Pro Mazda Championship
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|Category||Open Wheel Racing|
|Constructors||Star Race Cars|
|Engine suppliers||Mazda Renesis|
|Drivers' champion||Matthew Brabham|
|Teams' champion||Team Pelfrey|
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. Its INDYCAR sanctioning and place in the Road to Indy remain unchanged.
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.
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.
The Mazda Pro Series (as it was originally known as) 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 Bheekuis (to name a few).
First year the “Star Formula Mazda” was constructed by Valley Motor Center, Inc.
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).
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.
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.
Series renamed Star Mazda North American Championship presented by Goodyear.
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.
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.
Raphael Matos becomes third driver to win four races in a row; wins series championship.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Star Mazda schedule extensively revised to include six IndyCar weekends, co-feature weekend with Indy Lights and participation in IndyCar 'Spring Training.' Andretti Motorsports joins the series, becoming the first team to compete at every level of the Mazda Road to Indy, including IndyCar. Five drivers from 2010 series test Indy Lights cars, two drivers (Anders Krohn and David Ostella) announce full-season Indy Lights programs.
- Constructor: Star Race Cars / 3715 E Palm ST., Mesa, AZ 85215 / (818) 934-STAR (7827)
- Engine Displacement: 79 in³ (1.3 L) Wankel rotary engine
- Gearbox: Hewland 6 Speed Sequential Manual Transmission
- Weight: 1070 lb (495 kg) dry
- Power Output: 260 hp (194 kW)
- Fuel: 98 octane gasoline with oil pre-mix (Sunoco 260 GTX)
- Fuel Capacity: 19 U.S. gallons (72 liters)
- Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection
- Compression Ratio: 10:1
- Aspiration: Naturally aspirated
- Wheelbase: 100.5 in (2.552 m)
- Front Track: 61.5 in (1.653 m)
- Rear Track: 58.5 in (1.485 m)
- Steering: Manual, rack and pinion
- Tires: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company tires, similar to those in US F2000 series
|Star Mazda Championship|
|Pro Mazda Championship|
- Star Mazda relaunches as Pro Mazda under new ownership, Racer, December 7, 2012, Retrieved 2012-12-08