— Racers rejoice: Mazda and SCRAMP relationship to continue through 2011 —

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

IRVINE, Calif. – Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today announced it has extended its existing contract with the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) and will remain the title sponsor of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for at least five more years. The just-signed contract extends the two organizations’ current relationship through March 2011. The world-famous Monterey, Calif. facility is home to one of the finest natural road-racing courses in the country and has been a mainstay of professional auto and motorcycle racing since 1957. Continue reading “MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA: RACING AHEAD FOR FIVE MORE YEARS”

Mazda announces three-year agreement to become engine provider for Champ Car Atlantic Championship

IRVINE, Calif., Feb 14, 2006 – Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today announced it has entered into a three-year integrated marketing partnership with the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.  Beginning in 2006, all Atlantic cars will be powered by a 300-hp 2.3-liter four-cylinder Mazda MZR engine prepared by Cosworth Engineering, mounted in identical Swift 016.a chassis and riding on Yokohama tires.  .

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 Channel and Mazda will help sponsor both Atlantic and Champ Car race broadcasts as part of the new agreement.  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 MAZDA3, MAZDA5, MAZDA6, MAZDASPEED6, 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.

“We are delighted to welcome Mazda to the Atlantic family,” said Vicki O’Connor, managing director of the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.  “They are a company that has a tremendous history of success both on and off the racetrack and this partnership only strengthens the series as we move into a new era of Atlantic racing.  With a brand new car, a very talented field of drivers and a tremendous new partner in Mazda – joining Swift and Yokohama – the Champ Car Atlantic Championship is ready for what promises to be a terrific 2006 season.”

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.

“Mazda is not only joining the Atlantic series but also the entire Champ Car organization with today’s announcement,” added Steve Johnson, Champ Car president and CEO.  “We are pleased to have a company with Mazda’s racing heritage partner with Champ Car and we look forward to building not only a great racing relationship but also a strong business partnership.”

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.

Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States.  Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.

Beginning its 33rd 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 a 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.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  Please visit, and for more information.

Mazda Spec MX-5 Parts Gallery

We have posted some galleries of the new parts that will be used on the Spec MX-5 in the new for 2006 Mazda Spec MX-5 series.

The remote reservoir shocks and springs were developed by MAZDASPEED and Eibach, and sold through MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development. They are manufactured for MAZDASPEED by Eibach.

The door panel inserts are part of a larger fiberglass and aluminum interior panel package. This was developed by AWR and sold through MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development.

25 Hours of Thunderhill


We never want to wreck a car, however, this race turned out to provide us with good information.

The MX-5 rolled 4 times. Certainly a lot of punishment for any car or cage. All outer body panels and some suspension pieces were thoroughly destroyed.

The passenger compartment was in incredible shape though. The roll cage didn’t even show any signs of deformation.

The driver only suffered a broken thumb and that was due to it being pinned between the vehicle and the ground.

Following, is the story of the weekend as told by driver John Kanavas.

Kanavas & Mazdaspeed’s ’05 “25” …

Laguna Niguel, CA (12.08.05): The Mazdaspeed Motorsports team faced every facet of true endurance racing at this year’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

The Mazdaspeed Motorsports Teams’ effort started out well with both cars sitting in the 1st and 2nd starting position for the E1 class. Charles Espenlaub set the fast time for the #19 car, which sat on pole, while Jim Daniels set the pace for #55, sitting on outside pole. Ken Dobson would start the 19 car with Jeremy Barnes starting the 55. Charles Espenlaub, Johnny Kanavas and Mark Gillies (of Automobile Magazine) were also driving car 19 and Tim Buck, Jim Daniels, Scott Kaluza, and Andy Bornhop (of Road & Track Magazine) were the additional drivers for car 55.

Dobson was off like a bullet and ran strong in his first stint. Passed by some of the other quicker E1 cars, Ken sat a solid third as he brought the car in for Mark Gillies to take over. Gililes held up a good pace, while battling an evil handling car. Around the 4-hour mark, Gillies brought the car in for Johnny Kanavas to take over. The 19 car now sat in 2nd place, while the 55 car was 3rd. Kanavas was also fighting an ill-handling car that began to have a very long brake pedal. “The car was all over the place and the brake pedal would go way down, almost to the floor, it was evil to drive.” reported Kanavas. Exiting Turn-10, a Cobra and one of the factory Honda SI’s came together in Turn-10, right in front of Johnny in the 19 car. Kanavas backed off and slid between the two cars and debris, making it out clean. Despite the car being a handful and the track becoming greasy, Johnny managed to bring the car up to 1st place in class and 7th overall. At about the 6 hour 15 minutes mark, the 55 car came in with a smoking differential. “I first saw the smoke in my mirrors as the lights of the cars behind me lit it up. Then it began to fill the car.” reported Daniels. The team quickly assessed the damage (right axle seal) and replaced the diff. The stop, with fuel, took about 40 minutes. Espenlaub was now on deck for the 19 car. Charles drove a consistent stint, keeping the car in 1st place, handing the car back over to Dobson. Ken ran a double-stint in what he described as “rain-like” conditions. It was about the 7.5 hour mark and Gillies was now back in the car.

