Hype News: Indy Cars Cross The Golden Gate Bridge In Honor Of Justin Wilson (Video)

Posted on 08.28.15 | Andrew Beckford No Comments


The next and final race in the Indy Car 2015 season is the Grand Prix Of Sonoma up in northern California.  To promote the race, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was shut down (at least half of it was anyway) and five Indy Cars were sent across it to deliver the Astor Cup (series championship trophy) to the race venue.

While this event was likely at its birth a plan to simply promote the last race of the season, it was also turned into a tribute to Justin Wilson who tragically passed away earlier this week due to an accident.  Leading the Indy Cars was Marco Andretti (Justin’s teammate) driving Justin’s #25 car.  Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Graham Rahal followed while James Hinchcliffe brought up the rear driving a two seater Indy Car with the Astor Cup occupying the back seat.

Two safety vehicles were on hand as well, flying Justin Wilson’s flags to further honor the driver.  You can watch a video of the event below.

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Hype: New Indy Lights Cars To Be Powered By Mazda. Indy Lights Now Officially Part Of Mazda Motorsports Ladder

Posted on 12.12.14 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Mazda North American Operations Dallara Indy Lights

Mazda just announced that they are officially taking over as the engine provider for the Indy Lights series which is a feeder series directly to Indy Car.  Previously, Indy Lights cars were powered by V8s that were derivatives of Nissan/Infiniti engines.  The new Indy Lights cars will be powered by a version of Mazda’s 4 cylinder 2.0 liter turbocharged MZR-R engine.  If that engine sounds familiar its probably because it is the same powerplant Mazda developed in partnership with Advanced Engine Research (AER) for Mazda’s American LeMan’s series program.  The Indy Lights version will have slightly less power (450hp) than the LeMan’s version (500hp) however the Indy Lights MZR-R is also built for durability as Mazda Motorsports claims that one of these engines can go for an entire Indy Lights season without needing a rebuild.  This should make the racing much better with no mechanical DNFs and also make things a little bit easier financially on the teams.

Here’s hoping that the addition of lower cost, higher efficiency engines to the Indy Lights series results in more talent making their way up to the Indy Car series!  Expect the new Indy Lights chassis and Mazda engines to line up on the grid next season.  For more info, feel free to check out the official press release below.

Press Release:

Mazda Powers Indy Lights in 2015

Mazda Enters Third Decade of Open-Wheel Racing with Addition of Indy Lights

December 11, 2014 (INDIANAPOLIS) — Mazda announced the addition of Mazda-power in the all-new 2015 Dallara Indy Lights chassis at the annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show. This was the latest development in its ongoing commitment to motorsports, which includes the Mazda Road to Indy, the most comprehensive driver development system in the world.

While most noted for success in sports cars, Mazda has been active in open-wheel, formula-car racing since 1984.  In recent years, that has developed into the Mazda Road to Indy, where aspiring racers can advance upwards along a logical progression from karts all the way to the Verizon IndyCar Series.  In 2014, Mazda powered both the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.  For 2015, Mazda adds Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

The all-new Dallara IL-15 Indy Lights chassis will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R.  Originally developed in conjunction with Advanced Engine Research (AER), the MZR-R was first campaigned by Mazda in the American Le Mans Series and Mazda customer teams in the European Le Mans Series.  The engine enjoyed several milestone victories, among them were Mazda’s first-ever major North American overall sports car racing win and the 2011 LMP1 engine manufacturers championship.  The engine, further developed by AER, will be designed to produce 450 horsepower and last an entire season without a rebuild.

The 2015 Mazda Road to Indy schedule will kick off with the fifth annual pre-season Cooper Tires Winterfest at NOLA Motorsports Park, just outside of New Orleans, La., on February 18-20 and will move to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala., on February 24-26.  The official season will open at St. Petersburg on March 27-29 and conclude at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 11-13.

John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports: “The Mazda Road to Indy is a great showcase for what Mazda represents.  Our strength is in helping drivers move up the ranks.  Almost a third of the Indy 500 field traces their roots to Mazda.  Adding the Indy Lights series allows us to have an even longer, more productive relationship with the Indy stars of the future.  We were among the first to recognize the on- and off-track talents of racers like Simon Pagenaud, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, and many others.  We can’t wait for the season to start at St. Pete, all the way to autumn in Monterey at our own Mazda Raceway for the season finales.”

Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions:  “From the onset of my involvement with Indy Lights, it’s been my hope to have our longtime partner, Mazda, join us in this effort. My decision to select AER as our engine provider was consciously made knowing the substantial Mazda involvement with the engine proposed by AER, and today I am delighted to confirm that the IL-15’s engine does indeed have deep Mazda roots. Mazda does more for open-wheel racing in North America than any other manufacturer, and its full involvement in the Mazda Road to Indy is great news for all.”

Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co, the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:  “Today’s announcement that Mazda has agreed to become the Indy Lights engine supplier next season is another pivotal step forward for the series. Mazda’s increased commitment to Indy Lights, and their continued support of the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder system, is instrumental in the development of the next generation of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. We’re thankful for their partnership and certainly look forward to having Mazda power behind the new Dallara IL-15 chassis in 2015.”

Chris Pantani, Director of Motorsports for Cooper Tires:  “Knowing that Mazda is once again our partner, this time in Indy Lights, continues to prove that the combination of Cooper Tires and Mazda is the best choice in the career path of a developmental driver.  Our relationship with Mazda started in 2006, and continues to be the path chosen by many champions in the early stages of their careers.”

Spencer Pigot, Champion – 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires:  “It would not be an exaggeration to say that I would not be where I am today without Mazda and the Mazda Road to Indy. They have been a huge part of my career since I began car racing. I’m thrilled to be the first driver to ever earn three Mazda scholarships, the first one being in 2009 when I was still in karting, to making the move up to the Skip Barber National Championship.  The cost to rise through the racing ranks is so expensive, that it is only with support like the Mazda Road to Indy that many drivers can succeed.  I can’t wait to start the season in 2015.”

About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports, and MAZDASPEED

Mazda is a leading player in all aspects of sports car racing with an emphasis on endurance road racing.  Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America among both club racers and professionals.  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.  Via the Mazda Road to Indy and the Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy, Mazda supports racers at all levels of the sport from club racing up to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship where it races with production SKYACTIV Technology.

Mazda remains the only Asian car company to score an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1991).  Mazda has had a naming rights agreement at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since 2000.

Mazda 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 and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers.  Operations in Mexico are managed 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 follow the action on Facebook (Mazda Motorsports), Twitter (@mazdaracing), Instagram (MazdaMotorsport) and www.mazdamotorsports.com

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BREAKING Hype News: Dario Franchitti Announces His Retirement From Indy Car Racing

Posted on 11.14.13 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Day 1

In a statement put out by the man himself just moments ago he officially announces his retirement from Indy Car racing due to injuries he suffered earlier this year during an accident in Houston.

You can read his official statement below:

Statement from Dario Franchitti:

“Since my racing accident in Houston, I have been in the expert care of some of the leading doctors and nurses, all of whom have made my health, my safety and my recovery their top priority.  I am eternally grateful for the medical care I have received over the last several weeks.  I’d also like to thank my family and friends for their unbelievable support.

One month removed from the crash and based upon the expert advice of the doctors who have treated and assessed my head and spinal injuries post accident, it is their best medical opinion that I must stop racing.  They have made it very clear that the risks involved in further racing are too great and could be detrimental to my long term well-being.  Based on this medical advice, I have no choice but to stop.

Racing has been my life for over 30 years and it’s really tough to think that the driving side is now over.  I was really looking forward to the 2014 season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with a goal of winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 and a fifth IndyCar Series championship.

I’d like to thank all my fellow competitors, teammates, crew and sponsors for their incredible support over the course of this amazing ride.  I’d also like to thank Hogan Racing, Team KOOL Green and Andretti Green Racing for the opportunities to compete on the racetrack, and especially Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who have become like a family to me since I joined their team back in 2008.  I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all my fans around the world.  I can’t thank you enough for standing by my side for all these years.

I’ll forever look back on my time racing in CART and the IndyCar Series with fond memories and the relationships I’ve forged in the sport will last a lifetime.

Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to continue in some off-track capacity with the IndyCar Series.  I love open-wheel racing and I want to see it succeed.  I’ll be working with Chip to see how I can stay involved with the team, and with all the amazing friends I’ve made over the years at Target.

