Mazda North America has announced that it has inked a three-year deal with the Champ Car open-wheel racing series to power the new-generation Swift 016.a cars (shown above) in Champ Car's Formula Atlantic support series.

While Honda (in the Indy Racing League) and Toyota (NASCAR) are investing at the top levels of North American racing, Mazda has been quietly building its racing rep at the grassroots level, starting with rotary-powered open-wheeled club racers and steadily moving up the ladder of sports car, sedan and open-wheel race series. By providing engines to the revitalized Atlantic series, Mazda is now only one rung below the top levels of open-wheel racing in the U.S.

The new-generation Atlantics will be powered exclusively by a 300 hp, normally-aspirated version of Mazda's 2.3-liter four-cylinder MZR engine, developed by Cosworth Engineering. The base 2.3-liter engine is used in the Mazda3, Mazda5, Mazda6, MazdaSpeed6 and the upcoming MazdaSpeed3. (I wonder if we'll see Cosworth versions appear in a few Mazda sedans? Hmmm.)

The new Atlantic series already has 26 confirmed entries, with more likely in the coming weeks. Full grids and standing starts (at selected tracks) should make for exciting racing!

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