Question: What do the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari have in common?
Answer: They all compete in a global racing series.
At least the latter three do right now in a race series called Formula 1.
The Miata will…but not until the 2016 race season, however.
Plans are being made now for a Global MX-5 Cup that will see multiple race series for identically-prepared 4th-generation Mazda MX-5 Miatas in different countries around the world. The national champions will meet for the 2016 Global Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., to crown the series champion.
There will be trophies, of course, but the grand prize for the series champion will be a one-day test in Mazda’s top-level TUDOR United States SportsCar Championship SKYACTIV prototype racecar.
“Since the first Mazda MX-5 Miata took the green flag back in 1990, the car has been the ideal platform for both veterans and rookies alike,” said John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American operations, in a prepared statement at the 2014 SEMA show in Las Vegas. “Because the MX-5 is inherently such a good car to drive, it is an ideal platform to learn basic and advanced race-craft, and this has made the professional MX-5 Cup series very successful to date.”
Mazda has sponsored an MX-5 Cup series in the U.S., and this new series will take the series to the rest of the world.
Beginning this winter, Mazda Motorsports, Mazda’s competition arm, will begin a development program to select the optimum tires, suspension and powertrain and safety modifications. Final specifications will be announced next year when Mazda is ready to accept orders for the 2016 series.
Mazda has not released final specifications, equipment or technical partners for the car, but has confirmed that the Global MX-5 Cup racecar will be equipped with a 2.0 liter SKYACTIV-G four cylinder engine.
The cars will be produced by a single constructor, with the engines “sealed” and the cars sold “ready to race.” Truly identical cars will keep costs down and provide a level playing field for competitors.
One point of contention is whether the cars will with only a rollcage or with a hardtop in place. According to Mazda Motorsports spokesman Dean Case, “There are fans of both. Many like to watch the drivers in action.”
Mazda claims to be the most-raced car in the United States, and they will maximize the exposure of the Miata MX-5 Cup as a support race with different race series. Said Case, “We can’t speak to the non-U.S. schedules, but here in the states we race on major IMSA, Indycar, and NASCAR weekends. I just issued the 2015 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires on Monday [November 11]. I would anticipate a similar schedule in 2016.”
What happens to the current MX-5 Cup racecars when the new series begins in 2016? Case says they “will land in SCCA T4 in current trim, and can be modified to race in other classes.”
How the cars will get from their home countries—or whether spec cars will be used for the finale is yet to be decided, as is whether the championship will return to Laguna Seca or be held in other countries in subsequent years.
Hey, it works for Formula 1.