Pro Mazda Championship

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Pro Mazda Championship
Category Open Wheel Racing
Country United States United States
Inaugural season 1991
Drivers 32
Teams 29
Constructors Star Race Cars
Engine suppliers Mazda Renesis
Tire suppliers Cooper
Drivers' champion United States Spencer Pigot
Teams' champion United States Juncos Racing[1]
Official website starmazda.com
Motorsport current event.svg Current season
Star Mazda car in 2009

The Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, formerly known as the Star Mazda Championship, is an open-wheel racecar driver development series in North America. Competitors use spec Formula Mazda race cars built by Star Race Cars. The original series, using first-generation tube-frame cars started in the early 1990s, with the current, high-tech, carbon-fiber car released in 2004. The series has historically included road courses, street courses, and ovals. The series' primary sponsors are Mazda and Goodyear and the cars, while purpose built for the track with carbon fiber monocoques, are powered by 250 horsepower Mazda 'Renesis' rotary engines. The series' stated goal is "to develop new race driving talent". In 2010 the series became a part of The Road to Indy, and in 2011 became governed by Indy Racing League, LLC as the sanctioning body. In December 2012, series founder Gary Rodriguez announced that the series had been sold to Dan Andersen's Andersen Promotions (which already sanctioned the F2000 class on the Road to Indy) and would be renamed the Pro Mazda Championship. Andersen previously owned a multi-car Star Mazda team, Andersen Racing.[2] Its INDYCAR sanctioning and place in the Road to Indy remain unchanged.

History[edit]

The series had, in the past, held six geographic divisions, each of which held their own championship. In the late 1990s a single national series emerged as the primary venue for the cars. The series has gradually risen in importance on the American open wheel racing landscape as other comparable series such as Formula BMW Americas and Formula TR 2000 Pro Series ceased operating. In the mid-2000s the series formed a relationship with the Skip Barber National Championship and in 2010 Star Mazda became a part of the Mazda Road to Indy program, between the U.S. F2000 National Championship and Indy Lights. Through the Mazda Road to Indy program, the Star Mazda champion receives funding to compete in Indy Lights the following year.

Many Star Mazda graduates have gone on to race in top-tier open wheel series, including American Formula One and NASCAR driver Scott Speed, IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Raphael Matos, and Rolex Sports Car Series and NASCAR driver Michael McDowell.

1983[edit]

The first single-seat, tube-frame "prototype" race car (powered by a Mazda rotary engine) was built by Hayashi (in Japan) for use by the Jim Russell Racing School was shipped to the Riverside Raceway school in late 1983.

1984[edit]

The Mazda Pro Series (as it was originally known) made its competition debut at the Long Beach Grand Prix. In late 1984, The Jim Russell School was required to make the chassis legal to race in SCCA sanctioned events. So, it was required that all the car's roll over bars to be cut off and replaced with a legal SCCA spec hoop. Shortly thereafter, the car became so popular that numerous regional/divisional series were established by the Russell Racing School. The SCCA reluctantly accepted the car into its amateur levels of racing and dubbed it FR (Formula Russell). Early competitors included: Johnny O'Connell, Tommy Kendall, Mike Groff, Jeff Krosnoff, Norm Turley, Norm Breedlove (Craig Breedlove's son), Ken Thwaits, Jon Beekhuis (to name a few).

1990[edit]

First year the “Star Formula Mazda” was constructed by Valley Motor Center, Inc.

1991[edit]

Star Mazda Series created by Gary Rodrigues. First-ever Star Mazda race held in June at Willow Springs Raceway, California (Winner Mark Rodrigues driving for Valley Motor Center).

1996[edit]

First Star Mazda Series race as a supporting event on an Indy Racing League weekend at the Phoenix Dura Lube 200 in March. First time a Star Mazda race is shown on national TV – ESPN. Kevin Jenkins was the race winner.

1999[edit]

Series gains additional title sponsor, becomes "Best Western Star Mazda Championship" and becomes a national professional series supporting the American Le Mans Series in its inaugural year. Joey Hand wins five of the seven races on the schedule, and becomes the first driver in series history to win four races in a row. His prize includes a brand-new Mazda Miata street car.

2001[edit]

Series renamed Star Mazda North American Championship presented by Goodyear.

2003[edit]

Mazda rotary engine re-introduced in a production vehicle, the RX-8 sports car, decision made to utilize new engine in new Star Mazda race car.

