The MAZDASPEED History.
What is MAZDASPEED?
MAZDASPEED factory-engineered vehicles, performance parts and accessories, and motorsports programs are the ultimate expression of our Always the Soul of a Sport Car spirit. MAZDASPEED is the destination for driving enthusiasts who desire to experience Mazda at the highest, most exhilarating level.
MAZDASPEED's own grass-roots racing heritage is as authentic as it gets. It traces its origin to an independent racing team in 1967 under the name "Mazda Sports Corner" at Mazda Auto Tokyo, Japan's largest Mazda dealer. Impressed by performance potential of the Cosmo 110S, the sleek two-seat sports car marked the debut of the first-ever production rotary engine, the team ambitiously set out to establish a Mazda presence at major motorsports events worldwide. At the same time, Mazda was interested in proving the viability of its rotary engine to the world. The two goals came together with the racing team's 1968 international debut, fielding two Cosmos at the Nordshleife, Nuerburgring for the "Marathon de la Route," an incredibly grueling 84-hour endurance event. The surprise came when the little Cosmo took fourth place, a great achievement for a new racing team and a new car with completely new engine technology.
Over the next 15 years, the team of hardcore Mazda racers campaigned across the U.S., Japan and Europe in both endurance and conventional sports car events. After Mazda replaced the Cosmo with the more practical R100, Europeans watched in awe as two of the boxy hatchbacks dogged four Porsche 911s for 24 hours at the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, claiming class wins and fifth and sixth place overall.
As Mazda launched new models, Mazda Sports Corner raced them. After the Cosmos and R100s came racing RX-2s and RX-3s. Everything then jumped up a notch or two when Mazda introduced the first RX-7 in 1978. Here was a car that would succeed in a variety of classes and, most noticeably in the U.S., would achieve an unprecedented 100 wins over the next 12 years in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Series.
In 1983, Mazda Motor Corporation brought the racing team from Tokyo to the company's corporate headquarters in Hiroshima to help drive Mazda's factory racing ambitions, and it was here that the MAZDASPEED name was born.
Now under the Mazda umbrella, MAZDASPEED continued to receive recognition for its amazing on-track performance and its many victories around the globe. Sights were turned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Privateers had raced Mazdas through the seventies, but MAZDASPEED had decided that it was time to join the fray. The eighties saw some class wins, and then in 1991, the MAZDASPEED team succeeded in doing what no other Japanese auto maker before or since has been able to accomplish: capturing the overall win at the world's most prestigious endurance race.
Fearing a long-standing technical single-brand dominance, FIA outlawed rotary engines after the 1991 Le Mans race. Unable to race Mazda's trademark rotary engine in the world's most prestigious venue, MAZDASPEED began focusing more on the business side of motorsports and started developing and building aftermarket parts and accessories, while continuing grassroots motorsports initiatives.
By this time, it was clear that a disproportionate number of Mazdas were appearing and winning in small owner-driver sports car events all over the world, and that this was where Mazda truly belonged and should focus its competitive efforts.
In 1999, Mazda Motor Corporation took full control of MAZDASPEED and has used its talents to supply racing parts and serve as an umbrella for all of Mazda's motorsports activities. The natural extension of this was to serve the Mazda street enthusiast as well, which MAZDASPEED has done with an expansion of its parts catalog and now with the development of MAZDASPEED-factory-engineered models sold in Mazda showrooms.
With the introduction of models such as the MAZDA6, MAZDA3 and RX-8, it is more clear than ever that Mazda truly does infuse its products with the "soul of a sports car." MAZDASPEED is the highest expression of that soul.
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