Our 2018 Media Days had a few challenges this year including calendar timing and a bit of light precipitation the first driving day, but the sun returned at Laguna Seca for track evaluation and the venerable event was another hit for journalists and automakers. Continue reading
From the Beach to Valley to Track
The 25th Annual Media Days was a hit for all participants.
By Brian Douglas
We’ve come quite a distance from our organization’s modest beginnings. Back in 1992, the models of new vehicles outnumbered journalists, a third of whom were full-time media employees reporting on the automotive industry. Our fledgling event was one full day at Sears Point (now Sonoma) Raceway. Media Day became Days in ’94 when a day of driving in the Marin countryside was added. Some things never change- a big hit on the track in 1992 was Acura’s new NSX. History repeated itself this year with the all-new NSX winding around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Continue reading
Word went out in late December that Dean Case of Mazda Motorsports would be hosting a Media Lunch at the Silicon Valley Auto Show in San Jose on Thursday January 5th to present the idea that there is a “local story” everywhere Mazda owners race their cars. The Auto Show features two Bay Area Mazda Racers that reinforce that premise. Mark Drennan, “the guy you don’t want to see in your rear view mirror” and Telo Stewart, Owner, World Speed Motorsports. The Sonoma-based World Speed team is known for putting Mazda drivetrains in just about anything and making them competitive.
As Barry Toepke, Maestro of the Monterey Reunion and Brad Littlefield new public relations Manager for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were expected to be in attendance, there was a chance that we might learn the latest status in the ongoing challenge for the operation of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Dean Case, started the introductions by letting his audience of about two dozen journalists know that Mazda owners race their cars in 46 of the 50 states and, with his usual wry smile, that he was interested in seeing what could be done about the missing four. With a miniscule 2% market share on the road, 55% of ALL Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) entries are either Spec Mazda or Mazda-powered, with the Mazda Teen Challenge being one of the most fiercely competitive classes in racing. Dean admitted that Mazda sold millions in racing parts in 2016 and that Mazda had poured $1 million into payouts for club racing level prize money.
It was really interesting to learn that the engine in the World Speed Mazda Formula Cars were standard MZR production engines with zero internal changes. Only a changed ECU, exhaust and intake yield maximum performance with maximum longevity for a dependable 200 horsepower in the sealed engines assembled by famed builder Hasselgren Engineering of Berkeley. These engines typically go 3,000 miles compared to the significantly more costly Formula Atlantic engines that are anticipated to go 2,000 miles between rebuilds. One MRZ, Dean said, had still not been cracked open with 11,000 racing miles clocked on it.
Dean added a funny story about some consternation concerning a scion of the famed Brabham family being sent out in a car, winning eight races and a championship, only to be informed after the fact that he had been given a car with a used engine! Speaking of the Teen Mazda Challenge Dean stated: “We want the series that we support to be affordable. We encourage our drivers to put advertisements for non-profits on their cars.” He suggested Mazda racers race with passion and support their passions. Dean talked about Mazda support of the SPCA for Monterey County, Project Yellow Light, and mentioned that Mazda racer Sarah Montgomery was working with Lemons of Love.
We heard from Telo about Mazda-powered Formula Cars, the Mazda Challenge Race and the Mazda Road to Indy, setting up farm teams and several levels of competition to create a feeder series for American race car drivers who dream of Indy.
Barry Toepke introduced Brad Littlefield, the new PR Manager for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and spoke about the 60th Anniversary/Diamond Jubilee of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (which was opened in 1957). We also got to meet Mark Drennan a 50-year-old rookie who lead six races and won two in 2016. We also met Marissa Borjon, the new Mazda Western Regional PR person.
Dean kept us on schedule with a light-hearted touch and gave us a tour and walk-around of the Mazda booth and two race vehicles on display after the lunch. It was a great event, well-attended and what is probably the first of what might turn into a Mazda roadshow that will criss-cross the country shining a bright light on Mazda’s amazing footprint in the American racing scene.
WAJ now accepts all major credit cards and PayPal online for all events.
