Miller: 100 Minutes at Home

By Joel Miller - April 20, 2017

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

The Grand Prix of Long Beach has always been a special event for me because it’s my home race. I grew up within an hour drive and still call Southern California home.

My first time racing at the circuit was in Indy Lights during the 2010 season. I experienced mixed results but the cool part was how the deal came together.

It was a late call-up from team owner Dan Andersen, who I drove for the year prior in Pro Mazda. Some funding was needed to do the event but after two days of calling everyone I knew within the Long Beach area, we had enough funds to do the race.

It really was a community effort that weekend. After many years of watching I finally got my first opportunity to race on the streets of Long Beach and get a feeling for the place! Racing there is similar to flying fighter jets through a canyon — only there’s 30 other fighter jets along with you!

Getting Round 3 Underway

The third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at the Grand Prix of Long Beach was the shortest race of the season.

We went from our two longest races at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring to only 100 minutes at Long Beach. This is where the season really starts with the standard driver pairings in a sprint-race format, plus no margin of error due to the shorter race length.

Two-Hour Practice on Green Track

The weekend started out with the early morning practice session at 7:40 a.m. on Friday. This practice session was very dynamic because the track changes dramatically over the course of the morning.

Prior to the race, drift cars compete in the final complex of corners and lay down all kinds of rubber compounds at Turns 9–11. Our Mazda RT24-P is fitted with Continental Tire rubber, a different compound than the drift rubber laid on the ground. Each year, the feeling when driving in this section is different due to how the rubber compounds react with each other. Sometimes it could be slick and other times it offers extra grip.

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

The other side of the circuit hasn’t seen race cars since last year’s event, so early in the weekend, it’s very slick. With all of this in mind, the most important time to be on track is during the final 30 minutes of that morning session when the track becomes more consistent and relevant to how it’ll be for the remainder of the weekend.

Unfortunately for us in the No. 70 Mazda, we experienced a starter motor issue mid-session, causing us to lose practice time. Once the car was fixed, only five minutes remained in the session.

The good part of having a two-car team is being able to pull information from the sister car. Since we missed the most important time of the morning session, we basically copied what the No. 55 car learned from its track time and looked forward to the afternoon qualifying session.

Traffic Crowds Long Beach Streets During Qualifying

Tom Long is my full-season teammate and he’ll be starting the sprint races. (The rules state that the driver who qualifies the car must start the race.) Qualifying requires getting your best lap when the tires are optimal.

Unfortunately, Tom caught traffic on two fast laps and we had to settle for the seventh starting position. We were bummed for sure, but knew we could still have a good result in the race.

Race Day in SoCal

Saturday arrived with cool temperatures and sunny skies — a perfect day for a race at Long Beach! Tom got a good start and quickly moved into sixth, then into fifth. Before you knew it, we were running third, right behind our sister car in second!

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Tom had an awesome start to the race and our car was looking good. The team managed the caution periods well — which is great because there were a lot of them!

Around the halfway mark, a GT car spun on the exit of Turn 11, nearly blocking the track. Both Mazdas had to come to a complete stop to get around the blocked hairpin corner. Soon, the rest of the Prototype field was on them and, in the confusion, the No. 70 lost a position before the full-course caution was displayed.

Now, it was time to make the only pit stop of the race to fill up with fuel, take four tires and make a driver change. I was really looking forward to getting in this race!

Trouble on Pit Lane

Both Mazdas pitted under the yellow. Once Tom climbed out, I climbed in and was getting buckled in. When my radio was connected, I heard my race engineer say, “problem with the air jack, leave the tires, do fuel only.”

The stop ran a bit long and I launched the car but something felt wrong straight away. The right rear tire was not tight. I stopped the car and the crew pulled it back to the box to reattach the tire.

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Long story short, during the first stint of the race, Tom had been hit in the back, compromising the air jack system. This led to the breakdown during the pit stop which caused the No. 70 car to go a lap down. In a 100-minute race, going a lap down is extremely detrimental to your chances at a good result!

Takeaways, From Long Beach to Texas

We did end up finishing the race, positioned sixth in the Prototype class.

