Mazda Loves the $2016 Challenge

By Ed Higginbotham
Sep 1, 2016 | Mazda

This morning Mazda sent out a press release detailing their involvement in the season-end championships, and it includes our Grassroots Motorsports $2016 Challenge Driven by General Tire and sponsored by CRC Industries and Miller Electric. Scroll down for the full release.

IRVINE, Calif. (September 1, 2016) – The heart and soul of Mazda Motorsports is in grassroots club racing and September kicks off the prime season for competition. While most drivers race for the simple enjoyment of competition and a possible trophy, some have their eyes set on a professional career, including the coveted $100,000 Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24) Scholarship.

Each fall, racers with both the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) gather up for their signature events, with Mazda typically topping the entry lists.

John Doonan, director of motorsports, Mazda North American Operations, said, “Mazda understands that professional racing would not exist without a healthy club racing scene as the base. Our mission within Mazda Motorsports is to support the thousands of Mazda racers who have chosen our cars to race. They are the greatest ambassadors we could ever want as they understand better than anyone that driving matters.”

Mazda Motorsports Club Racing Facts:
· Mazda Motorsports has more grassroots road racers than any other car company. Per the most recent SCCA records, 55 percent of SCCA club competitors race a Mazda.
· The single biggest class of racing is Spec Miata with over 3,000 cars having been built.
· Mazda continues to pay out more contingency prize money to SCCA and NASA racers than any other car company. Details on the program can be found at
· Mazda is showcasing a few club racers in a video titled “The Driver In All Of Us” being shown in cinemas nationwide.
· The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Cup car was designed to be a multi-purpose race car. In addition to the professional Battery Tender MX-5 Cup, the cars are being raced with both the SCCA and NASA in local club races from coast-to-coast.

Key Championship Events:

What: Tire Rack SCCA Solo Nationals Presented by Garmin VIRB
When: September 4-9
Where: Lincoln Airpark in Lincoln, Nebraska
Who: Over 1,000 competitors typically compete.
How/Why: Solo competition has been the gateway to road racing for scores of Mazda racers. This will be the first year the latest generation Mazda MX-5 will be eligible to compete.
What: SCCA National Championship Runoffs Presented by Garmin VIRB
When: September 19-25
Where: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Mansfield, Ohio
Who: More than 600 entries in 27 different classes
How/Why: For over 50 years, the biggest gathering in club racing is the SCCA Runoffs. For the past few years, the biggest race has been Spec Miata. Spec Miata set the all-time Runoff record with 67 starters in 2013, breaking the previous record, also set by Spec Miata. Expect to see multiple Mazda-powered champions earning a right to compete in the 2016 Mazda Road to 24 Shootout.

What: NASA Eastern States Championship
When: September 23-25
Where: Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York
Who: Top NASA racers from the Eastern U.S.
How/Why: This will be the first visit to the Watkins Glen track for the NASA Championships. The largest class is expected to be Spec Miata with over 60 entries.

What: SCCA RallyCross National Championship
When: September 29 – October 2
Where: National Balloon Classic in Indianola, Indiana
Who: Racers who feel no need for pavement to enjoy their sport.
How/Why: This is an off-road version of the SCCA Solo Nationals. Mazda racers will be competing in a variety of classes.

What: Grassroots Motorsports $2016 Challenge Driven by General Tire and sponsored by CRC Industries and Miller Electric
When: September 29 – October 1 Where: Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida
Who: A wide variety of racers who enjoy the technical challenges of racing.
How/Why: A true DIY “Run-What-Ya-Brung” event with a $2,016 cost cap. This is as much an engineering challenge as it is a race. Each year, many of the top teams choose Mazda cars as the basis for their creations.

What: NASA Western States Championship
When: October 13-16
Where: Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California
Who: Top NASA racers from the Eastern U.S.
How/Why: The West Coast NASA racers will be gathering at Buttonwillow Raceway in the Hi-Desert of Southern California.

