LONG BEACH , Calif. , April 6, 2006 – As the drivers of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship open the 2006 season on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., this weekend, they’ll all have at least one thing in common: every driver will be propelled down Shoreline Drive by a 300-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder Mazda MZR engine prepared by Cosworth Engineering and known as the Mazda-Cosworth YDX. Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) recently announced it had entered into a three-year integrated marketing partnership with the Champ Car Atlantic Championship to provide engines and marketing support to the series.
The series, now dubbed “ Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda,” will compete with the cars of the Champ Car World Series on 12 street circuit and permanent road course race weekends throughout North America. All 2006 events will be broadcast on SPEED. An influx of new teams and the top rising stars in open-wheel racing will add to the excitement of the new-generation Atlantic Championship.
The MZR engine was designed by Mazda, and is produced both in Hiroshima, Japan and Hermosillo, Mexico. It is used in the company’s MAZDA 3 , MAZDA 5 , MAZDA 6 , MAZDASPEED 6 , Tribute and B-Series, as well as the Ford Focus, Escape, Fusion and Ranger.
“Adding the Atlantic series to the Mazda portfolio is the perfect addition to our open-wheel racing ladder: drivers can start in Club Racing in the steel-chassis rotary-powered Formula Mazda, graduate to the next level in the carbon-fiber-tub professional Formula Mazda, and then to the Mazda-powered Atlantic at the top rung,” said Robert Davis, MNAO’s senior vice president, product development and quality, and the man responsible for Mazda’s North American motorsports programs.
Mazda’s racing heritage goes back to the 1968 Marathon de la Route, a grueling 84-hour endurance race, where a Mazda Cosmo 110-S finished in fourth place. Since then, Mazda or Mazda-powered vehicles have visited victory circle in virtually every major race or racing series around the globe, including road-racing, rallying, drag racing, sprint cars, autocross and drifting. Mazda’s greatest motorsport victory was the winning of the 1991 24-Hours of Le Mans, the only Japanese manufacturer in history to ever achieve such a feat, despite the efforts of other larger and better-funded companies.
As the Champ Car organization itself continues to grow in strength and reach for the 2006 season, Mazda’s involvement with the Atlantic series will give the company an opportunity to showcase its full lineup of stylish and spirited street cars to an entirely new audience.
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. Mazda’s motorsport involvement even extends to the nation’s premier road-racing circuit, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Beginning its 33 rd season in 2006, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition, producing past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates, along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger.
Competing in newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, 2006 competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion’s bonus.