There were some positives to take away from the weekend. Our car had good race pace and, as a team, we earned our best finish with a third-place overall for the 55 car.

Personally, I was very disappointed because a good result was in our hands. We look forward as a team to the next round in Texas at Circuit of The Americas.

Developing Pro Mazda’s Future

Since the Long Beach weekend, I have been doing a fair bit of driving in the new Tatuus PM-18 chassis for the Mazda Road to Indy. I was the first to drive what will be the new car for the Pro Mazda category in 2018.

It shares a common chassis with the USF2000 car, but has an additional 100 horsepower and much ore downforce due to a full floor and larger wings. Another attribute is larger tires, making for increased mechanical grip.

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

 

We tested the car at Autobahn County Club in Joilet, Illinois before completing a two-day test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Mansfield, Ohio. This has been a fun project to work on with the Andersen Promotions staff, project manager Scott Elkins, Steve Knapp from Elite Engines and the whole Tatuus factory in Italy.

The car will close the gap to Indy Lights as it is much faster in a straight line and has stronger cornering capability than the current Pro Mazda machine. Driving the car is fantastic and brings me back to my Pro Mazda open-wheel days.

EKN One-on-One: Joel Miller – Mazda Prototype Driver ‘How bad do you want it’ keeps him pushing every day to be the best on and off the track

JANUARY 25, 2016 BY DAVID COLE - ekartingnews.com

(Photo: Mazda USA)

(Photo: Mazda USA)

 

The dream of nearly every young karter today is to one day become a professional race car driver. Many set the bar high with Formula One as the ultimate goal, while others feel that IndyCar or NASCAR could be on their future path. No matter the direction, racing costs money, especially when talking about trying to advance up the motorsports ladder. Throughout the years, we have watched drivers make their way from karting and into the spotlight of the major professional motorsport ranks.

Joel became one of the few Americans to be added as a factory Tony Kart driver

Joel became one of the few Americans to be added as a factory Tony Kart driver

In 2010, the Mazda Road to Indy program was established to help support young drivers graduate through the lower junior open wheel ranks (USF2000 and Pro Mazda) with the goal of helping them reach the Indy Lights program and then, of course, the IndyCar Series. Prior to the launch of this program, in the 2000s, the Stars of Karting series formed a partnership with the Skip Barber Racing School, providing a scholarship program to help elevate a top karter into the open wheel ranks each year. Among those few honorees was California native Joel Miller, who excelled as a kart racer in the shifter, TaG and ICA categories.

The 27-year-old began earning victories and championships in karting at the age of 10 in southern California. Miller’s first major victory came at the 1999 SKUSA SuperNationals in the 60cc Novice cadet shifter class, and then he added another SuperNats victory eight years later in 2007 (TaG Senior). His success continued, especially in International Kart Federation competition, as a regular frontrunner at regional and Grand National events before trying his hand at open wheel racing. In 2004, Miller came back to karting full time and would later join the Tony Kart USA operation to compete in the Stars of Karting ICA division. Joel finished vice-champion in 2005 to a soon-to-be Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler (2007 Indianapolis 500). The following year, Miller won five of the 14 races on the split national tour, contesting both East and West divisions, ending with a massive victory at the National Finals to claim the championship. Along with the title, Joel used the accompanying scholarship to move on to the Skip Barber National series.

The 2007 season was another successful run for the focused Californian, going on to earn the Skip Barber National title on the strength of five victories. The competition was stout that season, as Miller beat out drivers with names such as Newgarden, Daly, Taylor, Orsolon, McAleer and Gore. He would also be named to the Team USA Scholarship program to compete in the UK that fall.  With the Skip Barber championship, Mazda Motorsports provided Joel with a budget to race full-time in the Star Mazda Championship (now the Pro Mazda Championship) for 2008. Racing with JDC MotorSports, Miller claimed the vice-champion position behind John Edwards to close out the year, earning one victory in addition to six podium finishes on the 12-race schedule. He returned with the team the following year, ending up fifth in the standings.

