Tag Archives: Nissan

Northeast Grand Prix IMSA at Lime Rock the debrief

It’s been a while since I’ve done the Northeast GP at Lime Rock… last year I was marshaling in Europe with my triple event schedule in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. A year before that I did something else, and the year before that the Northeast GP was quite good! There were prototypes racing. There was lots of action. There were lots of incidents and lots of opportunity to blue flag. This time around though the pace of the event slowed way down. Dare I say it was quite boring on the first day which was disappointing.

Luckily there were Miata’s racing… so I kept myself entertained!

The station assignment for Friday was at post 6A or more traditionally called Bridge… where absolutely nothing happened.

I did enjoy the company of my fellow flag marshal there, so we made it through the day… the only excitement came from us getting sprayed by big clouds of dust as a few cars ran wide out of the previous corner…

The next day though things picked up tremendously. I was posted in Turn 2 for the first time (I don’t remember if it was my first time ever, or certainly in a very long time, which was very exciting!). There was lots of potential at this turn because at most other events when I’m somewhere else, you can always hear Turn 2 calling in incidents. Of course I became the anti-magnet today, and absolutely nothing interesting happened. We had a few bumps. There were some spins before us and a few after us, but nothing noteworthy.

It was very close to the track and a great place to be a spectator.

Poor Miata… knocked out of 3rd place with a broken mouth:

But being so close to the paddock meant we could wander into pit lane for grid walk… and that’s exactly what I did!

The event was rather crowded, which was super awesome to see… but I don’t know if the GT-alone racing series lived up to the expectations… they certainly left me wanting for more. The IMSA races used to be some of the fastest cars that came to LRP, I’m not sure if the same could be said in it’s current form.

Maybe that’s why the Turner car had a BS-looking sponsor:

What’s the deal with Tacos anyway?

But anyway… looking back at the weekend I have to say that the initial feeling of boredom become overcome with a “it’s not so bad” attitude and ultimately, “this is a pretty good event.”

I certainly enjoyed the Miata’s racing and winning. This was the major difference comparing it to PWC event earlier in the year where the MX-5’s qualified well but faltered during the races.

So congrats to Freedom Autosport! And to the other Miata teams that didn’t do so well but put on a great show nonetheless…

Interesting that the headsets we used were Made in Australia!

And best of all every night the LRP Cafe took care of the workers with a tasty meal. So thank you Skip Barber for that!

Mazda Badge Engineering or… Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM)

Leaving the restaurant after celebrating my dad’s birthday my sister noticed a new Fiat 124 Spider in the parking lot and commented: “Hey, that’s a nice Miata!”

Funny that…

I explained the concept of Fiata to her and thought it would be an excellent topic to research and share in this blog. I like Mazda’s. I like their badge engineering efforts with other major companies. And having lived in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia I’ve been exposed to some of their other popular OEM agreements with Ford primarily, but also Suzuki, Nissan and most currently Toyota.

So here’s my attempt at explaining some of the “shared” platforms between Mazda and others.


Mazda & Fiat

Mazda Roadster / Mazda MX-5 – Fiat 124 Spider / Abarth 124 Spider

This is my favorite tie up because obviously the MX-5 started my relationship with Mazda and at some point I would love to buy a Fiat just for variety’s sake.


Mazda & Ford

Mazda BT-50 – Mazda B-series – Ford Ranger

Mazda Tribute – Ford Escape

I almost bought a Ford Escape once to replace our family’s aging Ford Explorer. Tribute would have been an option before I decided to focus my search on CX-7 & CX-5

Ford owned a big chunk of Mazda so there were lots of badge engineered vehicles. They go so far back I can’t even find pretty pictures to display here, so I’ll just list them all:

  • Ford Escape – Mazda Tribute
  • Ford Explorer – Mazda Navajo
  • Ford Courier – Mazda B-series
  • Ford Ranger – Mazda BT-50
  • Ford Probe – Mazda MX-6
  • Ford Fiesta – Mazda Soho (Africa)
  • Ford Fiesta – Mazda 121 (Europe)
  • Ford Fiesta – Mazda 2
  • Ford Fiesta – Mazda Demio
  • Ford i-MAX – Mazda 5
  • Ford i-MAX – Mazda Premacy
  • Ford Ixion – Mazda Premacy
  • Ford MAV – Mazda Premacy

 

Mazda Demio – Mazda2 – Ford Fiesta

Mazda Premacy – Mazda5 – Ford Ixion – Ford MAV

Mazda Premacy – Mazda5 – Ford i-MAX

It’s worth noting that Mazda uses different model names based on the market. Therefore a Demio is also Mazda2 which replaced Mazda 121 of the past.