As my buddy Greg Moore would say, ‘See you up front’”

As a fan of American open wheel racing I have watched Dario drive for years. I have always been a fan so this is a pretty sad day. However I give much kudos to Dario for taking the advice of medical professionals and having the inner strength to walk away from doing what he loves so much. It is much better for him to go out this way rather than for something horrible to happen in the future due to his injuries.

Hopefully as the man said, we will still see him in Indy Car in some other capacity in the future.

Thanks for the memories Dario!

[Source: Franchitti.com]

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Hype Video: The Men And The Porsche RSR By Clashproduction

Posted on 10.24.13 | Andrew Beckford No Comments


For those of us who already have a passion for Motorsports, we understand that there is an inherent drama in racing that is immediately recognizable.  Since we understand racing we can see the struggle, the sacrifice, the frustration, and joy of motorsport very easily.  However, sometimes when such things are committed to film, especially by very talented individuals, even a initiated motorsport enthusiast can see things in a new way.

For example take Clash Production’s newest flick.  At its core its really just about a team (Dijkstra Racing) and two drivers racing their Porsche RSR at Spa Francorchamps.  Yet, the way that the Clash team filmed the event, just adds more to the experience.  They have a real knack for putting their viewers into the racing seat so to speak.  Seriously these guys are awesome.  Anyhow I will stop typing here so you can scroll down and enjoy “The Men and The RSR”.

Part 1

Part 2

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F1 Hype: Singapore Grand Prix (Quick Result)

Posted on 09.22.13 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Miss out on the Singapore GP this weekend?  Its ok, we wont revoke your gear head card.  Instead we will help you out with the official results.  But first a little tidbits of note: Kimi Raikkonen did the whole race with a painful back injury and Mark Webber got hit with a penalty after hitching a ride on Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari after his car got stuck at turn 7!  Crazy right!  Ok, ok on to the results.


1st place: Sebastian Vettel
2nd place: Fernando Alonso
3rd place: Kimi Raikkonen

Sebastian Vettel now has a 60 point lead over his closest points competitor Fernando Alonso.  However there are still 6 races left in the season so even though it seems tough there are still at least a few drivers who have a shot at taking down Vettel.  The rest of the year should be interesting (hopefully).

[Photo: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images]

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Indy Car Hype: GoPro Indy Grand Prix Of Sonoma (Video)

Posted on 08.27.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments


With the F1 and Drifting break it has been a while since I’ve had some motorsport news here so it is good to have some today!  We are starting off with the GoPro Indy Grand Prix Of Sonoma at the Sonoma Road Course in what was a rough weekend for many drivers at the top of the points battle.  Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, and James Hinchcliffe all had pretty bad practice sessions which left them with a lack of confidence going into qualifying and the race on Sunday.  On the other hand Team Penske seemed to find their groove as Will Power and Ryan Briscoe both had strong practice and qualifying efforts.  Helio Castroneves had a few hiccups but kept himself at the front of the field for the race start.

NOTE: IndyCar now puts entire races on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.  If you want to watch the whole thing unfold for yourself then just watch below.  If you want the cliff notes just scroll past the video and read on.

However once the race went underway Helio got into the back of Scott Dixon, spinning him out which effectively jacked up Scott’s day and Helio’s as he was given a drive through penalty for avoidable contact.  Later on James Hinchcliffe retired after being punted by a lapped car which upset the oil pressure and ended his day early.  Up front,  Will Power was running away from the field for the most part and everything was going his way until a late caution while he was in the pits caused a mix up that ended up putting him behind his teammate Ryan Briscoe in the restart.  Behind that Ryan Hunter-Reay shook off any anti-confidence demons he had to work his way up to third but a dive-bomb boner by Tagliani spun Ryan out and put him at the back of the field with less than 10 laps remaining.

With Ryan Hunter-Reay put way in the back Will Power decided it would probably be best to avoid pressuring Ryan Briscoe too much and possibly ruining his points run.  As such Ryan Briscoe went on to win the race with Will Power coming in second, and Dario Franchitti taking third.  Will Power remains in the championship lead and Ryan Hunter-Reay is now 35 points behind Power and only 5 points ahead of Helio Castroneves going into the next race at Baltimore.  After Baltimore is the final race of the season when Indy Car returns to California Speedway for the MAVTv 500.

Can Will Power keep his lead and get his first championship?  Or will Ryan Hunter-Reay or Helio Castroneves come from behind?  Only two more races to go!