The funding was never there to put together a full season in Indy Lights after some one-off events in 2010 and 2011. An opportunity in sportscars arose in 2012, and his skill set blossomed in the tin-top cars. By 2013, Mazda asked Miller to become a factory driver with SpeedSource and aid in the development of their SKYACTIV Diesel motorsports program in GrandAm. Joel finished second in the GX driver standings that year, finished seventh in the PC standings in 2014, and seventh last year in Prototype. This year, Miller is set to driver the #70 Mazda Motorsports machine in the entire WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which includes the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend.

We tracked down the former national karting champion to discuss his years in karting, making the transition to cars and his perspective of what young drivers today should focus on.

eKartingNews.com: How were you introduced to karting as a kid?

A Skip Barber National Series championship in 2007 helped to move Miller further up in the motorsports ladder with Mazda

A Skip Barber National Series championship in 2007 helped to move Miller further up in the motorsports ladder with Mazda

Joel Miller: It was during the holiday season, actually. When I was six-years-old, my grandpa had just returned from a trip to Phoenix, Arizona where he bought me a PCR kart. He brought the kart to my house and the neighborhood soon heard the sound of a Junior Sportsman Yamaha racing up and down the driveway.

My first days at the track were split between Adams in Riverside and in Perris, CA. My uncles Mike and Mark Burns both raced karts when they were younger and when I came of age, my grandpa wanted to start back up in karting, this time with me and my cousin Justin Burns. Ever since I was old enough to see over the dashboard while sitting on his lap, I was driving something at his ranch. Tractors, trucks, you name it. Seeing a gas and brake pedal plus steering wheel was not so foreign the first time I sat in the kart.

Karting started as something fun to do, but racing soon followed. I was not allowed to race until I could hold my own on the track and each day we drove home from the track we talked about what should have been better and not about the things that went well. Whatever happened during the day, it was never good enough. Also, when we started racing at the club level, he always made me start at the back. Whether it was a pea-pick format or qualifying, I had to start every heat race and main at the back of the grid during my early years of racing. His thought was ‘this is how you learn how to pass and work your way through traffic’.

Honestly, looking back at this process, it was one of the best things he could have done for me because it taught so many valuable traits. My dad took things over prior to the 1998 season and we started racing everything we could physically drive to. We would race Saturday night at Adams and then drive to Willow Springs or Perris to run the Sunday race on the same weekend. As long as I kept my grades up, we would keep racing (laughing).

On the rare weekends, when there was not a race we would find a track to practice at and at the end of each day, the mandatory 20-lap session to simulate the main finished off the day. In the early days of karting, we never had any hired help. My dad would work late into the weeknights getting the karts ready for the weekend while I did homework. We learned some tricks from various people in the paddock, but our general rule was if the kart was straight and everything was kept as close to standard as possible then we could get the job done at the track. I was a ‘keep it simple, stupid’ kind of thought process.

On the big weekends, such as IKF events, we would run three classes and thus would have two or three karts. Since it was only my family at the track, my dad would work on the kart and my mom would take me to the grid. My dad would show up in time to start the kart and watch the session or race. I learned the simple things about putting tires on, setting the chain tension, and generic ‘how to turn a wrench’ at an early age, which helped in understanding how things worked. We were also fortunate enough to meet some good people along the way that provided good input such as Jon Targett, who I am happy to say I am still friends with. Karting is definitely the purest form of the sport and I’m glad it was learned the way we did.

EKN: What was your favorite moment during your karting years?

Miller celebrating his 1999 SuperNationals victory in style

Miller celebrating his 1999 SuperNationals victory in style

 

JM: My absolute favorite moment during my karting years has to be winning the ICA North American Championship. Coming up through karting, I always looked up to the drivers who ran direct drive, namely those who ran Formula A. Also, the Tony Kart team was the manufacturer that was always the team to beat, so obviously from a young age I dreamed of driving for them. In 2006, everything came together and I was able to win the championship in ICA running for the team I always dreamed of driving for.

EKN: What is your proudest achievement in karting?

JM: My proudest moment would honestly be a tie between winning the ICA Championship or the IKF Nationals and getting the Duffy. This was when the Duffy still meant something as well. Those two trophies sit side-by-side at my parents’ house currently. Throughout my time spent in Jr. 1 and Juniors, we got so many second place finishes at the Nationals after leading the whole race, only to lose it on the last lap, so finally winning a Duffy has always stuck in my mind. The funny thing is, I can remember crossing the finish line for the Nationals like it was yesterday and the same feeling I experienced then was the same feeling when we won the ICA Championship, everything went quiet. That is why these two would be tie.

