Tomorrow marks round two of the SWVR SCCA autocross season for 2008 (our January even got cancelled due to bad weather). Yours truly will be on hand in the Legal Eagle Racing/Dead Stock Motorsports Mazdaspeed 3, looking to match last month's result.
I say that as preface to this really cool article that I overlooked in Friday's USA Today about amateur motorsports in general and Mazda-fueled autocross in particular:
Like any other working stiff, Jason Isley commutes to the office in his sporty coupe during the week.An embarrassing side note - at one event, my brother forgot to get the baby seat out of the back of his Neon before his first run. He heard a dreadful "thump" when he went 'round the first corner and thought he'd broken something expensive! It was amusing.
But come Friday, he wrestles the baby carrier out of the back seat of the Mazda RX-8, wrenches on a set of extra-grippy tires and slaps some magnetic racing numbers on the sides. Plop on a helmet, and the transformation is complete: family man to top-performing race car driver.* * *
Isley started racing in 1993 after he traded in his Pontiac Firebird for a Chevrolet Corvette. He eventually turned to a Sports Car Club of America series called autocross, which involves racing against the clock through a cone course rather than against other drivers.
Along the way, he met his future wife when she came to race her Mazda Miata in 1994. They and daughter Jessica, 2, live in the Ladera Ranch section of Orange County, Calif.
Autocross rewards driving finesse and the car's handling more than flat-out power. Isley says his wife has beaten him three times in events in which they have both participated.
As for Mazda:
Few automakers are as deeply involved with amateurs as Mazda.Zoom zoom, indeed.
'We're here to help people race,' said Robert Davis, a senior vice president for Mazda's North America operation, at a press event here last month. 'Our core values are to have as many people racing Mazdas as possible.'
Mazda claims 9,000 racers and says more of its cars zoom around road-race tracks on any given weekend than any other nameplate.