Head out to any open track day and it's likely that you'll find more Mazda vehicles making the rounds on the tarmac than almost any other make. It's not rare to find out that at least one of the instructors doing a ride-along campaigns a Spec Miata, and during our last event, the same guy that flogged his caged MX-5 around the course (and was kind enough to help us figure out turn six) got into a Mazdaspeed3 for the long trek home from Thunderhill.
Mazdas currently account for around half the cars running during SCCA events, something that seems to be better for the brand than throwing big money at NASCAR or F1 in pursuit of serious performance credibility. And it's not just good for perception. Mazda sold $6.9 million in parts to grassroots teams last year and is expected to increase that amount to $7.8 million this year. While that's a small percentage of the overall Mazdaspeed sales for the year (MS products account for around $130 million total), it's obvious that Mazda has set the pace for any other automaker that wants to get in on the ground floor of racing.
Mazda's success is primarily based around its expansive lineup of products – everything from basic bolt-ons to ceramic apex seals for rotary engines –plus, SCCA-licensed racers can buy cars at discount, hit up the dealer for parts and if they forgot something come race day, there's a good chance that Mazdaspeed has a trailer at the event. The old adage of "race Sunday, sell Monday" holds less value today than it has in the past, but Mazda could redefine the saying to "Sell (parts) Friday, race hard Sunday."