Simply click on the Pay Now button.
Which will direct you to the payment screen.
If you wish to pay with PayPal, simply log into your PayPal account in the top screen. If you wish to pay by debit or credit card, (WAJ accepts, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and Bank Debit cards), click on the “Pay with a debit or credit card, or PayPal credit.” It’s that simple, safe and secure.
Of course you can still pay by check at the door. Just click on the “Pay by Check or at the Door” button.
Western Automotive Journalists event a big hit in the center of West Coast automotive technology.
By Brian Douglas
For the last six years, WAJ has produced an automotive technology conference, gathering journalists, automakers and technology experts together with car demonstrations and informative panels. Two years ago, we elected to ramp up our conference, moving to The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, a venue with a central location and first class meeting and display space. Continue reading
Hart brings a wealth of experience to the Monterey circuit, having most recently served as director of communications for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) that runs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series, which is Mazda Raceway’s opening race May 1-3.
“David’s deep knowledge of the media and sport will provide an immediate impact in our ongoing public relations initiatives,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “We are extremely fortunate that David is coming aboard at the start of what will be one of our finest racing seasons in recent years.”
Prior to his stint with IMSA, Hart worked with the 8Star Motorsports GRAND-AM team. He also spent 15 years at Richard Childress Racing (RCR) where he led competition communications for the team before taking the role of director, corporate communications, overseeing strategic communications for many of Richard Childress’ business ventures and outdoor conservation activities.
Hart previously held management positions with Sonoma Raceway, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the Cotter Group, where he managed sponsor communication activities in NASCAR and NHRA.
“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the great motorsports venues of the world so it’s an honor to help continue its unmatched legacy,” said Hart. “I’m fortunate to have worked with some very successful organizations and am confident being a member of Gill’s team will add to that list.”
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s major event season features the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, powered by Mazda (TUDOR United SportsCar Championship), May 1-3; eni FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round, July 17-19; Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 13-16; Pirelli World Challenge, September 11-13; and Porsche Rennsport Reunion V, September 25-27.
For more information and ticket prices, visit MazdaRaceway.com or call 831-242-8200.
The “Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel, How Technology is Transforming Automotive Powertrains, Retail, Connectivity and Autonomous Driving” Conference cosponsored by C3 (Connected Car Conferences) and WAJ was recently held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View Ca.
The informative conference was a series panel discussions and brought together automotive and technology industry experts to discuss where the industry is headed.
President: Brian Douglas Twenty-two years ago, Douglas and a group of automotive writers founded the Western Automotive Journalist organization and since then Brian has helped guide its successful journey. Brian is the automotive editor for Gentry, SV and Ranch & Coast magazines, a former contributing editor for Autoweek, former automotive talk show host at KSFO and is currently an automotive contributor for Bay Area radio and TV stations. Brian is returning to the board after serving as interim president of WAJ in 2013-2014. Contact Brian at President@WAJ.ORG
Treasurer & Vice President: Michael Coates Michael has worked as the editor in charge of a monthly enthusiast magazine, 4Wheel Off Road Magazine, reporter/photographer for a weekly newsmagazine and a daily newspaper, assistant editor for automotive and motorycle trade magazines as well as freelance work for a variety of publications and broadcast outlets. Currently he isI an editor of the Clean Fleet Report, a consumer website covering the electric car and alternative fuel vehicle space, as well as contributing to magazines such as Innovation & Tech Today, and appearing as an automotive expert on television and radio. Michael has served WAJ as President and Media Day Chair & Co-Chair as well as having organized the Future Cars/Future Technology and Silicon Valley Reinvents the Automobile programs. Contact Michael at Treasurer@WAJ.ORG