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Motorsport Hype: Mazda Will Take New Skyactiv-D Diesel Race Engine To 2013 24 Hours Of LeMans

Posted on 06.18.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Soon after Audi made history this weekend by achieving the first 24 Hours Of LeMans victory with a hybrid race car, Mazda has announced that they will take their knew “Skyactiv-D” race engine to next year’s LeMans race with Dempsey Racing’s LMP2 class program.  The Skyactiv-D race engine is the result of a partnership between Mazdaspeed Motorsports and SpeedSource racing.  When all was said and done SpeedSource started with a stock Skyactive-D 2.2 liter engine block and turned it into a dual-staged turbo’d beast.  Although I am not sure of the performance numbers I am sure this engine is more than capable of hanging with the big dogs in the class.  I personally can’t wait to see Mazda run in the prototype class at LeMans again!


Press Release:



June 16, 2012 (LE MANS, FRANCE)  Mazda Motorsports today announced that it will sell racing versions of its new SKYACTIV-D CLEAN DIESEL engines to teams competing in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class of racing’s greatest endurance challenge – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  The Le Mans engine program will make its debut at the 2013 running of the race.  Mazda was the first – and to this day, remains the only – Asian manufacturer to score an overall win at the race, in 1991.

“This reopens our love affair with Le Mans,” said Jay Amestoy, Vice President of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). “In 1991 we made history, winning with rotary technology.  Now we’re looking to return to the winner’s circle with what we believe will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen.  We’ll do it in current Mazda style, with engines being available for sale to European and U.S. customers competing in the LMP2 class for both the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).”

The engines are being developed jointly by Mazda Motor Corporation, Mazda North American Operations and SpeedSource Race Engineering.  Dyno testing has already begun and on-track testing begins in late 2012. 

The engines will be stock-block Mazda SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder, dual-stage turbocharged powerplants.  According to John Doonan, MNAO’s Director of Mazda Motorsports, “will deliver outstanding performance and fuel economy coupled with the kind of quality, durability and reliability needed to produce great street cars and win endurance races.”

 Mr. Masahiro Moro, Executive Officer in charge of global sales and marketing of Mazda Motor Corporation, made the following comment:  “Mazda has fostered the culture of ‘never stop challenging.’  And it was this spirit that drove us through 18 consecutive years of racing at Le Mans, until we finally triumphed in 1991.  In fact, it is this same spirit that laid the foundation for the portfolio of SKYACTIV Technologies.  This was realized thanks to a number of technological breakthroughs.  I am pleased that we will be supporting our private customers who are taking up the Le Mans challenge by supplying race engines as a customer-program based on our SKYACTIV-D CLEAN DIESEL.”


Planning and preparations continue for Dempsey Racing to become the first LMP2 customer for the Mazda SKYACTIV-D racing powerplant.  Dempsey Racing is co-owned by racer/actor Patrick Dempsey.

Dempsey Racing has been racing Mazda RX-8s in the GRAND-AM GT class since 2007 with their highlight being a podium finish at the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona.  The team has steadily improved their on-track performance since their arrival in the series, and was a key contributor to Mazda winning the 2010 GRAND-AM GT Manufacturers Championship.  With support from several partners such as VISITFLORIDA.com, Dempsey Racing expanded their operation this year to include a team running in the American Le Mans Series, and is competing in both the Prototype Challenge (LMPC) and Prototype 2 (LMP2) classes as they prepare for their Le Mans effort. In fact both team owner Dempsey and co-driver Joe Foster are currently testing their LMP2 car in Virginia as the rest of the sports car world focuses on the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend.

Patrick Dempsey and his business partner/co-driver Joe Foster have both competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as drivers in the GT category, and are eager to return in 2013, this time in the LMP2 class and with Mazda SKYACTIV-D clean diesel-power.

Patrick Dempsey comments “Our long-term partnership with Mazda has been fantastic, and we look forward to mutual success as we prepare for 2013.  We are focused on that preparation which is why we are currently testing our LMP2 car here in the US in preparation for the next ALMS event.  Our team and partners are excited to be associated with SKYACTIV-D technology and the cutting-edge green technology it represents.”

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’s 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 and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers.  Operations in Mexico are managed 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 follow the action on facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).


