With the goal of providing close racing in affordable cars from a variety of manufacturers, Honda and Mazda jointly announced the formation of “B-Spec” showroom stock racing at the Performance Racing Industry show in Orlando, Fla.
Honda Performance Development, the racing arm of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, the performance division of Mazda North American Operations, today unveiled their entries for the proposed new low-cost B-Spec, developed from the MAZDA2 and Honda Fit.
“A cornerstone of our grass-roots motorsports initiative has been to establish a connection between Honda's passenger cars and the racing cars which evolve from these models," said Marc Sours, general manager of HPD. "The B-Spec category provides a relatively low-cost means for the prospective racer to enter the sport, and the Honda Fit offers a natural point of entry. These are inexpensive, great-handling cars that should provide both excellent competition and help grow the sport at the entry level.”
B-Spec refers to all cars meeting a common set of rules that can be adopted by any race circuit or sanctioning organization. Together, Honda and Mazda solicited an independent body to develop a set of vehicle specifications that will be available for all to use – the motorsports equivalent of “freeware.” The final rules should be ready for release within 60 days.
One of the fastest-growing segments of the automobile business, B-segment cars are among the most affordable, and enjoy great support from younger demographics. In addition to the MAZDA2 and the Honda Fit, the category includes the Chevrolet Aveo, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris.
Two prototypes for the class – a MAZDASPEED-run MAZDA2 and a Honda Fit, prepared and entered by Team Honda Research-West – debuted at last weekend's 25 Hours of Thunderhill season-ending NASA endurance racing contest in Willows, Calif.
Designed to be an entry-level category, B-Spec cars will feature showroom stock racing cars utilizing stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, racing seat and other safety equipment; and manufacturer-approved suspension components, tires and wheels. Weight distribution will be used to balance performance among competing manufacturers.
The manufacturers will use an independent third party to homologate competing cars and provide equalized specifications to any interested sanctioning bodies or racetracks. A racer who builds a B-Spec car will be able to race the same car across multiple sanctioning bodies by simply changing the sanctioning-body decals. Only homologated OEM models will be eligible within the rules.
This is intended to be a grass-roots class of racing, and at present, there are no plans for a B-Spec professional series.
Jeff Dahnert, SCCA president and CEO, said: “We're very intrigued by the collaboration of Honda and Mazda on a common rule set for these subcompact market cars. It's often perceived that manufacturers are seeking any advantage possible over their competition, but this effort is proof that rivals can work together toward a common goal – one that will likely be attractive to many of SCCA's members. We look forward to seeing these cars in National competition in 2012.”
Jerry Kunzman, executive director of NASA, added, “NASA supports the OEMs in their endeavor to create a multi-manufacturer race class for the new B category cars like the MAZDA2 and the Honda Fit. A tightly controlled rule set which will control costs and limit modifications will make this a drivers' class and help expose this new segment of vehicles. This is in line with the NASA goals of making racing as affordable as possible to draw even more participants.”
In addition to the four confirmed participants, others have been involved in the discussion with an eye to joining the B-Spec ranks in 2011 or 2012. Ron Stukenberg, Senior Manager, Motorsports, Nissan North America noted that “Nissan Motorsports is very interested in the B Spec program and is closely evaluating it for possible future Versa entrants. The concept of cost-effective, entry-level sedan racing is certainly a great way to hone a driver's motor-racing skills and hearkens back to the days of our involvement with the BRE 510. In the next few months, Nissan Motorsports should be in a position to finalize our intentions in this new class.”