History of MAZDASPEED and Mazda Motorsports
MAZDASPEED factory-engineered vehicles, performance parts and accessories, and motorsports programs are the ultimate expression of our Zoom-Zoom and Always the Soul of a Sport Car spirit. MAZDASPEED is the destination for driving enthusiasts who desire to experience Mazda at the highest, most exhilarating level.
MAZDASPEED's own grass-roots racing heritage is as authentic as it gets. It traces its origin to an independent racing team in 1967 under the name "Mazda Sports Corner" at Mazda Auto Tokyo, Japan's largest Mazda dealer. Impressed by performance potential of the Cosmo 110S, the sleek two-seat sports car marked the debut of the first-ever production rotary engine, the team ambitiously set out to establish a Mazda presence at major motorsports events worldwide. At the same time, Mazda was interested in proving the viability of its rotary engine to the world. The two goals came together with the racing team's 1968 international debut, fielding two Cosmos at the Nordshleife, Nuerburgring for the "Marathon de la Route," an incredibly grueling 84-hour endurance event. The surprise came when the little Cosmo took fourth place, a great achievement for a new racing team and a new car with completely new engine technology.
Over the next 15 years, the team of hardcore Mazda racers campaigned across the U.S., Japan and Europe in both endurance and conventional sports car events. After Mazda replaced the Cosmo with the more practical R100, Europeans watched in awe as two of the boxy hatchbacks dogged four Porsche 911s for 24 hours at the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, claiming class wins and fifth and sixth place overall.
As Mazda launched new models, Mazda Sports Corner raced them. After the Cosmos and R100s came racing RX-2s and RX-3s. Everything then jumped up a notch or two when Mazda introduced the first RX-7 in 1978. Here was a car that would succeed in a variety of classes and, most noticeably in the U.S., would achieve an unprecedented 100 wins over the next 12 years in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Series. Since 1975 Mazda has scored 23 class wins at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 13 class wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
In 1983, Mazda Motor Corporation brought the racing team from Tokyo to the company's corporate headquarters in Hiroshima to help drive Mazda's factory racing ambitions, and it was here that the MAZDASPEED name was born. Today Mazda uses the MAZDASPEED brand as well as Mazda Motorsports to showcase our performance products.
Now under the Mazda umbrella, MAZDASPEED continued to receive recognition for its amazing on-track performance and its many victories around the globe. Sights were turned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Privateers had raced Mazdas through the seventies, but MAZDASPEED had decided that it was time to join the fray. The eighties saw some class wins, and then in 1991, the MAZDASPEED team succeeded in doing what no other Japanese auto maker before or since has been able to accomplish: capturing the overall win at the world's most prestigious endurance race.
Fearing a long-standing technical single-brand dominance, FIA outlawed rotary engines after the 1991 Le Mans race. Unable to race Mazda's trademark rotary engine in the world's most prestigious venue, MAZDASPEED began focusing more on the business side of motorsports and started developing and building aftermarket parts and accessories, while continuing grassroots motorsports initiatives.
By this time, it was clear that a disproportionate number of Mazdas were appearing and winning in small owner-driver sports car events all over the world, and that this was where Mazda truly belonged and should focus its competitive efforts.
In 1999, Mazda Motor Corporation took full control of MAZDASPEED and has used its talents to supply racing parts and serve as an umbrella for all of Mazda's motorsports activities. The natural extension of this was to serve the Mazda street enthusiast as well, which MAZDASPEED has done with an expansion of its parts catalog and now with the development of MAZDASPEED-factory-engineered models sold in Mazda showrooms.
It's a bold claim, but one that would be hard to argue against - the MX-5 Miata is THE most important car in all of road-racing. With over 900,000 sold since 1989, the car has become the go-to car for club racers. Spec Miata alone accounts for the single largest class in all of SCCA Club Racing. MX-5's are found in multiple classes for both the SCCA and NASA. On the professional level, the MAZDASPEED Challenge gave way to the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Independent teams race MX-5's in both the Continental Tire Challenge and the Pirelli World Challenge.
Mazda has also created opportunities for drivers and teams in the open-wheel world. Since the original Russell-Mazda formula car in 1984, which evolved into Star Mazda, then Pro Mazda, Mazda has helped develop hundreds of drivers over three decades. Mazda currently powers both the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires as well as the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. On the club racing level, Mazda powers the entire grid of Formula Mazda and Formula Enterprise as well as a number of Formula Atlantic cars. Almost 1/3 of the 2013 Indy 500 field spent time in a Mazda-powered formula car as they moved up the ladder.
The past ten years have seen great successes by Mazda teams at all levels. Mazda has scored wins and championships in the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am GT, Continental Tire ST, and Pirelli World Challenge Touring Cars. On the club racing side, Mazda is the number one player, exceeding the combined efforts of Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. This was achieved during a period of extensive changes in the racing world, and the automotive world at large. Mazda also took a leadership role in the launching of B-Spec to create an affordable platform for newcomers to the sport.
In 2012, Mazda announced an all-new program, a racing version of its latest powertrain, the SKYACTIV-D. Mazda would do what no one had previously done, race a stock-block diesel. The SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engine in the all-new Mazda6 is a true production-based engine. The engine is 51 percent stock by parts count, and 63 percent stock by weight. Mazda chose this path as it is the most honest way to demonstrate the quality, durability, and reliability of Mazda cars.
Debuting at the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the new Mazda program struggled in the first race. By race number two they were up to speed, and by race number four, victory had been achieved. The SpeedSource Mazda team then went on to score seven wins in a row and are heading to Lime Rock with a likely GX manufacturers championship.
Mazda has achieved success on the road and on the track thanks to thousands of people within Mazda and our extended family of dealers, customers and racers. We are a small company who dreams big and never stops challenging.