Secretary: Larry Rinek Larry serves as a senior technology consultant for Frost & Sullivan in the Technical Insights (TI) Division. He has been with Frost & Sullivan over 15 years in various capacities. He has authored numerous studies concerning advanced technologies and markets for automotive, aerospace, advanced materials, and other industries. Larry authors the monthly Automotive & Transportation Technology Alert (a private newsletter) for TI. Larry has over 24 years of research and consulting experience with various industries and technologies at SRI International, including many automotive projects. He enjoys a broad strategic perspective on how engineered products (such as motor vehicles) are successfully conceived, produced, and marketed. Often engaged to examine market prospects/trends as well as product technology and manufacturing issues, Larry helps organizations improve their business position. As a trained engineer (B.S.) with hardware design and prototyping experience, Larry brings hands-on technical passion to his automotive work. He remains active in technical societies such as SAE International (24 year member), has authored more than 25 scholarly publications/tech papers, and is a frequently sought out speaker for industry conferences. Contact Larry at Secretary@WAJ.ORG
Executive VP Events: Alex Dykes Alex produces detailed automotive videos for the Alex on Autos YouTube channel and his own website. He is also a regular contributor to The Truth About Cars. As a working journalist covering automotive products and news. Larry joined WAJ in 2012 and this is his first time serving on the board. His background in technology and technical writing has proven extremely helpful in his career as an automotive journalist. As a result of his prior experience, he enjoys writing and filming pieces that explain modern automotive technology from new transmission designs to the latest infotainment gadgets. Alex says that his recent transition from the written word to video has been a rewarding (and sometimes trying) experience.
Outside of the journalism world his time is divided between IT consulting, fleet vehicle consulting and a project that will last a lifetime: building his own home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Contact Alex at Events@WAJ.ORG
VP Membership: Akitomo Sugawara Aki is the Content Producer/Editor for Yahoo’s automotive portal Motoramic. He is an active member of WAJ and shares our vision to add accredited automotive journalists to our membership roster. Sugawara is well connected with automotive industry and plans on using those connections to recruit new members in his travels. Aki is a confirmed Gearhead, as a child he would help his dad repair his MG, but Aki always thought he’d follow in his dad’s footsteps as a doctor, and starting off as pre-med student in UC Berkeley, he never expected to make a career out his automotive passion, yet here he is. He has spent more than 10 years as a journalist and author, covering a variety of fields including tech, video games and automotive. Aki joined Yahoo in 2011 as an editor and content producer, where he manages partner content and occasionally sneaks off to press junkets to write ornery reviews. Previously Aki worked for companies including Fox Interactive Media and IDG Entertainment, He has also written brochures for Subaru Global and authored a Gran Turismo official strategy guide. Aki says: “I no longer mess with my dad’s MG, but have my own personal money pit with a 1991 BMW M5”. Contact Aki at Membership@WAJ.ORG
VP Publications: Jon Rosner Jon is a long time WAJ member who has served not only as membership VP, but has volunteered for extra tasks that have included putting phone banks together to build attendance for our bi-monthly meetings. Contact Jon at Publications@WAJ.ORG
VP Programs: Charlie Vogelheim Charlie is a thorough professional in our business, with a background that includes key positions at Kelly Blue Book, J.D. Power and Intellichoice. He’s currently the Editor and Host of Motor Trend Audio. Charlie recently relocated to his native Marin from Southern California where he was active in developing programs and guest speakers for Motor Press Guild. He has also performed the same tasks for WAJ and currently serves on our Future Cars Future Technology committee. Contact Charlie at Programs@WAJ.ORG
How Technology is Transforming Automotive Power trains, Retail, Connectivity and Autonomous Driving.
On October 20th 2014 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View Ca., C3 and WAJ join forces for an event in the epicenter of innovation that will bring together thought leaders from the auto and tech worlds to discuss not only the future of cars, but also how technology is transforming transportation. The event will feature engaging panel discussions on topics ranging from next-generation powertrains and fuels to 21st Century automotive retail, from cutting-edge in-dash connectivity to self-driving technology, as well as advanced vehicles and product demonstrations from automakers, their technology suppliers and visionaries from Silicon Valley and beyond. Don’t miss this pivotal event. This is your opportunity to gain critical insight into the future of automotive technology. Register now to reserve your space!