Team Sahlen: Building upon the MAZDASPEED Driver Development Program The MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Program is the model by which all manufacturers should model their motorsports involvement. Up-and-coming race drivers have two...
Team Sahlen: Building upon the MAZDASPEED Driver Development Program
The MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Program is the model by which all manufacturers should model their motorsports involvement.
Up-and-coming race drivers have two major challenges: winning on the track, and finding the resources to move up to the next level. Mazda in conjunction with series corporate partners has been making the second task significantly easier for up and coming racers. Since 2006, Mazda has provided next-level, fully-funded rides in a Mazda-powered car to champions in such series as the Playboy MX-5 Cup and the Star Mazda Championship.
The Grand American series based Team Sahlen has been a part of the MAZDASPEED racing family for over a decade, dating as far back as 1993. Through the years, the team has worked hard to give up and coming drivers the opportunity to excel and rise to the next level. Two drivers that benefited from this assistance include brothers Wayne & Will Nonnamaker.
"I truly appreciate the opportunity that MAZDASPEED has provided my brother and myself through the years. They have been a great supporter for both of us. As a young aspiring racer, Mazda was there for me as I pushed into the professional ranks of sports car racing. Through their support, I was able to get that push and get recognized, eventually being awarded the Rising Star Award in 1996, and the 1999 class champions in the IMSA Endurarance Championship and Motorola Cup, respectively. We were able to accomplish this because MAZDASPEED believed in us and supported us." -- shares Will Nonnamaker
Wayne Nonnamaker had similar thoughts noting, "I remember being a college student at Miami University, trying to get my feet into racing. Through MAZDASPEED's support in 1997, I was able capture the SCCA NEOHIO Region SSA title, and qualify for the SCCA National Runnoffs while campaigning a Mazda MX-6. And now I find myself racing in the ROLEX GT class in a SpeedSource built Mazda RX-8 paired with former Indy Car driver Memo Gidley. That is a dream come true, and all because of MAZDASPEED's ongoing support of grassroots motorsports and young up and coming drivers."
John Doonan, Team Development manager for MAZDASPEED shared "The Team Sahlen racing heritage with Mazda dates a long ways back. We were pleased to have them rejoin us in 2007. They are key members of the MAZDASPEED family in the ROLEX Sports Car Series, with three Mazda RX-8s, and the Continental Tire Challenge Series, with a MAZDASPEED3. In particular, Wayne Nonnamaker is a great example of what our driver development program is all about. Even though he started with MAZDASPEED 13 years ago, at 32 years of age, he is still a very young driver, who will be racing with us in the ROLEX series again in 2011. We know that Wayne and Team Sahlen will be key to the Mazda goal of winning back-to-back GT Manufacturer's Titles."
"MAZDASPEED's support of such drivers as Wayne and Will Nonnamaker through the years is a tribute to Mazda's dedication to the sport. We at Team Sahlen are proud to have been a part of the Driver Development Program through the past decade. And we look forward to the years to come as we work with MAZDASPEED to bring on the next fresh batch of young talent into the world of Professional Sports Car Racing." -- states Joe Sahlen
-source: team sahlen