What: Mazda Road to 24 Shootout
When: October 28-29
Where: Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds in Greenville, South Carolina
Who: A very short list of the most promising drivers looking to move up to a professional sports car racing career.
How/Why: The biggest prize in all of club racing for road racers is a full season in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires. This is a $100,000, winner-take-all, Scholarship. The 2015 winner was Glenn McGee.

About MX-5 Cup The MX-5 Cup race cars start as complete MX-5 road cars from the Mazda Hiroshima, Japan factory before being transported to engineering development partner Long Road Racing in Statesville, North Carolina where they are produced into a race car. The process includes disassembly of the production car, welding and paint of a full roll cage and interior, and assembly of the race car, adding more than 250 motorsports-specific parts. Other components of the car, including the Mazda SKYACTIV 2.0 liter engine are sealed to ensure even competition and a cost-effective platform.

The Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires is the signature spec series for the Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24), the sports car counterpart to the Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI). On both paths, Mazda-powered champions earn a Mazda scholarship to advance their career. The MX-5 Cup champion earns a $200,000 scholarship.

Information on the car is online at

About Mazda Motorsports Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is also the title sponsor of the renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.

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View comments on the GRM forums
Ovid_and_Flem Reader
9/1/16 4:25 p.m.

Wow...factory support for Mazda challenge builds. How about a challenge rules modification requirING Miata based challenge builds to carry mandatory 750 pounds of ballast?

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
9/1/16 7:57 p.m.

I think its time to get Infiniti on the phone!

Rick Goolsby
Rick Goolsby Events Manager
9/2/16 7:09 a.m.

Mazda has always been such a great supporter of the magazine and a great partner as well. We are actually having THE Mazda PR representative coming to the Challenge on Saturday. Please make him feel welcomed!

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/2/16 9:25 a.m.

Mazda rocks----- they are the only car company that has continuously supported our scene over the years, and continue to do so. The execs at the top are enthusiasts, and it shows in their product line.

My Dad actually just sold his 04 Mini Cooper S and bought a Mazda 6 (manual). He's in his 70's now and wanted something with a more compliant ride than the Cooper. Even though it's an inexpensive sedan, it's still fun to drive----- something all Mazdas have in common. From the brilliant ND Miata (and it is brilliant if you haven't driven one yet) to the CX-9, all Mazdas are engaging to drive.

Kudos to them---- they understand why we love cars, and they continue to make cars aimed at us.

92dxman SuperDork
9/2/16 1:26 p.m.

Joe hit the nail right on the head why I just bought a CX-5 instead of something else. Mazda gets it and they make vehicles that are fun to drive

failboat UberDork
9/2/16 1:43 p.m.

<3 my mazda5. I wish/hope they make a larger minivan. What am I going to do when I outgrow this one? (I refuse to get an SUV)

92dxman SuperDork
9/2/16 1:46 p.m.

Buy a newer Mazda 5 than the one you have

ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/2/16 1:48 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: My Dad actually just sold his 04 Mini Cooper S and bought a Mazda 6 (manual). He's in his 70's now and wanted something with a more compliant ride than the Cooper. Even though it's an inexpensive sedan, it's still fun to drive----- something all Mazdas have in common.

My wife made almost the same transition - 05 R53 to '14 Maz6, but she opted for the auto. It was the only car in the segment that didn't make us feel like we we asleep at the wheel after driving a Cooper S every day. She still says it's fun enough that she doesn't miss the Cooper. At least not often.

92dxman SuperDork
9/2/16 1:57 p.m.

Mrs. DX was pretty close to buying a newer MZ6 before getting her Jetta. She was really impressed by the car even just with riding in the back seat.

dherr New Reader
9/2/16 2:39 p.m.

We seriously compared the Mazda6 to the competition and was going to purchase one based on the "fun to drive" factor. But it was end of the model year and we could get over $8k knocked off of a VW CC with the excellent 2.0 turbo motor and DSG, so the cars were the same price with all the toys. Bought the CC, no regrets, but I still love the 6 when I see them on the road.

I redeemed myself with my NC MX5 purchase last year, absolutely love it!

Great to see Mazda supporting the Challenge. I can't be there this year, but the car is 99% ready and once I recover from knee surgery, I will be bringing it again, hopefully next year.

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