EKN: When you reached the pinnacle of karting, what was your outlook moving forward? You attempted to move up the open wheel ranks. Was driving in IndyCar the ultimate goal?

JM: I actually tried to move out of karting in 2003 but ran out of money real fast (laughing), so I went back to karting to win the only thing that would get me into cars with someone else covering the budget. At the time, it was the Skip Barber Scholarship, and nothing else mattered. My goal was always to move up the ladder with the focus being IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. Open wheel competition, IndyCar, and the Indy 500 will always be on my mind because that is what I grew up with. However, I have found a new home and a new challenge with sports cars in endurance racing, so you can say the new goal is Le Mans and winning the championship here in the United States with Mazda in IMSA.

EKN: Your path with Mazda made a shift, moving over to the sports cars with them. What was your first impression of piloting these cars compared to the open wheel machines?

JM: The good thing was they still had four wheels and a steering wheel (laughing). In all seriousness, the driving side was a small adjustment because its a race car, as a driver you find its limits, and carry on as normal. The biggest adjustment was the mental side of things. Sharing the car with a co-driver was something I had to get used to because any adjustments had to fit both drivers’ preference.

On the driving side, you had to learn to think big picture, when to take risk while passing other class cars, fuel conservation, and the biggest part of all was working with a big team that represents a car manufacturer. It is very easy to think on the ‘ground level’, lets say, but when switching over, I had to learn how to think on a much higher level. A level where you have to understand the knock-on effects of anything you say or do.

Seth Nash was Miller’s right-hand man during his championship run in 2006

Seth Nash was Miller’s right-hand man during his championship run in 2006

In open wheel, when you get down to business at the race rack, it is all about making everything right for YOUto do your job. In sports cars, it is all about the CAR and the TEAM with the drivers being an integral part of the system. In open wheel, you may have time to get the car just perfect for you, but in sports cars, you have three to five laps before the race to get comfortable and that is it. In sports ca,rs you must compromise, understand that what you have is what you are going to get so make the most of it, and then figure out how to get it to the front. This, of course, could occur sometimes in open wheel but for comparison, there are times in the sports car world where a driver must remain very fluid with the situation.

EKN: Is there anything you can take from driving a kart to piloting a sports car?

JM: Karting is the truest form of the sport, hands down. Karting supplies the foundation, racecraft and pure driving for what it takes to move up the ladder system, well before they had those plastic bumpers that protect the rear wheels and act like a target. Those would be the direct links between sports cars and karting. In sports cars, you still have those laps when you get to push flat out so you have to be ready to maximize those opportunities. At that point, you tap into what you learn in your karting years.

EKN: Your involvement with Mazda goes beyond the racetrack with their Racing Accelerates Creative Education (R.A.C.E.) program. Tell us what that involves.

JM: The R.A.C.E. program focuses on increasing the STEM awareness in high schools. STEM stands for ‘Science Technology Engineering and Math’. One of our big messages reflects an interesting stat: for every engineer who retires from the industry, we require three new engineers to carry the workload, thus showing the need for new engineers. The program goes to local high schools in the areas we race and has presented to 25,000+ students so far. With my Mechanical Engineering degree, I can speak to the students and show them that the foundation they are learning in high school is important and how it can pay off later in life. We have some interactive slides that show a simple math problem from the real racing world using equations they learned in high school.

Over 50 motorsport-related job positions are represented in our presentation that embody the STEM disciplines from the basic to complex. This shows that someone can get involved in motorsport using what they have learned at a variety of levels. Some people think they may not be able to do something but, with some dedication to the STEM disciplines, they could be involved in the cool environment of motorsports or at some other unique workplace. We use motorsport as the teaching tool during the presentation, maybe we will make a few new fans, but hopefully we will inspire the next generation of STEM stars.

