Posts tagged road america
The Ford Mustang was the original pony car back when it debuted in 1964. Designed to carry four passengers in a sporty, comfortable car that was just as stylish as it was fast. Amazingly, it’s survived the test of time, remaining one of the longest continuously produced models of any automaker in the world.
While sales have always been strong in the US, Ford made the decision to make the Mustang a global vehicle, requiring them to step up their game significantly with the 6th generation model in order to take on the best sport coupes from Europe and Japan.
In order to shine on the world stage, Ford took a clean sheet design approach to the 2015 Mustang and fitted things like independent rear suspension, a dramatically improved interior, and new engine options – including an optional turbocharged 4-cylinder for the first time since 1986 – to make this the best Mustang yet.
Late last month our own Michael Ashby took to the track in a Mazda2 TCB race car fro the Cadillac Grand Prix and Road America. We added some photos and videos when he was at the race and you can find a comprehensive race recap below.
RACE 1 – Michael Ashby \ Mazda2 TCB
Michael Ashby returned to Road America in the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 TCB racecar for the Cadillac Grand Prix at Road America. Scheduled for two races and one qualifying session, Ashby was ready to take to the track for the first time this year. With the first race results acting as the qualifying event for the 2nd race, Ashby knew he needed to perform exceptionally throughout the weekend to do well and help raise awareness for the Miracles of Mitch foundation.
The qualifying session was held Friday in the early morning which was plagued with two red flags as the track became a mess with two weather-related accidents. Only a handful of cars were able to record valid lap times, this caused Ashby to start at the 14th position.
With Race 1 and 2 on Friday, the heavy fog and rain in the morning was sure to make for an interesting day. Due to the wet track, race officials deemed a rolling start preferential instead of a typical standing start for Race 1.
As the green flag flew, Ashby sped off with hopes of a podium finish. Passing car after car it seemed like Ashby was on pace to take the lead by lap 3. Because the slick roads reduced overall speed the emphasis sided more heavily with taking the proper line allowing for better car control and more exciting racing
Midway through Race 1 Ashby’s cause was helped when two Mini Cooper’s in front of him made contact taking each other out of contention. “Sometimes the easiest passes are made due to other’s mistakes.” said Ashby. “Clearly it isn’t an ideal way to race, expecting others to crash, but motorsports racing can often be measured in inches, and if you are off by a fraction it can lead to some serious issues.”
As the race wore on, Ashby continued his charge to the front. Although the top 3 cars had distanced themselves greatly, Ashby was able to track down Austin Snader in his Fiat 500, ultimately allowing Ashby to overtake and gain the 4th position. Attempting a daring pass on the final lap as the white flag flew, Austin Snader ended up off- line where there was standing water causing him to spin multiple times. With the failed overtake attempt by Snader, Johan Schwartz, in a Honda Fit, moved up to 5th position closing in fast on Ashby. Entering Canada corner Schwartz briefly took a look to the inside, but showed good judgement by backing off rather than risk potential contact with an overzealous move. This left Ashby enough of a gap to fend off a drafting attempt up the main straight on to secure a 4th place finish.
With 10 positions gained throughout Race 1, Sunoco awarded Ashby with the Hard Charger award and was invited to the victory circle. By finishing with the 3rd fastest lap time for Race 1, Ashby earned the 3rd position for the start of Race 2.
RACE 2 – Michael Ashby / Mazda2 TCB
With the sun shining in the late afternoon and the track completely dried out, the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 was fitted with Pirelli racing slicks at the 3rd starting position. With a dry track, race officials determined a standing start was in order. After the Cadillac Pace Car led the parade lap, Ashby and his competition were staged on the flat part of the main straight. Michael was positioned next to TCB Race 1 winner, Paul Holton in his Honda Fit. As the yellow lights came on and the revs began to rise, all it took was the final red light to extinguish and they were off.
Ashby made a decent run maintaining his third position into turn 1 but was shuffled back through the long straight down to turn 5. When entering the middle of turn 5, one the the TC class Nissan Altimas was in the midst of a spin followed by a Mini Cooper. Precisely reacting and performing evasive action to avoid contact with the Mini Cooper at the driver’s door, Ashby made a clean pass leading up to the Corvette bridge. Still mired down by 6th place, Ashby went full throttle heating up the Pirelli race tires to work his way back into contention.