2004[edit]

Current Star Mazda 'Pro' car introduced, featuring a carbon-fiber chassis and 250 hp Renesis, two-rotor rotary engine (same rotary engine used in the current Mazda RX-8). Car designed by Star Race Cars; chassis built by Elan Motorsport Technologies. Series changes name to Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Michael McDowell becomes second driver to win four races in a row; wins Series championship.

2005[edit]

Raphael Matos becomes third driver to win four races in a row; wins series championship.

2007[edit]

MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder created to provide funding for champions in various Mazda-powered series to move up in class. Dane Cameron becomes the first Star Mazda Champion to move up to the Atlantic Championship via the MAZDASPEED Ladder.

2008[edit]

Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series Champion, becomes the first driver to move up to Star Mazda via the MAZDASPEED Ladder. Star Mazda changes from rolling starts to standing starts to better prepare drivers for moving up to Atlantic and Champ Car.Series changes from bias-ply racing slicks to radials designed specifically for the series by Goodyear. Goodyear has been the sole tire provider for the national series since its inception. Both Goodyear and Mazda signed 5-year extensions of their title sponsorship of the series, through the end of the 2012 season.

2009[edit]

Raphael Matos becomes first StarMazda driver to race in each Mazda-powered series (Skip Barber, Star Mazda, Atlantic) and graduate to IndyCar.

The Star Mazda Championship car undergoes its first major mechanical upgrade since it was introduced, including aerodynamic package, engine and suspension modifications, etc. Upgrade package, designed to make the car easier more reliable and easier to maintain, lower the cost of competition and make it easier for the driver and engineer to hit the 'sweet spot' in the car's handling and performance, is offered to teams, but use is not mandatory.

Oval races re-join the Star Mazda schedule for the first time since 2006; events include Milwaukee Mile (winner Anders Krohn) and Iowa Speedway (winner Peter Dempsey)

2010[edit]

IRL 'Road to Indy' program announced, along with creation of IRL-sanctioned USF2000 championship. USF2000, Star Mazda Championship and Indy Lights series named official series on the Road to Indy. First 'Road to Indy' race held with all three series at the same event: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Conor Daly winner).Conor Daly becomes fourth driver in Star Mazda history (including Joey hand in 1999, Michael McDowell in 2004 and Raphael Matos in 2005) to win four races in a row; goes on the win the championship. Star Mazda TV package includes syndication to 155 million homes worldwide.

2011[edit]

Mazda announced as title sponsor of Mazda Road to Indy driver development program that includes scholarship funding for champions at each level to move up and compete in the next higher series; USF2000 > Star Mazda > Indy Lights > IndyCar. The Star Mazda schedule was extensively revised to include six IndyCar weekends, co-feature weekend with Indy Lights, and participate in IndyCar 'Spring Training.' Andretti Autosport joined the series, becoming the first team to compete at every level of the Mazda Road to Indy, including IndyCar. Five drivers from 2010 series tested Indy Lights cars and two drivers (Anders Krohn and David Ostella) announced full-season Indy Lights programs.

2012[edit]

Team Pelfrey's rookie driver Jack Hawksworth dominated the championship. 2011 champion Tristan Vautier advanced to Indy Lights and won the championship there.

2013[edit]

The series' 2013 season was in doubt until it was purchased by Andersen Promotions shortly before the start of the season. The uncertainty had a negative impact to car counts. The 2013 schedule was even further aligned with IndyCar and Indy Lights. Rookie Matthew Brabham of Andretti Autosport won the championship and Gabby Chaves, Sage Karam, Jack Hawksworth, and Zach Veach advanced to Indy Lights.

Specifications[edit]

Champions[edit]

Season Champion
Star Mazda Championship
1991 United States Mark Rodriguez
1992 United States Chuck West
1993 United States Ben Massey
1994 United States Brad Loehner
1995 United States Mark Rodriguez
1996 United States Rich Stephens
1997 United States Tony Buffomonte
1998 United States Ian Lacy
1999 United States Joey Hand
2000 United States Bernardo Martinez
2001 United States Scott Bradley
2002 United States Guy Cosmo
2003 Venezuela Luis Schiavo
2004 United States Michael McDowell
2005 Brazil Raphael Matos
2006 United States Adrian Carrio
2007 United States Dane Cameron
2008 United States John Edwards
2009 United Kingdom Adam Christodoulou
2010 United States Conor Daly
2011 France Tristan Vautier
2012 United Kingdom Jack Hawksworth
Pro Mazda Championship
2013 Australia Matthew Brabham
2014 United States Spencer Pigot

References[edit]

External links[edit]