Mazda vehicles are known for reasonable prices and outstanding handling. The company's long-standing "Zoom-Zoom" tagline, even for SUVs, shows that Mazda injects everything they make (except the B-Series) with a bit of race-car spirit. To help breed new Miata and RX-8 drivers, Mazda has decided to start with youngsters by throwing major dollars into karting.
At Sebring, Mazda announced a financial commitment of over $100,000 for prize money and operating costs, plus discounts on Mazda products for Kart racers in the sponsored competitions. Partnership agreements were signed with multiple sanctioning bodies and events, giving Mazda a major presence where young automotive enthusiasts grow on trees. The automaker is already involved in SCCA racing with sponsorships and big-dollar prizes for Mazda racers. Adding karting into the mix further increases Mazda's motorsports presence.
These latest moves demonstrate that the folks in Hiroshima are dead serious when it comes to exposing even more younger people to the Mazda brand. This cultivates potential new customers and ingrains them with a sense of brand loyalty at an early on. You can read the entire press release after the jump.
MAZDA ANNOUNCES FIRST-IN-INDUSTRY KARTING PARTNERSHIPS
-- Automaker commits over $100,000 to grassroots support --
March 16, 2007 ( Sebring, FL). Mazda North American Operations used the annual sportscar racing extravaganza known as Sebring to announce the signing of multi-year contracts with the leading kart racing organizations in the U.S.A. These commitments further expand Mazda's leadership in grassroots road-racing, and represent the largest ever commitment to karting from an automaker.
Mazda has signed partnership agreements with multiple sanctioning bodies and events, and will be highly involved with the following:
World Karting Association (WKA)
Champ Car Rotax Kart Challenge
Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by IndyCar
Superkarts! USA (SKUSA)
Newcastle Motorsport Park ( Indiana)
Rock Island Grand Prix (the largest professional kart street race in the world)
Mazda's support will consist of both traditional sponsorship funding towards prize money and operating costs, as well as unique benefits such as business-partner pricing on new Mazda vehicles for kart racers who belong to those organizations.
Over the past decade, Mazda has become the brand of choice for road-racers across North America. Over 9,000 grassroots racers compete in various classes with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Now, kids still years away from their driver's license, can start their professional motorsports career in the Mazda family.
"We are committed to developing the next generation of racers with a ladder system that provides drivers with Mazda and Mazda-powered open and closed-wheel cars throughout their careers," said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, and the man responsible for Mazda's North American motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner. "With this karting initiative, we can now connect with an even larger and younger base of enthusiasts. Many Formula 1 and Indy 500 champions have started their careers in karting – kids may race, but it is not child's play."
Now, a driver can begin in karts and progress upwards through the Skip Barber Race Series, Club Racing Formula Mazda, professional Star Mazda, and finally to Formula Atlantic, all with Mazda.
A great example is B-K Motorsports' driver Jamie Bach who races in the American Le Mans Series. Jamie noted that "What Mazda has been able to announce in motorsports recently is amazing. Today's announcement about their new karting involvement is just another example of something no other car company has ever done for racers. My sister Becky and I really enjoyed our time racing in the WKA. I started when I was nine and Becky started when she was seven. Then I had the chance to go on to Skip Barber Racing School...then the standard Formula Mazda...and next the pro Formula Mazda. And now, Mazda's American Le Mans LMP 2 program... unbelievable."
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you'll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the fastest growing road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCA's Spec Miata class, with nearly 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.
Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.