During Gillies’ stint in the car, he radioed in to report that the 19 car was stuck in 3rd gear. The car was immediately brought in and the crew went to work. With only on spare transmission, the team quickly attacked the car, replacing the gearbox. Within 15 minutes from the time the 19 car came in, the 55 car reported the same problem with the gearbox. The crew managed to get the 55 car stuck into 5th gear, which allowed the 55 team to continue on, they were now in the 40th position overall. Kanavas prepared to enter the 19 car once the work was completed. The crew gave Johnny 3 new Hankook tires for what would be a double-stint and the car fell back to 27th overall due to the long pit stop. Kanavas settled into a consistent pace and worked his way through traffic. As the first half of the stint ended and Johnny was brought in for fuel, Crew Chief, Rick Weldon asked Kanavas to run the car in 4th gear only in order to conserve the gearbox. “The car felt much better with the new tires. We were able to lay down some good lap times even in conservation mode. These new MX-5’s make tons of torque!” said Kanavas. There would be two caution periods during Johnny’s stint. One was due to the #25 Porsche of Johannes Van Overbeek sitting on its’ roof outside of Turn-13. The second caution was brought out for some stalled cars that were stuck on course. Kanavas eventually finished up his double-stint and brought the car in for brake change and fuel and handed the reins over to Espenlaub. Meanwhile, Jim Daniels’ prepared to hand the 55 car over to Scott Kaluza, which was now stuck in 6th gear. The 55 team just kept plugging away and were now up to 36th place overall.

Nearing the 20-hour mark, Kanavas took over from Gillies, received a new right rear tire, and was now on his way. At about 7:15am, the entire race would change for the #19 Mazdaspeed Motorsports team… While cresting the hill at Turn-5a, Kanavas pulled to the outside (left) of the #14 Factory-Five Cobra. Running side by side into Turn-6, the Cobra made a surprise turn to the left, directly in front of the 19 car. The two cars made immediate contact throwing both cars into the air. The 19 car rolled four times, while the Cobra went over three times. The impacts were hard and both cars were destroyed. Unfortunately for Kanavas, his left hand was pinned under the roll bar as the car stopped rolling. “I was stuck in the car and couldn’t move. All I could see was some of our photographers nearby and waved to them frantically for help. Thankfully, they came over and rocked the car off my hand.” reported Kanavas. The rescue crew eventually arrived and removed Johnny from the car. Kanavas immediately went to the ground as he was short of breath and very sore. The two drivers met in the ambulance and were both a bit shaken. The Cobra was making a left turn for an access road on the left side of the track as he was out of fuel and never saw the Mazda beside him. Kanavas continues, “I was very surprised to see the Cobra turn left. The initial impact was hard and I didn’t realize I was airborne until the first landing. The next few landings were faster and hard. It was not fun.” Both drivers were taken to the medical center at the track. Spencer Sharp, driver of the Cobra was released, while Kanavas was sent to hospital for x-rays. Johnny suffered only a broken thumb and sore neck. The 19 car ended up 36th overall and 8th in class.

The 55 car was still going strong, running around in 6th gear. Road & Track Magazine’s, Andy Bornhop, brought the dark gray MX-5 Miata home to the checker, finishing 25th overall and 6th in class.

Kanavas Kompetition thanks Mazda, Protomotive, Hankook, Road & Track Magazine, Automobile Magazine, AWR,, and the entire Mazdaspeed 25-hour crew for putting this effort together.

or official results, photos and more, visit:

For aftermath photos of the crash, visit: MX-5 photos For Photos of the MX-5 after it’s return see gallery two.

For action captured live from the event, check out the KK blog at:


MX-5 Cup Concept
MX-5 Cup Concept

On March 23rd 2005, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) unveiled the next generation of Spec Miata at the New York International Auto Show.

“With the all-new 2006 Mazda MX-5 as a starting point, it was easy for us to create the fastest, best handling and most comprehensively prepared Spec Miata yet,” said Steve Sanders, Manager, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development. “The combination of a tuned suspension, a willing engine and consistent braking means Miatas have always made terrific racecars. With more grip, more power and more stopping ability, the new MX-5 is the perfect starting point to be the very best Miata racecar yet.” Continue reading “2006 RACE READY MAZDA MX-5”