EKN: As mentioned, you have a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California Riverside. When did you decide toward that path? What are your plans for the future with that education, is teaching in the future after your time with the R.A.C.E. program or are you looking to continue working in motorsports after you hang up your helmet?

Miller and his ties with Mazda have remained strong since winning the scholarship in 2006

Miller and his ties with Mazda have remained strong since winning the scholarship in 2006

 

JM: First of all, there will be no hanging up of the helmet in the immediate future. There are races, championships, and titles that need to be won! Plus, I am only 27. I have always been interested in how things were built. When I was young, I asked my mom who was responsible for designing the looks and mechanical aspects of race cars and she told me mechanical engineers. From that day on, I had my thoughts directed to that form of education. Not because I wanted to build race cars myself, but to better understand them.

Having the mechanical engineering degree is something only a very select few drivers have with them. Drivers may have a business or some form of associates degree which are good in there own right but they are not a mechanical engineering degree. I use my degree to better speak with the engineers on our team, converse with them on a higher level – an engineering level, and this allows us a unique way to ultimately reach our conclusion faster. This is something of value that I have that other drivers do not. In this day and age, there are many quick drivers so you have to set yourself apart from the rest. Having the mechanical engineering degree is just one of those areas. Also, having a college education shows that you have been through the motions of figuring out problems, standing on your own two feet, and meeting deadlines. It shows teams that you can be responsible.

A very long way down the road, having the ME degree will always allow me to be involved in something. I am definitely a gearhead and I love figuring out a problem, especially when all the math you do adds up to something that is functional, it is a great moment. It is very cool to use the tools that you learned, put them to practice, and make something. Who knows what the future holds, but right now my main focus is being the best I can behind the wheel of a race car, everything else will come in time.

EKN: What advice would you have for drivers today who are looking to move up the racing ladder from the karting ranks?

JM: This is a tough question, because there are so many areas of advice. The goal for any karter who wants to be a professional driver is to make it to the top of the sport whether it is F1, Indy Car, NASCAR, or sportscars. My first piece of advice to a karter, who is still in karting, is to spend at least one year in the Senior ranks, do not go straight to cars. Each level of karting teaches you something: the Jr. 1 (Cadet) level is where you learn the basics, Jr. 2 level (Junior) is where you learn to be fast, and the senior level is where you learn to race tactfully.

Beyond that, the best advice I tell karters is to have a plan on where they want to be in motorsport. This will help you understand what it may take to get there. You may have to move to a different country for example or start aligning yourself with certain programs. It is no secret that without funding it is nearly impossible to climb any racing ladder.

Lets take for example IndyCar, which I have a lot of experience on its ladder system. Looking at the Mazda Road to Indy, if a driver was to fund it themselves, they’d need to budget for one year in USF2000 ($300,000), one year in Pro Mazda ($500,000), and two years in Indy Lights ($1.2M each year). Add up those numbers and that means a driver would need to bring around $3.2 Million dollars and they are not even in Indy Car yet, which your first season may run $5 million if you are good. Remember, these numbers are generic figures and there are certain teams out there that could partially fund a driver if they believe he is good enough. Those are few and far between.

Joel has spoken to thousands of high school students, with the Mazda R.A.C.E.program

Joel has spoken to thousands of high school students, with the Mazda R.A.C.E.program

 

Now here is another idea, show that you can win and use the Mazda Road to Indy for what it was designed to be. The scholarships that Mazda provide allows the champion to advance to the next level. This has proved to be a viable path for many current IndyCar drivers who showed they were good and used the ladder system proving it can work. Having money makes getting to the top form of the sport easier, but that does not mean those who are less fortunate cannot use talent to get there, plus some funding along the way.

Another piece of advice that I tell karters, was told to me by my good friend John Targett when I drove for Energy during my Jr. 1 days. At some point, it will get tough and you are going to have to ask yourself ‘How Bad Do You Want It’. How you answer that question is very important.

EKN: Joel, thank you for your time and we wish you best of luck at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the rest of the season.

JM: Always a pleasure speaking with you and everyone at EKN.  If any karters are at our events, please stop by to say ‘hello’.