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Hype News: GRAND-AM Officially Adds B-Spec Races To 2012 Schedule

Posted on 01.31.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

Just as the 50th Rolex 24 Hours Of Daytona race was getting underway GRAND-AM made the announcement that B-Spec racing would be included as part of their 2012 season.  I suspected that B-spec would become a part of GRAND-AM soon but I did not think it would come this soon!  For now B-Spec drivers will be allowed to run at 6 events this year with the first being at Homestead Miami-Speedway at the end of April (27th-29th), then New Jersey Motorsports Park in May (11th-13th), followed by Mid-Ohio (June 8-9), Watkins Glen International (July 29th-June 1st), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 8th-9th), and finally Lime Rock Park (Sept 28th-29th).  For an amatur series’ first year that location list is pretty damn impressive!

Each B-Spec event will be in a sprint race format (30-45 minute timed races) and the events will not be “connected” as in each race is a stand alone event so there is no need to travel the country to race each one in hopes for a championship (unless you really want to).  Instead GRAND-AM just wants local racers at each track to come out and do their best to win the day.  I have to admit with the schedule they put together combined with the lack of pressure by not having to run a full year for a championship B-Spec is looking pretty damn attractive right now.  I would love to put a car together in time for the Mazda Raceway event!

Press Release:

GRAND-AM To Add B-Spec Races Entry-Level Class Features Exciting Sub-Compact Street Stock Cars

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2011)

Currently, the six sprint races – planned for between 30 and 45 minutes in length – will run in conjunction with GRAND-AM weekends at Homestead-Miami Speedway (April 27-29), New Jersey Motorsports Park (May 11-13), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (June 8-9), Watkins Glen International (June 29-July 1), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 7-9) and Lime Rock Park (Sept. 28-29). Each of those weekends will also feature North America’s most popular forms of sports car competition – the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Regional racers who meet entry requirements are welcome at each event, with a concentration on event victories instead of a national championship. No currently licensed professional drivers will be allowed to participate.

A total of five manufacturers have committed to the new competition, with the following models involved: Mazda 2, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper, and Kia Rio. Additional future manufacturer entries are expected.

One of the fastest-growing segments of the automobile business, B-Spec is among the most affordable classes for entry-level racers, and is expected to enjoy great support from club racers.

Cars will be 4-cylinder models, with a target cost range of $20,000-$30,000.

B-Spec features showroom stock racing cars utilizing stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, racing seat and other safety equipment; and manufacturer-approved suspension components, tires and wheels. Weight and other variables will be used to balance performance among competing manufacturers.

Each manufacturer will develop an approved performance kit which is subject to GRAND-AM approval. These will be the only alterations permitted to the respective cars. All practice sessions will also serve as qualifying to set race grids.

“This new form of GRAND-AM racing will attract new racers and in the process, new fans,” said GRAND-AM Managing Director of Racing Operations Mark Raffauf. “The cars are cool and the competition will be door-to-door, which should be a lot of fun for everyone – a nice fit with what GRAND-AM already has happening at every event.”

– GRAND-AM Road Racing announced today an exciting complement to its two existing sports car series, in the form of a new “B-Spec” level featuring sub-compact cars in six races this season.


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Hype Feature: B-Spec: The Soul Of Racing Returns

Posted on 01.04.12 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

At the root of all car lovers is a race car driver waiting to get out.  At some point all of us have had daydreams of crossing the finish line at the Indy 500 or standing on top of the podium at the Monaco Grand Prix.  Many of us have let our daydreams turn into a full on obsession with motorsports and have latched on to one form of racing or many as serious fanboys/girls.  However, as much fun as it is to watch and follow racing there is nothing quite like doing it yourself.  Yet the path to becoming a race car driver used to be quite hidden and has remained to be very, very expensive.  Thanks to great programs like the Mazdaspeed Motorsports ladder and the Skip Barber Racing Series the route from armature to professional is a bit easier to find.  Yet following that route has become more expensive than ever before.  It is that fact that has many would be racers turning sponsorship acquisition into a second job (the first job is to fund any racing that they already do!).  Anyone who has ever tried to seek out sponsorship dollars for a cause or sports knows that they have to deal with a marketing manager, advertising agency, or sometimes both.  To even have a shot at getting sponsorship money to go racing one has to learn how to put together a sponsorship proposal, know lingo like “impressions”, study returns on investment, become an expert in social network marketing, have “media training”, and so forth.  These days the path to racing winds through the dark woods of marketing so much that someone will become an MBA in marketing before becoming a race car driver.  In the whirlwind of power point presentations, photoshop renderings, and excel spreadsheets it can be easy to forget why you wanted to become a race car driver in the first place.  The heart of racing has become buried in the budgets of marketing departments of non-endemic corporations and is guarded by brand managers who are looking for a “marketable face, name, or story” over talent or passion.  Where does “Joe Racer” who just go when he just wants to race for the joy of racing besides the local go-kart track or Xbox Live?  The answer could be a new race class conceived by a collaboration between Mazda and Honda called “B-Spec”

