Mazda supports its racers at the SCCA Runoffs with covered paddock space and parts support.
Like many race weekends, part of what makes the SCCA National Championship Runoffs (which runs from Sept. 16-Sept. 22) successful is manufacturer support. Without this, many racers might struggle to make the cross-country journey to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for the weeklong, winner-take-all, Club Racing championship.
Manufacturers have posted contingency programs to help SCCA racers for years, often offering cash awards based on performance. Many manufacturers also offer travel assistance in the form of a tow fund, helping to ensure that top amateur drivers representing its brand make it to the big show. But a select few go even further, offering technical support, workspace, parts, and even meals during the Runoffs.
Mazda is well represented at the SCCA Runoffs, with some 200 Mazda-powered cars entered this year, including a potential record breaking 70 in Spec Miata.
“Mazda supports amateur racing because, for us, it is a key part of our business model of motorsports,” says John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports. “Annually, Mazda sells millions of dollars worth of parts to thousands of racing customers nationwide. This business model is a foundation of our racing programs/motorsports strategy and allows us to sustain a strong presence in the motorsports industry…from grassroots to top-level professional racing.
“Our Mazda racing customers and enthusiasts are also some of our best brand advocates in the marketplace,” he continues. “Each weekend they put our vehicles and power trains to the ultimate test and allow us to tell the story of Mazda product quality, reliability, and durability.”
During the Runoffs, Mazda will have as many as five representatives to help service the needs of its customers. “Mike Allen and Scott Kaluza will man the parts truck that carries many of the essential parts that our competitors might need throughout the week,” says Doonan. “In addition, we will have daily parts shipments into the track for any last minute items our racers might need throughout the week.”
Racers of the Toyota brand receive free paddock space and support from a crew of Toyota experts.
In the Toyota camp, Toyota's National Motorpsorts Manager Les Unger, Toyota Racing Development's Steve Marston, along with Chuck Wade, Marty Schwerter, and Barbara Kunze, offer technical support and can help source parts for Toyota racers in need. Like Mazda, Toyota also offers drivers of its brand free paddock space, shelter, electricity, and lighting at the Runoffs.
“Toyota has been supporting amateur racing through the SCCA for over 25 years,” says Marston. “Racing displays the toughness and reliability of Toyota vehicles and parts, and the racers serve as front-line brand ambassadors. They are more likely to recommend a Toyota vehicle when they compete in one.”
While Toyota doesn't offer on-site parts support, the Toyota crew will lend a helping hand. “If racers get in a pinch, we will work with the local dealer to get parts in,” says Marston.
Honda's racing crew not only assists drivers of Honda vehicles, but several Honda employees have finished
on the podium at the SCCA Runoffs.
Honda has a number of engineers on the ground from Honda Performance Development, Honda America Racing Team, Team Honda Research, and Team Honda Research West. Many of the team members from Honda are also competing at the Runoffs, some of who are SCCA National Champions, giving them great insight as to what their customers may need.
• Follow all the Runoffs action live via online Timing & Scoring here: http://www.sccahost.com/sccalive/
• For detailed coverage of the 50th SCCA National Runoffs, go to scca.com/runoffs. The races can also be seen live Sept. 20-22, on www.SpeedcastTV.com.