Mazda Prototypes Race New MZ-2.0T Engine

- Engine will make its race debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona - 

 

IRVINE, Calif. (January 8, 2016) –  The two-car Mazda Prototype race team will be powered by the new gasoline-fueled MZ-2.0T engine this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The engine has been in development for much of the past year and has completed nearly 4,000 test miles prior to this weekend’s “ROAR before the 24” test session at the Daytona International Speedway. 


The MZ-2.0T earned its name from its configuration: “MZ” refers to Mazda, “2.0” references its 2-liter capacity, while “T” is a nod to the turbocharger. The inline, four-cylinder engine is built upon a similar foundation of the MZR-R engine that was developed by Mazda and Advanced Engine Research Ltd. (AER) for sports car racing beginning in 2006. In addition to the new Prototype engine, Mazda works with AER on the current version of the MZR-R engine that powers the entire field in the Indy Lights series, the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy. 


John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports North America 
“We gained immense knowledge from three years of racing a stock-block diesel engine. That knowledge will improve the next generation of Mazda diesel engines. But, with the impending rules changes in 2017 [which will not allow a diesel-fueled option], a purpose-built racing engine was our best choice to reach our long-term goals and contend for race wins and championships. After extensive testing, the MZ-2.0T is not only very fast, but reliable as well. There was no off-season for this team, as they’ve worked incredibly hard to prepare for the season. Mazda loves to race, and we couldn’t be more optimistic about the prospect of this engine and our team.” 


Jonathan Bomarito, Driver, Mazda Prototype team 
“The drivability of the engine is incredible. The first thing you notice is how smooth the power is delivered in every gear through the RPM range. There is great low-end torque with zero turbo-lag, which is very impressive. All race tracks are different and the gearing is never perfect for every corner, so having an engine where you can short-shift or stretch a gear longer is very important. The MZ-2.0T does this easily.” 


Marcus Shen, Chief Engineer, Mazda Prototype team 
“This engine has transformed everything for us. Obviously, it’s more powerful so we’re going faster. Once you go faster, the aerodynamics work very differently - we have much more downforce - and the chassis works better. It’s not just straightaway speed, the engine has improved every aspect of our overall performance. 


“A gasoline, direct-injected engine - like many of the Mazda passenger cars - helps with the horsepower and throttle response and yet still produces great fuel economy. When the driver puts the pedal down, it goes. It’s creating roughly 285 horsepower per liter, which is much higher than the estimated 110 horsepower per liter of the 5.5-liter V8 Daytona Prototype engines.” 


The Mazda Prototype team features two entries: the No. 55 car (numbered in honor of the 25th anniversary of Mazda’s Le Mans victory) with drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez, and the No. 70 car with Joel Miller and Tom Long driving. For the Rolex 24, current Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot will join the No. 55 team, while Ben Devlin will return to the team to drive the No. 70. 

Specifications: MZ-2.0T Engine 
•    Capacity: 2 liters
•    Cylinders: 4 inline cylinders
•    Horsepower: approximately 570 horsepower (285 HP per liter) 
•    Maximum RPM: 9,000
•    Injection: Direct injection, multi-hole, spray guided injectors
•    Fuel Rail Pressure: More than 1,500 PSI
•    Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
•    Peak Manifold Pressure: 2.6 bar (37.7 PSI) 
•    Turbocharger: single Garrett Motorsports unit, 46mm restrictor
•    Exhaust Manifold: tubular 4-2-1 manifold
•    Intake Manifold: bespoke carbon fiber
•    Oiling System: bespoke dry sump system
•    ECU:  LIFE engine management ECU

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 which culminates in the Mazda Prototype team that races in the top level of IMSA sports car racing in North America. The Mazda Road to Indy is a similar system in open-wheel racing, which includes USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights racing categories with Mazda power. The new Global MX-5 Cup car makes its debut in 2016, with affordable, turnkey race cars available direct from Mazda. In the grassroots categories, more Mazdas road race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. 


Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. 

Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at www.mazdausamedia.com

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Mazda kicks off R.A.C.E. program ahead of Rolex 24

http://www.racer.com/mazda-kicks-off-race-program-ahead-of-rolex-24/article/329634/

 

Mazda has a big challenge facing its new P2 diesel program when official practice for the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona begins in seven days. As the first P2 prototypes of their kind, the manufacturer's 2.2-liter 4-cylinder turbo SkyActiv diesel powerplants have a significant learning curve to overcome in their quest to challenge the established P2 programs.