How can B-Spec be a new entry way into racing?  Well I was invited along with a small group of journalists to Willow Springs Raceway by Mazda and Honda so that they could explain it to us personally.  Here is how they put it:

So there you have it.  The passionate minds from Mazda and Honda want you to be able to get a “B-level” car such as a Mazda2 or Fit and with the purchase of a kit, some elbow grease, safety equipment, and a fabricator to put in a cage you can participate in a race in several sanctioned race series or (likely with sponsorship support) try to run a full season in one particular series of choice.  Although sponsorship might be key go compete for a full season in a B-Spec class, there will be rules and regulations to keep a manufacturer from stepping in and becoming overly dominant.  OEM participation will be limited to simply offering B-Spec kits to customers.  So far there is an impressive list of OEM’s that will be a part of B-Spec but it is promised that none of those OEMs will dump a ton of money into any one team to get an edge over the competition.  There are also rules to keep power as equal as possible among the eligible cars from each OEM.  For example certain cars will have to run intake restrictors to keep their horsepower closer to the rest of the pack.  Of course certain cars may still have advantages or disadvantages due to wheel base, suspension type, etc.  However, no one car will have a disproportionate advantage over the others.  The great thing about B-Spec is that SCCA is on board and making an effort to include B-Spec classes not only in their club racing series but in some of their bigger pro series such as World Challenge and even Rally racing.  There is also a possibility of B-Spec being a part of Grand-Am endurance racing as well.  So, theoretically with one car you could go to a number of different race disciplines without having to make many changes (if any) to your B-Spec car.  The bottom line is not only does B-Spec make real racing accessible again to people who want to race for the love of racing but it also still provides a doorway into the professional ranks for those who still wish to seek that out as well.  B-Spec has the potential to give racing’s soul back to the racers and with OEMs such as Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Nissan, Ford, GM, and most recently MINI race fans will get to see real manufacturer competition in America again.


By the way if all of this is getting you exciting about going racing but you have no experience have no worries.  I drove B-Spec versions of both the Mazda2 and Honda Fit and they are both incredibly easy to drive in race-trim and with an impromptu coaching session from GrandAM driver Charles Espenlaub I was able to pull a decent amount of speed from both chassis.  I would recommend a three-day school at Skip Barber to get race theory and technique down followed by a few SCCA races at the club level and you will have the confidence and skill it takes to try your hand in one of the premiere series. 


As B-Spec unfolds in 2012 we plan to keep the site updates with any news and developments that will arise.  If you are anxious to get your feet wet now I suggest looking for a Mazda2 or Honda Fit and contacting either Mazdaspeed Motorsports or Honda Performance Development as they will likely be first out of the gate to have B-Spec kits available.  I might look into it myself! Stay tuned!  In the meantime you can check out the full SCCA B-Spec rule book by clicking on the link below.


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10 Things That Should Be On Your Gift List #8: Forza Motorsport 4

Posted on 12.13.11 | Andrew Beckford No Comments

If your one of the few gear heads on earth who does not own Forza Motorsport 4 yet then you should definitely add it to your gift list for the holidays this year.  Over the years the Forza Motorsport series has really come into its own and has gone from a pretender to the Gran Turismo throne to the king of the realm.  There is also so much more for players to explore in the latest chapter including Top Gear challenges and the beautiful Autovista mode, which when coupled with Microsoft Kinect lets the player take a virual walk around of a long list of beautiful supercars and other cars that are notable to the car lover culture.  This game is a MUST HAVE if you love cars even just a little bit.  If you do not have an Xbox 360 then go ahead and put one of those on the list too or buy one because it is worth getting the console just for this game!  If you want to know exactly why we love it so much then check out our review.

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