Formula Mazda is to the United States what Formula Renault is to Europe – a highly competitive feeder series for aspiring drivers looking to progress through the ranks. The racing is hard, fast and fierce, and no prisoners are taken. Brazen moves and bold ambitions combine to produce some brilliant action, as every driver in the field does their hardest to make their dreams of Indy Cars or Formula 1 come true.
The series grew out of a Mazda based open-wheeler designed and built in Japan for America’s Jim Russell Racing School. The original car uses a steel tube chassis, running a 180bhp carbureted Mazda Rotary engine, with drive sent through a 5-speed H-pattern Hewland transaxle. The engines are sealed, and there are no freedoms permitted in any of the chassis or suspension components – spec racing in its purest form.
In 2004, the series spawned what’s known as ‘Pro Mazda’, a higher championship for more highly developed and faster versions of the original Formula Mazda concept. These cars have a full F1-like carbon tub, a 6-speed sequential transaxle, and a 250bhp version of the Renesis Rotary found in the RX-8. The new cars have more aero, and an Ohlins suspension system that gives competitions more scope for suspension tuning and adjustment – the perfect lessons that any new driver needs as they get to grips with serious racing cars.
Of course, the Pro Mazda cars are also accordingly more expensive, and like many feeder series, it costs several hundred thousand pounds to run a season. This means that there is still space for both championships to operate side-by-side, and the original Formula Mazda class is still popular with the grassroots competitors.
Being rotaries, the cars pop some brilliant flames under braking. The racing is close, and here we share some of our favourite clips from both Formula Mazda and Pro Mazda series.