That season-long development process, as it turns out, will complement a second learning-based initiative Mazda unveiled on Wednesday as members of the brand's motorsports program visited DeLand High School in Deland, Fla., to kick off its Racing Accelerates Creative Education (R.A.C.E) initiative.

S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) programs have been gaining in popularity within the industry in recent years, and with Mazda's R.A.C.E. take on the theme set to visit schools prior to each round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Mazda Motorsports manager John Doonan hopes to motivate students in areas that have been in a steady decline.

“We are convinced that our R.A.C.E. program will demonstrate to students in an interesting, fun and engaging way how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are central to the success of Mazda on the race track and in the marketplace,” he said. “Our goal is to show students just one example of how exciting problem solving can be in the STEM arena and motivate them to always be curious and open to the possibilities.”

600 students assembled for a presentation highlighting the four S.T.E.M. disciplines in relation to motorsports with help from Mazda factory driver Joel Miller, and were then treated to a look inside the team's P2 car and transporter.
A nice and unexpected touch was seen when the P2 car was unveiled with DeLand High School Principal Mitch Moyer's name added to the door of the Multimatic-built coupe.
 
“DeLand High School is absolutely thrilled and honored to be chosen by Mazda Motorsports to host their cutting-edge presentation and learning experience connected to the exciting world of the Rolex 24-hour race,” said Moyer. “Anytime motorsports can be linked to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it proves to be an attention-getting combination.”

 

 

Post season message from Joel

Hello Everyone,
 
The 2013 season has come to an end in the Rolex Grand Am championship and what a year it has been.  I am happy to say that in my first full season of sportscar racing I was able to record second in the overall Grand Am Rolex GX championship, Most wins in class, and ultimately the 2013 Grand Am Rolex Rookie of the Year title.
 
Along the way I was asked to drive for Freedom Autosport in two of Grand Am's Continental Tire Championship races in the ST division where we scored a pole position at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and the overall victory at Lime Rock Park.
 
The year was capped off as I was part of the first class of inductee's to Mazda's Road to Indy Pro Mazda Hall of Fame along with Joey Hand, Michael McDowell, and Tristan Vautier.
 
It was a year of firsts, because I recorded my first Sportscar victory which was also the first victory for a diesel engine in Grand Am.  My crew at SpeedSource worked very hard to prepare the new SKYACTIV-D CLEAN DIESEL engine that powered our Mazda6.  Without their help this season, It would not have produced the results that it did.  I am very thankful to Mazda's partners and VISITFLORIDA.com for their involvement as well.
 
This year I have to say thank you to my personal supporters such as Oakley, OMP racewear, Bell Helmets, USANA with their Rev3 product, and Dream Cars Automotive.  Also, there are many names that have helped in years past which got me to where I am today.  The Mazda brand has taken me from karting to the top step of the podium in Grand Am.
 
Next year is already here and announcements will be coming during the holiday period.  You can keep up to date with the new developments via my twitter: joelmilleracing or my Facebook fan page: Joel Miller Racing.
 
2014 will be a big year for SportsCar racing in North America which will get started at the 24hrs of Daytona in January.
 
Thank you for everyone who supported me along the way this season!
 
Joel
 
 
www.joelmillerracing.com
Twitter: @joelmilleracing
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joel-Miller/128737244405

Freedom Autosport Closes Season with a Win for Nunez, Miller at Lime Rock

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2013
Contact: Beth Dolgner, (678) 485-1947, bdolgner@gmail.com

Freedom Autosport Closes Season with a Win for Nunez, Miller at Lime Rock

LAKEVILLE, Conn.—Freedom Autosport closed the 2013 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season with a win at Lime Rock Park, marking the second consecutive ST victory for the team.

Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez piloted the winning No. 27 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. It was Nunez’s first appearance with the team and Miller’s second, but the two showed their adaptability and speed for the duration of the 2.5-hour race.