Mazda & Toyota

Mazda Demio – Mazda2  – Scion iA – Toyota Yaris iA

This is the most recent relationship with the world’s largest car manufacturer which started off as a Scion brand that Toyota decided to fold into the parent company and now it’s the Yaris replacement. An odd scenario considering how many Yaris & Echo’s Toyota sold on it’s own over the past many years of making the little cars. Why outsource this production to Mazda now?


Mazda & Suzuki

Mazda AZ-1 / Autozam AZ-1 / Suzuki Cara

The Suzuki – Mazda relationship stretches back many generations. Including their famous AZ-1 / Cara project which was marketed under Mazda’s Autozam nameplate. Besides Autozam Mazda also launched Eunos which was originally one to market the Roadster in Japan known as MX-5 Miata everywhere else. Amati and efini brands which were meant to be the luxury divisions of Mazda much like Lexus was to Toyota, Acura to Honda or Infiniti to Nissan. Ford had it’s Lincoln brand and Cadillac did the trick for GM long before.

The list of Mazda – Suzuki mini-micro kei car collaborations:

  • Suzuki Every Wagon – Autozam Scrum – Mazda Scrum
  • Suzuki  Carry – Autozam Scrum – Mazda Scrum
  • Suzuki Wagon R – Autozam AZ Wagon – Mazda AZ Wagon
  • Suzuki Kei – Mazda Laputa
  • Suzuki Alto – Mazda Carol
  • Suzuki Lapin – Mazda Spiano
  • Suzuki Jimmy – Mazda AZ Offroad
  • Suzuki Vitara – Mazda Proceed Levante
  • Suzuki Ertiga – Proton Ertiga – Mazda VX-1

 

Autozam Scrum – Mazda Scrum – Suzuki Every Wagon

Autozam Scrum – Mazda Scrum – Suzuki Carry

Autozam AZ Wagon – Mazda AZ Wagon – Suzuki Wagon R

Mazda Laputa – Suzuki Kei 

Mazda Carol – Suzuki Alto

Mazda Carol – Suzuki Alto

Mazda Spiano – Suzuki Lapin

Mazda Spiano – Suzuki Lapin

Mazda AZ Offroad – Suzuki Jimmy

Mazda Proceed Levante – Suzuki Vitara

Mazda Proceed Levante – Suzuki Vitara

Mazda VX-1 ~ Suzuki Ertiga ~ Proton Ertiga

I could be wrong but it seems to me that Mazda rebadged every Suzuki made on the Japanese market. Which is interesting…


Mazda & Nissan

 Mazda Premacy – Mazda5 – Nissan Lafesta Highway STAR

Mazda Bongo – Nissan Vanette

Mazda Bongo – Nissan Vanette Truck

Mazda Familia Van – Nissan AD Expert

The Mazda Nissan relationship seems very interesting in that Mazda builds the Lafesta minivan for Nissan, along with the commercial Bongo rebadged to Nissan’s Vanette models. But Nissan provides the rebadged AD Expert marketed by Mazda as a Familia Van… Mazda’s Familia in Japan is marketed as Mazda 323, Mazda Protegé and more recently Mazda3 or Mazda Axela and none of the Mazda models look anything like the Nissan version… but, whatever works!


Mazda & Kia

Mazda Sentia – Kia Enterprise

This luxobarge was a rebadged Mazda for the Korean market before Kia/Huyndai started getting all fancy with their own big car designs.

Besides this product there was also Kia Pride which was a rebadged Ford Festiva just like Mazda 121 and Mazda Soho.


Mazda & Holden

This is going way back but Mazda used to sell Australian Holden’s in Japan as Mazda Roadpacer – rebadged from Holden Premier. Apparently Holden shipped the whole car minus an engine where Mazda shoved a rotary under the hood and put it on the market. It was not terribly successful.

 


Mazda & Isuzu

The next Mazda pick-up truck will be a rebadged Isuzu. Currently Isuzu and GM have a partnership where Isuzu’s rebadged D-Max trucks sell as Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.

 

I will update this page as I find more Mazda collaborations out there.

Post Card from the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway

Did not think I’d go back to Daytona, until I saw all the entries for the 2017 IMSA season… wow! The new DPi programs are in full effect. There are several GTE and GT3 machines with new manufacturers. I had to be here. Not once but twice… Not just for the 24 hour race at the end of January… but the Roar before the 24 in the beginning of the month.

Here are some pix from Turn 4, working with my good friend John Gamble:

Pretty impressive line up in the GT field:

  • Aston Martin Vantage (GTD)
  • Acura NSX (GTD)
  • BMW M6 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Corvette C7.R (GTLM)
  • Ferrari 488 (GTLM & GTD)
  • Ford GT (GTLM)
  • Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (GTD)
  • Lexus IS-F (GTD)
  • Mercedes-AMG SLS (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD)
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GTLM)

The prototype field is also expanded with new Cadillac DPi replacing the familiar Corvette Daytona Prototypes. Mazda has a new skin, but a very similar engine sound to the old Lola. Lots of Orecas, a few Ligier Nissans, etc.

