Pete Brock, John Morton, and Mazda Team Up For Road Atlanta
When the admiration is mutual, and the partnerships are among good friends, it's easy to make fun things happen quickly. Racing legends Peter Brock and John Morton will fly their famous #46 red, white, and blue pattern on a classic Japanese roadster at Road Atlanta later this month. The difference is that this will be a current brand of car, and it will be the most popular roadster ever sold or raced, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
For many years, the annual Walter Mitty Challenge has been a favorite vintage race weekend on the East Coast. Mazda teamed up to sponsor the event with Classic Motorsports/Grassroots Motorsports and HSR in 2006. To add a dash of the new and modern, Mazda brought its popular SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup series to the vintage race weekend.
Each year, a racing legend is honored at the Mitty -- for 2010, that honored legend is Peter Brock of Brock Racing Enterprises, aka BRE, fame. At this point, it's not clear if the idea came from Mazda, from Classic Motorsports, HSR, a BRE fan, or elsewhere, but someone simply said, 'Wouldn't it be cool to have a BRE MX-5 in the Playboy race to honor Pete?'
With Mazda, good ideas can turn into reality with a few quick phone calls. The Mazda design team sketched up a proper BRE graphics job for the MX-5. The MAZDASPEED team called John Morton to verify his interest. Since John had also scored more than a few race wins with Mazda during his career, that connection was strong, and his desire to race remains strong. Finally, Pete and Gayle Brock were shown the sketch and pitched the idea. Everyone said yes. QÚOTES: Peter Brock
-- 'It's been some 37 years since a factory supported car in BRE livery sat on a racing grid. Seeing the new MX-5 in our traditional colors almost brings tears to my eyes. It's wonderful that Mazda, a company that really loves, understands and supports racing of all kinds, has seen fit to honor our team's great racing history with this new spirit of competition' John Morton
-- 'This Walter Mitty weekend is very special for me because it is bringing together so many facets that were significant in my racing career. First is the reunion and recognition of our championship winning BRE team that Peter Brock developed in the late sixties and that led me to two SCCA National Championships and two 2.5 Trans-Am Championships in the early seventies. Second is the opportunity Mazda has given me to race in a professional race in my sixth decade of competition. Twenty-six years ago I shared the BFG-sponsored, class winning Mazda Lola at Le Mans which was the beginning of a long relationship with both companies. The Mazda Miata MX-5 I will be racing at the Mitty, the only real modern sports car in mass production, is a reincarnation of the cars that started this sport in America in the late forties.' Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Mazda North American Operations
-- 'Mazda is a team of enthusiasts. Long before we began working behind the scenes for Mazda, we were race fans. We love the sport and the heritage. This opportunity to pay tribute to Pete, John, and the BRE team is something we did out of respect, with knowledge that there are others like us who appreciate the blending of heritage and modern sport.'
Mazda unveiled the car at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in the Mothers Polish display within the fan expo. If you are a fan of BRE, the best advice is to quickly plan your trip to Atlanta, bring a camera, dress in your best 1970's clothes, and prepare for a fun weekend.HISTORICAL NOTES:
* 2010 will mark the 40th Anniversary of John Morton winning the SCCA C Production (CP) Championship at Road Atlanta in a BRE prepared Datsun 240Z.
* 2010 will mark the 40th Anniversary of Mazda selling cars in the Únited States.
* To learn more about BRE and the Peter Brock story, visit www.bre2.net
* Over the course of his career, John Morton has raced for just about every OEM and race car manufacturer including BMW, Cobra, Datsun, Eagle, Ferrari, Ford, Frisbee, Jaguar, Lola, Lotus, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche, and Toyota. ABOÚT MAZDA
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you'll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the largest road-racing class in the world is Spec Miata, with more than 2,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.
Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the Únited States in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the Únited States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.Source - Mazda
Rumor to be designed after the Lotus Elan, the Mazda Miata is the world's best selling sports car. With over 720,000 produced between 1989 and 2005, production proves Mazda held its title consistently.
The history of the Miata is one of interest and success. Unveiled in 1989 as the 'Eunos Roadser', prior to the name change to the Miata, it was a designed collaboration between the USA and England. Created to be a basic roadster without unnecessary weight, it was an instant success with over 23,000 sold by the end of its first year. With a starting price of $13,800, the Miata, despite its small design, made a sizeable impact in the success of Mazda's future.
The shell of the Miata is all steel with an aluminum bonnet. Weighing in at over 2,380 pounds, the Miata confirmed its small roadster appeal. The trusswork is uniquely called the 'Powerplant Frame', which connects the engine to the differential, creating a more firm and responsive feel. It's quick and responsive handling is helped due to independent double wishbone suspension on all four wheels with an anti-roll bar at the front. Optional paddle shifting was available with the six speed automatic versions of the Touring, Sport, and Grand Touring models. With power to the rear wheels, drivers thirst for corners even if they're beginners.
The Miata's appearance ranks among attractive qualities. Its cozy, subtle, curved design helped to propel sales to customers of all ages to a higher level. The bright color palette offered during production accented the appearance and still turns heads today, making onlookers yearn to get behind the wheel of this convertible on owners pine for the summer months.
A 'Special Touring Option Edition' was also offered, which included stainless steel scuff plates, Twilight Blue paint, and 15 inch Enkei wheels. The 'Club Spec' version was available with 16 inch alloy wheels and four wheel disc brakes with ABS, but also offered a limited amount of color options: Winning Blue Metallic, Marble White, and True Red.
The interior, though tight, beckoned stereo enthusiasts and those who revel in the appeal and stigma of leather. Optional passenger-side airbags and standard drivers–side airbags provided safety without drastically impacting the beauty of the interior.
With the introduction of the 'M Edition' came a wood shift knob and chrome wheels with Montego Blue paint. The option of a wooden parking brake handle was available on this edition for complete look. Other editions such as the 'Touring Package' included power steering, a leather wrapped steering wheel, power mirrors, aluminum alloy wheels, and power windows. Also, the available 'Club Spec' model included CD player with speed sensitive sound, four speakers, black cloth trimmed upholstery, power windows, locks, and mirrors and black vinyl top.
Engines for the Miata were available with a 1.6L, 1.8L or 2.0L. The 1.6 L dual overhead cam inline four-cylinder engine produced 120 horsepower with 0-60 times consisting of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 119 miles per hour.
The 1.8L produced 140 horsepower with help of the raised engine compression ratio and the additions of domed pistons. The additions also helped the 0-60 time, which was marked at 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 123 miles per hour. In 2005, the 2.0L was the latest engine thrusting the Miata. The 16 valve engine produced 170 horsepower with a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, bringing the Miata to a fast finish when production ceased in the same year.
Even though all 3rd generation 2006 models all over the world now go with the name 'MX-5', the Miata will always be the true coupe that helped to accelerate the sports car appeal with today's roadsters.Kyle McMullen