These little race cars start life as MX-5 road cars, which are built in Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan factory. They are then shipped to Long Road Racing in Statesville, North Carolina where Mazda transforms them into spec race cars, each one identical. As part of the transformation process, Long Road Racing completely disassembles the cars and adds more than 250 motorsports-specific parts, including a full roll cage. This results in even competition and a cost-effective racing platform.
We spoke to the reigning 2016 champion Nathanial, who is based in Sebring, Florida, at the start of the race weekend. “Every year we get to come to Canada for a race, and it’s always super exciting. Normally we’re at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (near Bowmanville, Ontario), but, this year they changed it up a little bit and switched it to Toronto. It’s one of the races we look forward to every year. You guys are always so hospitable and you have a fan base that is hard to find anywhere else.”
When asked about his road car, Sparks responded, “My father has an MX-5 that he bought just because we bought the race car. We thought, this thing’s [so] good as a race car, we wondered what it was like as a street car. It’s super fun! He drives it to work every day and I get to drive it once in a while.”
Mazda Motorsports has earned the reputation for the most supportive company in grassroots road racing. Total payouts to Mazda club racers for 2016 successes exceeded USD $1 million. This is in addition to the USD $1.3 million Mazda awarded to champions in the professional ranks in the Mazda Road to Indy and Mazda Road to 24. On any given weekend, more Mazda’s participate in road races than any other brand.
Matt Cresci (L), Patrick Gallagher (C), Nathaniel Sparks (R)
The next two race weekends are September 2-3 at Watkins Glen International and September 23-24 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Global Invitational takes place October 13-15 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
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