Back in 2001 Mazda teamed up with a wonderful sliver of tarmac located in Monterey, California called Laguna Seca. The result of this sponsorship became Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. That's still the name, but only for another few months. Why? Because Mazda has decided not to renew its naming rights deal with the famed racing circuit.
The official last day for the naming rights is March 31, 2018. After that day, the 2.2-mile circuit will revert back to simply being called Laguna Seca. Must of us call it that anyway, but the Mazda name has been plastered all over the track since 2001. This is a brand that with a history in motorsports, and it's a partnership that's always made sense.
Outgoing Mazda public relations director Jeremy Barnes commented on the decision: "It was a very hard decision to make after 17 wonderful years of supporting a very special racing facility," he said. "We regularly evaluate all of our marketing programs, both from a spend and a marketing basis, and with this, we made the decision it was time to move onto other opportunities."
It seems that Mazda is ready to focus more intently on increasing its sales than its motorsports reputation. The automaker will remain heavily involved in other motorsports activities, but this is a clear sign that a shift is happening within the company.
Mazda has a strong lineup at the moment filled with sharply styled models that drive well, too. A change in focus to push this message could help the car-buying public understand the strengths of the Mazda lineup.