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.”