Yesterday afternoon Mazda hosted a gaggle of media for their sixth annual motorsports pre-season lunch in which they let the world know how their racing division Mazdaspeed is doing and what they have in store for the year. This year the location chosen for the event was the Crevier Classic Cars collection and club house in Costa Mesa, CA which is host to rows and rows of valuable rare classic cars as well as a few high-dollar modern exotics (more on that in a later post). The meeting was a few hours long so I will just hit all the major news points covered during the conference.
Mazdaspeed Ladder class of 2012
As the meeting got underway the first order of business was introducing the 2012 class of Mazdaspeed Motorsports development ladder graduates. If you are not aware of it, Mazda has created one of the most well defined and most utilized path from armature racing to professional motorsports. Every year they help tons of drivers make it up the ranks from Go-Karting all the way up to the Indy Car Series through the “Mazda Road To Indy” program. 2012 is the year of the “Mazda Seven” as Scott Anderson (Skip Barber Champion), Michael Cooper (MX-5 Cup Champion), Tristan DeGrand (Skip Barber Shootout Champion), Danilo Estrella (Skip Barber Shootout Champion), Elliott Skeer (Club Racer Shootout Champion), Petri Suvanto (USF2000 Champion), and Tristan Vautier (Star Mazda Champion) were introduced as the latest drivers to progress up the Mazdaspeed Motorsports ladder and continue on the Road to Indy program. After this years class was introduced it was announced that 17 year old Elliott Skeer will be joining the CJ Wilson racing team for a full season of MX-5 cup this year.
Mazda racing comes back to television
We also got late breaking news that Mazda has just signed a deal with Discovery to bring television broadcast of their MX-5 cup series, Star Mazda Series, and USF2000 to Discovery’s “Velocity” channel as part of the “Mazda Motorsports Hour”. The show is set to debut in April and the first season will consist of 24 one-hour episodes with Rick Benjamin, Randy Pobst, and James “Hinchtown” Hinchcliffe providing commentary.
B-Spec racing updates
Mazda announced that their B-Spec racing kit is now available and announced an MSRP of $2575 which makes their kit the least expensive offered so far. It was also announced that as of now there are four racing series adopting the B-Spec class for 2012: Pirelli World Challenge (3 weekends x 3 races), GRAND-AM (6 races), Canadian Touring Car Championship (full season), and SCCA Club racing. It was also hinted that winners of B-spec races will be eligible for Mazdaspeed shootout events for a shot at a spot on the Mazdaspeed development ladder.
There you have it! It looks like 2012 will be a big year for Mazdaspeed and for Mazda fans as well. I am looking forward to seeing how things shake out for the new ladder drivers, tuning in to the Mazda motorsports hour, and more developments on B-spec.