July 15, 2013, Makati City, Philippines – Berjaya Auto Philippines Inc, the distributor of Mazda in the Philippines, and Lee Bumgarner (LBI), Inc, announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Mazda Philippines to support Filipino racing sensation Michele Bumgarner in her quest to reach the North America’s INDYCAR race championship.
Bumgarner, a 2008 Star Mazda Championship series veteran, multiple Philippine Motorsports Driver of the Year awardee and international karting champion, will now be backed by Mazda Philippines in her efforts to compete in the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship as part of Mazda’s Road to Indy development program. This Mazda program is a major stepping stone in Bumgarner’s ultimate goal of racing in the global motorsports arena in North American INDYCAR Championships.
“Motorsport has always been in our DNA – this is a very natural move for us to offer our support to lift Michele to the top level of the international US Indycar racing scene. Competing in the Mazda Pro Championship under the Mazda Road to Indy program is the absolute right strategy for such a talented race driver like Michele to reach INDYCAR,” says Mazda Philippines’ President Steven Tan. He adds, “Michele has the talent, the experience and a team that can take her as far as she will go. Mazda shares Michele’s values of setting extreme goals and defying convention. We felt strongly that Michele is the Filipino personification of Mazda’s ideals.”
Having been exposed to the competitive world of international motor sports, Bumgarner believes partnering with Mazda is crucial to both her and the brand’s success. “It is essential to have such a strategic and important brand like Mazda as one of my corporate partners,” says Bumgarner. She adds, “It will be mutually beneficial for us since Mazda plays such an important role in the Mazda Road to Indy development series.”
The Japanese carmaker is the title sponsor of the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship. The nine-leg event is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system. The series champion of this INDYCAR-sanctioned event will be given a sponsorship package by Mazda to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights series the following year.
Bumgarner is targeting to compete in the last three race weekends of the 2013 Pro Mazda series in August at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Circuit Trois-Rivieres, and in October at Houston. She is also lining up testing schedules with a Pro Mazda Formula car in the weeks to come with the possibility of competing in the top class of the Formula Car Challenge in the final three legs of the series at the Sonoma Raceway this August to October. Nash Performance, her management team in the US, will determine the best testing schedules and the right Pro Mazda team affiliations for the young racer for her full race season in 2014.
Michele’s father, Lee, is likewise confident of the partnership and the new route his daughter will undertake. “Whichever option Michele decides to participate in for 2013 will be focused on preparing her to be ready for a full racing season in 2014 when she will compete for the championship in the Pro Mazda Championship throughout North America,” affirms the supportive dad.
For updates on Michele’s Pro Mazda racing progress, follow Mazda Philippines’s Facebook page at facebook.com/MazdaPhilippines or catch the latest news through Mazda Philippines’ Twitter account Mazda_ph.