If motorsports had been used as the carrot, maybe more of us would have pursued a career in the sciences. Mazda is working to fix that.
To improve America’s standing on the world stage, the National Science Foundation grouped science, technology, engineering and math under a single heading: STEM. Now Mazda is getting involved. Before each race on the IMSA Tudor schedule, Mazda will visit a high school with a simple goal: Show STEM students how science can have some real–and very cool–practical applications.
“At its core, Mazda is an engineering company,” explains John Doonan, director of Mazda’s motorsports program. “Over the years, our engineers have had the courage to dream big–like we did with the rotary engine and like we are doing now with our suite of Skyactiv Technology. With that in mind, Mazda continues to seek to identify the next generation of STEM superstars in order to continue to have an engineering team that is well trained and never loses its creative fire.”
The first school visit took place at DeLand High School, just a few minutes west of Daytona International Speedway. We made the trek and sat in the back row with the cool kids.
Some 600-plus students heard the talk, some of which was led by Mazda factory driver Joel Miller, holder of an engineering degree. Topics covered included aero, car design, modern composites, data acquisition and nutrition for both drivers and crew. The fuel supply for the car–in Mazda’s case, a biofuel derived from a non-food source–was also discussed. Watch for more STEM talks by Mazda as the Tudor season progresses.
Before this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, Orlando’s Classic Mazda again hosted a pre-event party full of food, cars and people. Several Mazda factory drivers as well as motorsports boss John Doonan were present, too. New for this year was a Pinewood Derby race for the local Scouts.
After the Scouts ran, the adults got to race. Doonan and Editorial Director David S. Wallens dusted off cars built some 30 years ago. David’s wife, Michele, also entered a car that she built as a youngster.
We’d like to say that the GRM and Mazda contingents took all the gold medals, but we quickly learned that Pinewood Derby technology has progressed since the late ’70s. We’ll be back next year.
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