MONTEREY, Calif. – So this weekend is a thing involving Mazda. A lot of Mazdas. And a lot of drivers from around the world drive a lot of those Mazdas.
Some 82 Mazda-powered entries were split among the five series competing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend, between the full complement of Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, the Mazda-powered IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tires series and the non-points Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Invitational.
There’s also 21 countries that have been a part of these championships this year, although not necessarily all of them are represented this weekend.
On Friday, following the day of practice for all these series, one of John Dean II’s No. 16 Sick Sideways Racing Global MX-5 Cup cars and Santiago Urrutia’s No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian Dallara IL-15 Mazda were present at the base of pit in, both adorned in the Soul Red colors of Mazda, with most (if not all) of the competitors planning to compete this weekend.
Countries featured include (lower row from left to right is U.S. to Puerto Rico; top row from left to right is China to UAE):
- United States
- Great Britain
- South Korea
- Puerto Rico
- United Arab Emirates
Most of the drivers were holding their native country’s signs, although there were a couple humorous exceptions – TJ Fischer held the Norwegian flag since Ayla Agren isn’t racing this weekend (although she is on site), and Clark Toppe held the Malaysian flag in the back row, since Weiron Tan has been out of the championship since Barber.
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.