Ultimately, he ended up having a race long battle between Nate Stacy in the Ford Fiesta and Austin Snader in the Fiat 500. All three of them swapping positions multiple times, even during the course of a single lap. On the final lap, Nate Stacy, attempting an outbraking maneuver into turn 5 ended up sliding wide allowing Ashby to overtake him with Austin Snader following close behind. The race wasn’t quite as successful as Round 1 with Ashby finishing a hard fought 5th place.
Overall, it was a great weekend and many people enjoyed seeing a driver who was dedicated to proper race driving and raising awareness for such a worthy foundation. For more info on Miracles of Mitch, please visit
As noted in our last post, the Morrie’s Mazda2 B-Spec racer took on the competition this past weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix at Road America. The results are in for race two and Michael brought home a fifth in class finish to accompany his fourth place finish in class earlier in the day. You can catch all the action from flag to flag below.
Again, once the team makes it back to town they’ll start working on a full writeup. In the meantime check out a few pictures from the day. There is also more to come on the Bentley GT3 effort that made it’s debut over the weekend.
If you’re not familiar, we built a Mazda2 B-Spec race car a year or so ago for a good customer to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge Series as well as other races. This week the team kicked off the first race weekend of the season at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Our own Michael Ashby, Service Manager at Morrie’s Luxury Auto, is trading off behind the wheel and they first hit the track yesterday. This morning the first race kicked off and Michael Ashby brought home a strong 4th place finish in class. Results aren’t in for the second race of the day, but rest assured we’ll let you know soon.
Enjoy a few day one pictures and be sure to check back for day two pictures, an overview of the Bentley GT3 effort taking to the track there, as well as a more comprehensive race recap.
This past weekend Road America hosted both the Grand Am series and American Le Mans for a sports car double header weekend. Arguably the best race course in North America, Road America was the perfect backdrop for these races. The weekend proved that even a bout of rain showers couldn’t keep the fans and participants alike from having a great time.
As a long time Mazda dealer it was great to see Mazda running in not one, but both series. On Saturday afternoon the Grand Am sports cars and Daytona prototypes took the green flag for a two hour and forty five minutes race. No stranger to Grand Am racing, Mazda committed to running the season with their Skyactiv-D Mazda6s. A first for the series, Mazda’s diesel race car achieved it’s first win earlier this year and the two car effort came to Road America hunting for another win.
Many manufacturers view the race track as the perfect proving ground for street car innovation. Mazda is a huge proponent of this view. John M. Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports, said of the racecar, “We’ve always said that the best street cars make the best racecars, and, with more than half of the components in the race engine being shared with the street engine, this program is a solid proof-point.”
Whereas car races are typically characterize by a cacophony of V8 roars and screaming six cylinders, the Skyactiv-D Mazdas made nary a noise. With each passing lap all you heard was a rush of air from the turbo diesel, an occasional tire squeal and wind gliding over the cars sleek body. While the race was not trouble free for either team, SpeedSource’s VisitFlorida-backed Mazda6 of Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez came out on top in GX. In doing so they inched out the number 38 Porsche of Spencer Pumpelly, marking the classes closes finish in history.
The Morrie’s Mazda/Miracles Of Mitch Mazda 2 made its second appearance this past weekend. Many consider Road America to be the United States premier racetrack. With its dramatic elevation changes and technical corners, it demands the best from both driver and car. Then, stir in a couple long straights where maximum speed is obtained.
At Road America, our nimble and reliable little Mazda 2 routinely hit speeds well over one hundred miles per hour bringing home third place. This was a particularly strong finish given that it is difficult for a single car to compete against a team of several cars as they can use each other for drafting and even bump drafting.
With Michael Ashby at the wheel, the Morrie’s Mazda/Miracles Of Mitch Mazda 2 broke up their formation to finish a very strong third. An engine control unit re-flash, now available, will give us some additional horsepower and a few more RPM’s at the top end. With these modest upgrades, we will improve on these already fantastic results.