In the Continental Tire support group the McLaren GT4 is really balancing out the Porsche Cayman GT4 dominance.

More pix from the pit walk:

And some shots from Station 4:

And a delicious pizza dinner with the Gambles Friday night:

Looking forward to the rest of the weekend even if Saturday is supposed to be very wet…. more to come!

A Challenge to the SuperGT Organizers to Accept a non-Japanese Marshal for One of Their Events

Why don’t some countries allow foreign marshals to participate in their events, when they clearly allow and promote foreign driver participation in the same events?

I want to marshal a SuperGT race in Japan.

And yet, the few contacts I’ve made in Japan at various circuits seem set against it to allow foreigners to marshal with the Japanese.

The photo above came from an article where the SuperGT (GTA) boss Masaaki Bandoh issued a challenge to WEC organizers to have three teams race their GT500 cars at the Fuji 6 hour event. The GT500 cars from SuperGT look far more GT-like than the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes in the Word Endurance Championship series. According to the article the GT500’s are quicker than the pace set by the Audi R18 eTron, though slower than the Toyota or Porsche hybrids, but faster than the privateer teams like Rebellion LMP1’s. Anyhow, the quickness of the GT500 cars is irrelevant to the fact that the Japanese circuits I contacted only allow Japanese speakers to participate/volunteer in their events. Why not? Surely the multitude of foreign drivers many of them English speakers (but others whether French or German are still more likely to speak English then Japanese) don’t actually speak Japanese should they crash and need to interact with the local marshals.

Mr. Bandoh apparently didn’t stop with the challenges there, he issued another challenge to the German manufacturers to step up their game in the GT500 field (they currently participate in the GT300 field with GT3-spec machinery like the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS, BMW Z4 GT3 or the Porsche 911 GT3). And the manufacturers are expected to comply, according to the article. Why not open up the doors to the opportunity for foreign travelling marshals to volunteer at Suzuka, or Montegi, or Fuji? It’d make perfect sense to me and plenty of other people too. I’m sure we’d all take the Japanese Automobile Federation up on their offer to work with our Japanese colleagues like we do with our German colleagues, or our French colleagues, or our Australian colleagues, etc.

I don’t speak many languages of the countries I’ve volunteered at. In Belgium French is the official language of the circuit, but many of the marshals, including many Belgians, speak Flemish. There were plenty of Dutch marshals there too. Plenty of Brits. Plenty of Czech’s, etc. I’m sure most of them don’t speak French but we all got along nicely and worked professionally as expected. I didn’t speak French working at Le Mans. I didn’t speak German working at the Nurburgring. French was one of the official languages in Canada even though the other official language was English. I didn’t speak fluent Singlish to work the Singapore GP. Definitely didn’t speak Bahasa Malaysia working at the Sepang Circuit. Or Korean working in South Korea. Point being, I don’t speak most of the foreign languages at places I have volunteered successfully. But I did my job the way I was supposed to, and I would love to return to work there again and again.

The excuse that the local language is required to work an event isn’t valid, and it’s a shame that the Japanese circuits I contacted use. Surely there are some marshals there who speak some English and I would partner up with to work under their supervision and some translation when necessary.

I suspect that the reason we get rejected as foreign marshals is that the Japanese organizers don’t want to babysit a foreigner. It’s a lot easier to say “NO!” than to accept a marshal and than have to worry about a myriad of questions like where that person should stay (lodging), how he should get to the track (transportation), what that person must eat and how prepared he should be (food). Communication in general. Following the dress code. Having a helmet that fits. etc. It’s much harder to say “YES!”

But I wish they would.

If there is anyone in Japan that would help me facilitate my wish to volunteer at one of the SuperGT events at Fuji, Montegi, Suzuka or any other track, please get in touch. I would probably need your help translating the application (and the whole process indeed). Some advice about transportation getting to the track, on time. Where to eat, where to sleep, etc. It would be most helpful!

One day I will do SuperGT… it’s at the top of my wish list,  like DTM!

 

Link to the quoted article: http://www.racecar-engineering.com/news/super-gt-challenges-lmp1-dtm-to-fuji-showdown/

DeltaWing @ Petit Le Mans

One of the coolest cars in the line up this Petit Le Mans was undoubtedly the DeltaWing. Designed but rejected for IndyCar series, funded by a big name in NASCAR/Grand Am: Chip Ganassi, with input from Don Panoz of American Le Mans fame, the car is like nothing else on the track today. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeltaWing) It made its debut in the 24hr of Le Mans this year, crashed out… then crashed out again in Petit Le Mans practice. But once it finally raced in the 10 hour enduro it sparcled, finishing 5th overall!
Looking forward to seeing it again next year!

PS. the part where he says they would have been leading the race had they got passarounds and such, is absolutely true. The car ran very strong.