Thursday, May 21, 2009
Mazda Renews Partnership with Atlantic Championship
by Nate Siebens
BROWNSBURG, Ind. -- Continuing a relationship that began in 2006, officials from the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda and Mazda North American Operations today announced that Mazda has renewed its contract with the series for three more years as official sponsor and engine partner. The new agreement covers the 2009 through 2011 racing seasons.
“Mazda has been a terrific partner for the Atlantic Championship for the past three years and we are looking forward to three more great years,” said Atlantic Championship President Ben Johnston. “We are honored by Mazda’s tremendous support for the series and for our status at the top of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder. The series has been fortunate over the years to have outstanding manufacturer support, and we intend to carry that forward well into the future.”
Under the agreement, Atlantic Championship racecars will continue to be powered by 2.3-liter MZR engines producing 300 horsepower. The MZR engine is based on the same powerplant used in the production MAZDA3, MAZDASPEED3, MAZDA5, MAZDA6, MX-5 and CX-7. Mazda Atlantic engines are prepared by Cosworth. Mazda is also extremely active in promoting the Atlantic Championship through marketing programs.
“While we are most recognized for sports car racing, Mazda has been involved in open wheel racing since 1984,” noted Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, and the man responsible for Mazda’s North American motorsports operations under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner. “Along with our partners in the Atlantic Championship, Cooper Tires, Swift Engineering, and Cosworth, we look forward to the next chapter in Atlantic history.”
The Atlantic Championship sits atop the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, which also includes Star Mazda, the Skip Barber National Championship and Mazda-sponsored kart races. In addition to the open-wheel development ladder, Mazda is also extremely active throughout North American motorsports-competition, supporting the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup series, SPEED World Challenge, GT cars in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and LMP2 vehicles used in the American Le Mans Series. On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle.
Next up for the Atlantic Championship is the Mazda Formula X doubleheader at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J. on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14. The races will comprise the third and fourth rounds of the 12-race 2009 schedule. John Edwards, the 2008 Star Mazda champion, leads the series championship by five points, 36-31, over Simona De Silvestro heading to New Jersey.
The Atlantic Championship is the longest-running open-wheel driver development series in North America and celebrated its 35th Anniversary season in 2008, with Finnish rookie Markus Niemela taking the series championship in the final race of the season. With a $1 million champion’s prize and a total of $3 million in prize money up for grabs, the 2009 Atlantic Championship offers one of the most lucrative prize packages in North American open-wheel racing.
The series is noted for its long history of graduating its drivers into the top levels of motorsport throughout the world, including IndyCar drivers such as Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Graham Rahal and Raphael Matos, Formula One world champions such as Jacques Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger and sports car stars like Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney, Michael Valiante, Joey Hand and Simon Pagenaud.
Atlantic Championship graduates have won races and championships at the highest levels of motorsport, including Formula 1, IndyCar and Champ Car, and sports cars. In 2009, Atlantic graduates will again be top competitors in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, the American Le Mans Series, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and even the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series among many others. Learn more about Atlantic at www.atlantic-championship.com.