piloted their way to Mazda’s first class win since entering the P2 class of the American Le Mans series! Despite a new chassis and a one of a kind engine design Mazda has been chasing down the Acura’s all year and they finally pulled past them at the biggest ALMS race of the year. I’ve been watching this team closely for a while and I’m estatic to see them get their first win. Congrats to Mazda, Dyson Racing, and BP Fuels! Check out the video below for a full race recap via SPEED TV.
The subject of today’s “SPOTTED” is a Mazda but not just any Mazda, this is hands down one of the prettiest Mazdas I’ve ever laid my eyes upon! What you see on your computer screen just above this text is the Dyson Racing Lola B09/86 Mazda MZR-R. This closed-cockpit LMP2 class racer is easily one of the most striking cars you’ll see on track at any American LeMans Series weekend. It makes full use of title sponsor BP Fuel’s color scheme without being cheesy, its body lines are immaculate, and its Mazda MZR-R four-cylinder turbo charged engine is like Zeus’ trumpet! If you ever go to an ALMS series race this year do yourself a favor and stop by the Dyson Racing paddock. I got to hang out with them during the Long Beach Grand Prix back in April while the team was practicing their driver swap procedure. Check it out below.
Some might have told you that the big ticket for the second day of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach was the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race (AKA Scion pinball) but the real action was the American LeMans race. Four different classes of race cars lined up on the streets of Long Beach and it was my chance to see cars like the Mazda Lola Coupe, Falken Porsche RSR, and the Rahal Letterman Racing BMW M3′s up close and personal.
The race was absolutely nuts. There was everything from controversial penalties to a Corvette spontaneously combusting! Don’t worry about that last part though the driver (Boris Said) got out ok.
In the P2 class the Mazdas was taking it to the Acuras and were leading the class for a good portion of the race. This was a pretty impressive feat for Mazda considering that their Lola B09 coupe is so new that the paint is still drying. Although, despite an impressive run the Fernandez Racing P2 Acura was able to take the lead away from Mazda in pit lane. However Mazda was still able to keep the Acura’s in their sights and earned second and third on the podium.
The story in P1 was the battle between Gil De Ferran’s Acura team and the Tequila Patron Highcroft Acura’s. The Tequila Patron team is used to being on top but legendary Honda/Acura driver Gil De Ferrran wasn’t having it. Gil has raced on the streets of Long Beach many times in his legendary career but never managed to win. He was a runner up many times but couldn’t quite get his feet on the top spot of the podium…until this weekend. He and teammate Simon Pagenaud were able to hold off Scott Sharp and David Brabham to take the win. A controversial pit lane call against the Highcroft team didn’t hurt Gil’s efforts either. More on that below.
In the GT2 Class things got hot…literally. Things were going fine until one #28 Riley Corvette driven by Boris Said suddenly burst into flames. Boris must have saw it coming because during the replay you could see that he already had the door open and was ripping himself out of his harness before the car even came to a complete stop. Luckily Boris was ok and suffered only minor injuries.
The American Le Mans race is in my opinion the best part of the weekend short of the main event. If you didn’t make it out to Long Beach this year I highly suggest that you start planning for next year. I guarantee you’ll have a blast.
Now check out SPEED’s recap of the race and after that a few pictures taken by yours truly.
Our good friend Bill Wood did it again. This time he caught up with Chris Dyson at a BP Fuel/Mazda event last week in Beverly Hills. They talk racing and alternative fuels. Its a good way to spend 4 minutes! Thanks again Bill!