The series, now dubbed "Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda," will compete with the cars of the Champ Car World Series on 12 street circuit and permanent road course race weekends throughout North America. All 2006 events will be broadcast on SPEED Channel and Mazda will help sponsor both Atlantic and Champ Car race broadcasts as part of the new agreement.
An influx of new teams and the top rising stars in open-wheel racing will add to the excitement of the new-generation Atlantic Championship. The MZR engine was designed by Mazda, and is produced both in Hiroshima, Japan and Hermosillo, Mexico. It is used in the company’s MAZDA3, MAZDA5, MAZDA6, MAZDASPEED6, Tribute and B-Series, as well as the Ford Focus, Escape, Fusion and Ranger. "Adding the Atlantic series to the Mazda portfolio is the perfect addition to our open-wheel racing ladder: drivers can start in Club Racing in the steel-chassis rotary-powered Formula Mazda, graduate to the next level in the carbon-fiber-tub professional Formula Mazda, and then to the Mazda-powered Atlantic at the top rung," said Robert Davis, MNAO’s senior vice president, product development and quality, and the man responsible for Mazda’s North American motorsports programs.
Mazda’s racing heritage goes back to the 1968 Marathon de la Route, a grueling 84-hour endurance race, where a Mazda Cosmo 110-S finished in fourth place. Since then, Mazda or Mazda-powered vehicles have visited victory circle in virtually every major race or racing series around the globe, including road-racing, rallying, drag racing, sprint cars, autocross and drifting. Mazda’s greatest motorsport victory was the winning of the 1991 24-Hours of Le Mans, the only Japanese manufacturer in history to ever achieve such a feat, despite the efforts of other larger and better-funded companies. "We are delighted to welcome Mazda to the Atlantic family," said Vicki O’Connor, managing director of the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.
"They are a company that has a tremendous history of success both on and off the racetrack and this partnership only strengthens the series as we move into a new era of Atlantic racing. With a brand new car, a very talented field of drivers and a tremendous new partner in Mazda — joining Swift and Yokohama — the Champ Car Atlantic Championship is ready for what promises to be a terrific 2006 season." As the Champ Car organization itself continues to grow in strength and reach for the 2006 season, Mazda ’s involvement with the Atlantic series will give the company an opportunity to showcase its full lineup of stylish and spirited street cars to an entirely new audience.
"Mazda is not only joining the Atlantic series but also the entire Champ Car organization with today’s announcement," added Steve Johnson, Champ Car president and CEO. "We are pleased to have a company with Mazda’s racing heritage partner with Champ Car and we look forward to building not only a great racing relationship but also a strong business partnership." On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. Mazda ’s motorsport involvement even extends to the nation’s premier road-racing circuit, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States.
Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide. Beginning its 33rd season in 2006, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition, producing past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ron nie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates, along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. Competing in newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, 2006 competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion’s bonus.