Nunez qualified sixth with a quick time of 59.428 around the 1.5-mile track. When the race started, Nunez quickly worked his way up to third, where he spent the majority of his stint.

“There was a lot of traffic,” says Nunez. “I made my way up to third, but it was difficult. I haven’t had to fight that hard for position all season.”

When a full-course caution coincided with the team’s pit stop schedule, the Freedom Autosport crew did such a flawless job that the No. 27 Mazda was still in the top five when Miller took it back on track.

Miller knew that the Mazda was fast enough to win, but first he had to work his way around three slower cars. “We were stuck behind a blockade! This track is known to be difficult to pass on, so I was trying to go down the inside (in turn one),” Miller says, adding that when the competition blocked the inside line, “we had to find something else to do. I made the decision to go around the outside.”

That proved to be the right decision, and Miller was poised for the lead when a caution began. The green flag waved with just five minutes left in the race, and Miller wasted no time taking over the top spot. He led four laps to give Freedom Autosport their second consecutive win.

“It’s by far the hardest racing I’ve had all year, but the Freedom Autosport guys gave us an amazing car, and it’s incredible to drive,” says Nunez.

This is the third win of the season for Freedom Autosport. The team also earned three second-place finishes. “The Freedom Autosport crew and drivers have been amazing all season,” says team co-owner Derek Whitis. “The crew gave us great cars every weekend, and we were able to show what a fast, consistent race car the Mazda MX-5 is.”

Rhett O’Doski and Andrew Carbonell won the ST race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the previous round in the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. O’Doski qualified ninth at Lime Rock, and Carbonell had the car up to seventh before an oil pressure issue forced them to retire.

Derek Whitis qualified eighth in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, and he and Tom Long had to fight their way back after going a lap down early in the race. They continued to push, finishing 17th.

Catch Freedom Autosport’s win during the race broadcast on Sunday, October 6, at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

ABOUT MAZDA
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 largest road-racing class in the world is Spec Miata, with more than 2,500 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. www.mazdausa.com


Kansas road trip and winning under the lights

My previous columns have been race weekend previews that include a particular topic. This time we are going to look back on the Kansas Speedway Grand-Am race,as it turned out to be an interesting event under the lights Saturday night. For Mazda, SpeedSource, and the new SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel Technology the race produced our seventh win in a row!

 

 

The track was extremely fast when on the oval, which tested the performance of the cars. The SpeedSource engineers were able to gather additional data from this style of track as we move forward in development.

The Kansas race week actually started off as a road trip from Road America. I was part of the minivan crew with my SpeedSource guys. Since our rental minivan had a TV it was a movie marathon which included: The Other Guys, Oblivion, Paul, Step Brothers, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. My favorite was Oblivion before I moved to the front seat to keep the driver awake. The guys in the back eventually figured out the "stow-n-go" seats for the middle row. Leg room was not a problem any longer. After the 11 hour drive and a few stops for fuel/food we arrived in Kansas City.

Tuesday was move in and setup day. My guys were busy with the driveshaft repairs from our race the weekend before at Road America. Tristan Nunez and I claimed the victory but moments after the checkered flag a driveshaft failure occurred. Our SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engines have been performing great but the weak links that plague our team car No. 70 plus ourselves have all been non-Mazda parts related. The development process continues. With each parts improvement the stress and strain moves to the next weak point in the system. The engineers at SpeedSource continue to work hard and extend life cycles which is showing as we have been on a seven race winning streak!

Wednesday was an off day for the crew members. We decided to explore downtown Kansas City and found the National World War I museum, plus one of the Federal Reserves. We toured the WWI museum for hours, watch various videos about battles, the extremities of trench style warfare, and of course looked about some pretty big guns! Overall it was an amazing museum and proud to be an American after walking out.

The Federal Reserve was impressive. Three robots run the entire place and they have been comically named: Hughie, Dewey, and Louie. They run on trackless paths with a forklift device to carry the crates of cash. On the way back to the parking lot we saw a German Shephard and guard with what looked like an AR-15 on normal patrol. We carried on to find a local BBQ joint for lunch before heading back to our hotel. That afternoon it was a short 3.5 mile run with a few team members around town before calling it an evening.