Mazda North American Operations and Mazda Motorsports recently hosted a local media “Drive At The Track” at the M1 Concourse for a select group of journalists and other influencers. Proudly named after America’s first highway, M1 Concourse is a brand new motorsport facility located roughly 30 minutes outside of Detroit in Pontiac, MI.
There were four new Mazda Miata MX-5 Cup race cars on hand. Four of Mazda’s Prototype Team drivers, Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito, Tom Long and Joel Miller, who will be racing on Belle Isle on June 3 during the Detroit Grand Prix, were there to tutor attendees on the basics of track driving and also be a passenger, through the 1.5 mile road course. The drivers also took the time to for some hot laps to give the real thrill of what it’s like on the track.
John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports was also there to guide attendees through their motorsports program and give them a full briefing with a behind the scenes look at the MX-5 Cup race car. Attendees had the opportunity to drive on the track or on a selected route around the area in Mazda’s full line of vehicles including the all-new CX-5 and MX-5 Miata RF.
On site was the Mazda RT24-P prototype which will be at the Detroit Grand Prix, as well as a Mazda-powered Indy Lights open-wheel race car and a Spec Miata!
I was not able to attend this event, thankfully our newest Five Dollar Shake contributor Andy was there to cover it. Below is a write-up on Andy’s exciting experience on the track.
Miata is always the answer.
Whenever someone asks, “What is the best all-around drivers’ car,” Miata will always come up in the conversation. So imagine my delight when I was invited to visit the new M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan to ride along in, and actually drive one of the new MX-5 Cup race cars.
Out on the track, four of Mazda’s factory professional racing drivers were waiting to shuttle passengers around the 1.5 mile road course in a new MX-5 Cup car. Before we go any further, let me explain that these are full blown race-ready cars. This isn’t a fancy trim package or special edition car. An MX-5 cup car comes with a roll cage, stripped out interior, fire suppression system, racing suspension and certified powertrain components that allow you to immediately hit the track. The only thing missing when you purchase your $58,900 Miata is a seat. Since most racing seats are custom tailored to the driver, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
After a tub or two of Crisco, I was able to grease my 6’3” body into the incredibly tight passenger seat of the Mazda for my introductory laps. The driver was clearly having fun with his other buddies while showing off the car’s capabilities. Eventually the cars were brought back into the pits, and I was given the opportunity to strap in behind the wheel and drive.
Yes, drive. I GET TO DRIVE A REAL RACE CAR!! #RickyBobby
After the first lap on track, we rotated positions and I was now immediately following the lead pace car. I think the driver saw the red mist in my eyes and decided to speed up a little. Judging by the occasional drifts, I’d say the lead driver was having as much fun as I was behind him. We kept this lead-follow pace for the next three or four laps before coming back into the pits.
At this time, we were given the opportunity to drive one of the street/production cars around the track… but I made it clear that I wanted to go back out in the cup car! Fortunately for me, Mazda professional driver Joel Miller agreed to lead me around the track in one of the other cup cars. It was another game of lead and follow, but this time Joel had the same fully prepared race car that I was driving. No more tire smoking drifts; this boy meant business.
We made another four laps at a very brisk pace before eventually catching up with slower traffic. Even through the full-face helmet, everyone back in the pits could clearly see that I was grinning from ear to ear.
After finishing my second session of hot-laps, I thanked the entire Mazda team for letting me thrash their cars for a few laps.
So in the end, Miata WAS indeed the answer to… I dunno, I already forgot the question! I’m too busy smiling.