Tag Archives: global mx-5 cup car

Thanks to Mazda Owner’s Lounge at WGI during the IMSA 6hr for all the Swag!

Finally a Mazda Owner’s Lounge experience that went far better than I had ever anticipated.

I love the fact Mazda has an Owner’s Lounge at various race tracks that IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Series visits. Though in the past I’ve had somewhat tricky experiences trying to score swag that I saw other people showing off at the event. During last year’s Petit Le Mans I agreed to fill out a survey for a Mazda hat only to find out they were fresh out of hats… bummer. Similar experience this year at Long Beach Grand Prix in California (though I scored a t-shirt instead). Well, the Mazda Owner’s Lounge experience at Watkins Glen during the Sahlen’s Six Hour made up for all the other frustrating times because I walked away with a whole bag of goodies.

It wasn’t easy to get away from station to visit the lounge but I made the effort during lunch breaks to do it over a few days. First on Friday while working Turn 5A in the Bus Stop, right as it started raining I took advantage of lax security to drive up to the lounge and park right across from it. Ran in, gave my sob story about the Mazda caps I almost got at Road Atlanta and Long Beach and one of the workers there handed me one! Sweet… on the way back I asked one of the young ladies distributing lanyards if I could get a few for the marshals… she said “sure!” I thought… wait a minute, I’m going to Europe next month and it would be an awesome gift to offer the MX-5 owners I intend to meet in Amsterdam, Cologne, Brussels and Paris, told her about the trip and she gave me a fist-full. What a lovely lady! Thanks so much…!!!

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I guess I took advantage of the lull in their schedule as most of the people there were lined up to play video games or other entertainment Mazda had on offer. I’m glad it was quiet enough and they were generous enough to make me happy!

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My next trip to the Mazda Owner’s Lounge was on race day, Sunday. We had a fairly long break between the warm up session in the morning and the actual race… so I went straight for the lounge before heading to Pit Lane to take some pix of the #55 Le Mans heritage livery LMP2.

It was a perfect opportunity to finally see the split MX-5 street/Cup car which was covered previously due to rain. On race day the weather was picture perfect. And so was the car:

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On this visit I walked away with a SpeedSource Mazda LMP2 t-shirt, a few more lanyards and a poster… Very happy with their generosity!

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There were a few more happy run-ins with Mazda swag… I saw a few photographers wearing a green and orange 1991 Mazda 787B Le Mans winning car heritage lanyard and naturally I wanted one. So I asked a few photogs if they could grab me one next time they went to the Media center. A few of them agreed but realistically I knew the chances of getting one was pretty slim. Yet, I was persistent. Made a run down to the Mazda test drive display where one could sign up to drive a Mazda of their choosing (an MX-5, CX-3, CX-5, or Mazda3) along the original 6.6 mile Watkins Glen Grand Prix circuit along the city streets of the Watkins Glen Park. Those folks knew nothing about the Le Mans lanyard but gave me a small goodie bag just for stopping by… Nice!

Then I went over to chat with a few Miata owners I saw parked near my station on Saturday, while working Turn 1A… and at some point between lunch and end of day someone left another Mazda bag hanging off my car’s mirror which was parked along the spectator fence near the station. It was like getting a visit form Santa Clause.

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Thank you! (whoever you are)

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Now back to the story about how I finally scored the Le Mans green and orange lanyard… during lunch I ran over to the Mazda paddock area where the team’s #55 and #70 cars resided for the weekend, and bugged one of the folks wearing a Mazda shirt about it… the guy said: “Since you’re a corner worker, I’ll give you mine!” and took it off his neck to give it to me. Holly Cow was that something… Thank you Mo for being awesome! That was pretty cool. Mazda people will give you a shirt off their back it seems… or at least a lanyard.

A day later, while working the station at Turn 1, one of the photographers I spoke with the day earlier came thru with his promise and delivered another new lanyard to me. I totally didn’t expect for that to happen. Wow!

So much Mazda swag in one weekend I don’t think it could have gone any better. The only way this experience would have been topped is IF someone from Mazda came over and offered me a job with the company: “Hey Russ, come work for Mazda!”  of course, that didn’t happen, but that would have been a killer deal. I’ll take what I could get though, and all the swag this weekend made me quite happy. I’m sure the MX-5 owners in Europe will be thrilled too!

Thanks Mazda people!

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Mazda North American Headquarters Visit in Southern California

So the highlight of my trip to Southern California wasn’t marshaling  Long Beach Grand Prix, it was instead a side trip further south to Irvine, Orange County to visit the North American HQ of Mazda.

I can’t say I planned the trip there in advance, it sort of just happened. I was hoping to meet up with some local SoCal MX-5 Miata owners during the event but for some reason that meetup never materialized, and since I had some time to kill on Monday before the flight home I decided to do a few Miata related things. After a quick Google search I had a list of three places to try to check out if the California traffic would allow it. Mazda HQ was stop #1 (a visit to Racing Beat and Roadster Tuner followed).

While I tried not to get my hopes up for the actual visit, I was excited. I kept my expectations low because having both Mercedes-Benz of North America and BMW of North America Headquarters just minutes away from me in New Jersey I knew there wasn’t much to see there for random visitors other than an office building. But what’s the worst that could happen? Right…? I figured at the very least I’ll get to check out the lobby. And so it went, the lady at reception confirmed my speculation that there wasn’t much to see and nothing to buy in a gift shop because there wasn’t one. So I mozzied on out, took a few shots of the building, many more shots of the countless MX-5’s in the parking lot and was ready to leave.

And then as if a God-sent, I see three pristine red MX-5’s of various vintage rolling into the parking lot and heading straight for the Visitor Center… I later found out that the NA Miata in the group was the original car unveiled at the Chicago? auto show when the car was first introduced in America in 1989. There was a gorgeous Mazdaspeed NB that followed it, not sure about it’s history. But the red NC in the group was the 25th Anniversary edition of which there were only 1,000 made. I started chatting with the Mazda guys driving the cars into the building and the fella tried to stress the importance of the rarity of the NC… while I countered that I saw three or four of them show up to my little Sydney MX-5 fish & chips run just a few months ago…. how rare could they be? Ha!

It was by dumb luck that I stumbled upon these cars and the guys working there. But boy did that make my day! I shamelessly asked for some Mazda swag referring to the Long Beach Grand Prix Mazda Owner’s Lounge running out of hats by the time I was able to make it there on Sunday as an excuse, and  the guy come through… big time!  I got a whole swag bag full of key chains, lanyards, a Zoom Zoom magazine and some other trinkets and knick-knacks. Not that I actually need more of that stuff, but bringing home souvenirs like that was pretty awesome. I’m really grateful for the opportunity!

Of course I couldn’t help myself and took a million pictures:

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So for all you Mazda / Miata fans out there visiting Orange County, California thinking about a visit to the North American HQ… is it worth it? Hell yeah! Granted unless you luck out and stumble upon something similar to what I did, you’ll have a blast… on any other day though the visit may be slightly more mundane… but you never know until you go for it!

PS. after visiting Racing Beat the fella there suggested to check out the Mazda R&D facility where they store all kinds of goodies like the 787B race car…. that would have been nice to know about had I had more time to kill (and not rush for a flight!)

PPS. a few days after I got home pictures and videos surfaced on facebook from the same lobby I visited featuring a fourth vehicle… one I would have been really keen on seeing had I had the time (which I didn’t) the vehicle was the ND MX-5 RF targa prototype… D’oh!!!!