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The Star Mazda Championship has its roots in the original Formula Mazda racecar that debuted in 1990 (also referred to as the Standard Formula Mazda). Originally developed as an instructional car for an open wheel racing school, the Formula Mazda featured a sturdy design with good handling and ample, dependable power - courtesy of a 185-hp two-rotor engine. With only a 1,140 lb. curb weight, the Formula Mazda has ample performance; it runs 0-60 in under 4 seconds, is capable of 2 g's of lateral acceleration and a 150 mph top speed. The popular open wheel racer also features adjustable shocks, sway bars, brake bias and wing angles to adapt to a wide variety of track situations and driving preferences. Besides its performance capabilities, the Formula Mazda would soon become known for its reliability and ease of maintenance. In fact, three years between rebuilds of its two-rotor race engines were not uncommon. The popularity and potential of the package was clear and by 1991, the Star Mazda Series began organizing a series based around the Formula Mazda.


As the series developed, Star Race Cars, exclusive manufacturers of Formula Mazda cars, found ample demand for them. Over the next few years, the series would serve as an opening act to some of America's top drawing racing series; including such headliners as the American LeMans Series, Indy Car, Champ Car, and NASCAR stock cars. In 1999, a nationally-based championship program, which included a 2000 Mazda Miata as a championship prize, was added to the regional championship. In 2001, the series evolved into the first Star Mazda North American Championship and continued to enjoy growth. In conjunction of the return of the rotary engine to the Mazda lineup via the Mazda RX-8, Mazda announced the development of a new Renesis-powered Pro Formula Mazda with Elan Motorsports Technologies in 2002. The Pro Formula Mazda would again be manufactured by Star Race Cars and take advantage of cutting edge racecar technology - including a carbon composite chassis built to FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, sanctioning body to Formula One and World Rally Championship) standards - and the latest rotary technology in the Renesis engine.

By 2003, the Star Mazda season prize package had grown to $400,000 and international television coverage via the Sky Sports World Motorsports Program was added to the U.S. coverage through SPEED. In 2004, the prize package swelled to $500,000 and the new Star Mazda Pro Formula Mazda debuted to sterling reviews. The Pro Formula Mazda's 238 hp Renesis rotary engine powers a svelte 1,090 lb carbon fiber package and was tested to 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, over 2.5 g's in cornering, and over 160 mph. The state-of-the-art equipment list includes a six-speed, no-lift sequential gearbox, MoTeC engine management, and a cockpit-adjustable front sway bar. Thirty-three brand new Pro Formula Mazdas took the green flag at Sebring International Raceway for the car's inaugural race on March 19, 2004. Twenty hard fought laps later, Dan Di Leo became the first winner in the Pro Formula Mazda - a victory that included a pole position captured with a time that broke the previous Formula Mazda track record by an astounding eight seconds. After ten equally intense races, Michael McDowell clinched the 2004 championship to become the first Pro Formula Mazda Star Mazda Champion.

The 2005 marked another year of remarkable growth for the series. The list of promising drivers that competed in the Star Mazda Championship included the likes of standouts Marco Andretti, grandson of the 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti and son of former CART champion Michael Andretti; Graham Rahal, son of 3-time CART Champion Bobby Rahal; Matt Jaskol, a Stars of Tomorrow karting champion; and Pablo Donoso, the 19 year old protégé of former IndyCar and Formula One driver Eliseo Salazar. After an extremely competitive season, including a special first time appearance with Formula One at the Canadian Grand Prix in June, Brazilian native Raphael Matos edged out Robbie Pecorari and James Hinchcliffe to become the 2005 Star Mazda Champion.

In 2006, the emergence of Adrian 'Ace' Carrio proved that there was no shortage of talent in the series following the graduation of Andretti, Rahal, and Matos to advanced open car series – with the latter two moving to Champ Car Atlantic Powered By Mazda Series, the next rung of the Mazda Motorsports Ladder. Ace surged into the spotlight to win the championship after a spirited two-way duel near the end of the season. After dueling with series Rookie of the Year and championship runner-up Kevin LaCroix at 12 hard-fought races, Carrio carried away the title with a 39-point advantage. Carrio will list 8 podiums, including 2 wins, as part of his impressive 2006 Star Mazda resume. In addition to a new Mazda RX-8 and a Championship fund of $100,000, Carrio also earned a test with a top Champ Car Atlantic team as part of his Star Mazda Championship winnings.

In 2007 the growing international appeal of the Star Mazda Championship was reflected more than ever in its talent pool, which included pilots from four continents and seven countries. With eight different winners in 12 races and just four points separating 4th- through 8th-place finishers in the title hunt, the 2007 season was a record-setting season that included the first-ever back-to-back podium finishes by a female driver in the series (AIM Autosport's Natacha Gachnang).

In addition to a chance to advance up the Mazda Motorsports Ladder, Star Mazda competitors were motivated to win with a prize fund that approached $1.5 million. In the end, 19-year-old rookie Dane Cameron from Sonoma, Calif. Cameron edged out all comers to win the '07 championship and became only the second rookie champ in the series' 17-year history (Ian Lacy won it in '98). Driving the JDC/Finlay Motorsports entry, he clinched the championship in Round 11 at Road Atlanta en route to a record of three wins, six poles, and seven top-five finishes, including five podiums.

Cameron is set to follow the path established by '05 champion Matos and '06 winner Adrian Carrio, moving up the Mazda ladder with a Mazda-sponsored 2008 season in the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Cameron has elected to race with the '07 championship-winning Sierra Sierra/ProWorks team. He also collected $100,000 and a new Mazda RX-8 for winning the championship and $10,000 for winning Rookie of the Year. In addition to the generous championship purse, nearly $500,000 in cash prizes was distributed deep into the field, from $70,000 for 2nd-place to $10,000 for 15th.