Mazdaspeed (often stylized in all-caps as MAZDASPEED) is Mazda's in-house performance division. The company is a grass-roots racing team in Japan. Now owned by Mazda Motor Corporation, they build production model vehicles, become involved in motorsports development, and offer performance parts and accessories.
Mazdaspeed began in 1967 as "Mazda Sports Corner", an independent racing team and tuning operation run by Takayoshi Ohashi, who also ran Mazda's Tokyo distributor. They competed in numerous events at home and abroad, and they were also competitive at the 24 Hours of Le Mans races in the early 1980s with the 717, 727, and 737. Mazda brought the racing team to Hiroshima in 1983 where the name became Mazdaspeed. In 1991, Mazdaspeed's 787B won at Le Mans, a feat no other Japanese team has managed. After the FIA effectively outlawed the Wankel engine as well as Merecedes's Flat 12 engine the next year, the Mazdaspeed team raced one more year at Le Mans in a Piston powered car which came fourth, then turned away from professional racing and focused instead on enabling third-party competition of Mazda vehicles.
Mazda Motor Corporation assumed control of Mazdaspeed in 1999 as a tuning and performance parts operation within the company. It began offering performance based versions of its vehicles to consumers in 2003.
In 2003, Mazda debuted its first consumer-offered Mazdaspeed vehicle model, the 2003 Mazdaspeed Protegé. It was only released to the North American market as a performance upgrade to the Protegé MP3 and it offered more power — from the MP3's 140 bhp (104 kW) to 170 bhp (127 kW) — by using a T25 Callaway-Garrett turbocharger and an intercooler. Some modifications included new front air dam and a new spoiler.
A year after, in 2004, another Mazdaspeed model was offered. It was the Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata; which too was released only in the North American market. It featured an IHI single-scroll turbocharger producing 8.5 psi (0.6 bar) of boost to further increase power, from 142 bhp (106 kW; 144 PS) to 178 bhp (133 kW; 180 PS) and torque from 125 lb·ft (169 N·m) to 166 lb·ft (225 N·m) Mazda soon realized that these high performance models could be successful outside of North America and would make the next vehicles available worldwide.
The Mazdaspeed3 was introduced for the 2007 model year — which, with 263 bhp (196 kW; 267 PS) and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m) of torque, was the most powerful vehicle in its class.. In the fall of 2009 Mazda released the second generation 2010 Mazdaspeed3. The newly styled Mazdaspeed3 carries forward the MZR 2.3L DISI turbocharged engine again with 263 bhp (196 kW; 267 PS) at 5500 rpm and 280 lb·ft (380 N·m) of torque at 3000 rpm with refreshed interior, sheet metal, and body kit.
Mazda brands a selection of several racing series as the Mazdaspeed as well as a driver development ladder. This program, which began in 2005, is organized by Mazda and promoters offering presents season winners in a given series with an automatic ride in the next series on the ladder.
The sports car version, Road to (the Rolex) 24 (at Daytona), offers winners of the Global MX-5 Cup Spec Miata series a promotion to the Prototype Lites series, and the winner there is offered a ride in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, with opportunities later on in the IMSA WeatherTech United Sports Car Championship.
The single-seater version, the Road to Indy, offers drivers who win in any different number of series a shootout where they can make the US F2000 championship, then advance to Pro Mazda, and then Indy Lights, before earning a ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series.