May 31, 2005

To all Star Mazda racers,

It has been over a month since the last bulletin and we have some catching up to do. The various FM series' around the USA have been up and running for awhile now and we are enclosing the points standings for most of them here. The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear made its Round 3 stop at Mid-Ohio with a 46 car field, a new Series high. There was a significant enhancement added to the series for pro car drivers announced at Mid-Ohio. Atlanta and Mid-Ohio races should be on TV about the time you receive this bulletin. We are enclosing the schedules and "Supps" for Montreal and the Pike's Peak oval events. There are also a few technical/mechanical items to be discussed, and a sad note about a long time friend.

Working backward from our most recent event for the pro cars, we saw 23 rows take the green on the Mid-Ohio back straight in a record size field for the pro car. Pablo Donoso had his best race this season, challenging his fellow "southerner", Raphael Matos, for the lead for most of the race. Robbie Pecorari and Marco Andretti also served notice that they intend to be factors in the run for the championship. With the results for Mid-Ohio in the books, it was also possible to set the grid for Montreal. Raphael Matos' nearly flawless performance so far (he only missed the pole point for Atlanta) gains him the pole for the F-1 weekend. The provisional grid, as of today, is enclosed here. Forty of the 43 Series drivers that earned spots on the grid have committed to be there. Six drivers have been accepted "at large", so far. We are just hoping the special nature of being in an event with F-1 on the card does not lead our group into trying so hard that the show is overwhelmed by yellow flags. So far this season, the Star Mazda Championship drivers are to be commended for the cleanliness and excellence of the competition.

So, what was the big announcement at Mid-Ohio? Some deserving Star Mazda Championship pilot is going to get to race at Sebring, in 2006, in the B-K Motorsports 3-rotor P2 car! In a joint effort with Mazda and B-K, the Series has a new prize to move someone's career onto the international stage. The press release is attached. Some explanation of the selection criteria is needed, however. Here is how it will work: To be considered for the award, a driver must finish in the top 5 points-earning positions in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. From there, a committee made up of representatives of Mazda North American Operations, B-K Motorsports, and the Series, will select the winner based on demonstrated speed, need, and likelihood for the selected driver to continue to advance in the sport. We think this has all the right ingredients to reward a deserving driver and keep the focus on moving driving careers up the ladder from Formula Mazda.

During the press conference announcing the new award, some new TV and print ads were shown to the group, with tag lines like "The meek shall inherit the rearview mirror", "These guys would shut the door on their own mothers", and "Its feeding time in the shark tank". The graphics that go with these got complements from the drivers, press, and even some driver's mothers. Another fun sign of recognition was created along the way, as Raphael Matos was awarded two sets of "Shark" stickers to display on his car, a la fighter pilot's victory stencils, to symbolize his wins at Sebring and Atlanta. The stickers depict a shark inside the shape of a rotor. Everyone seemed to respond to the idea, so we are going to further develop the concept and the graphics as the season unfolds. After Mid-Ohio, Rafa has his third set coming.

From time to time, we ask our car owners and drivers to give us some feedback about various subjects. We are enclosing a survey for that purpose and are including a stamped, self addressed envelope. We sincerely appreciate your input and use it to make improvements in our products and services. As we say "Help us, help you".

The rear crash attenuator or tail cone (p/n 030-559), mentioned in our 22 Apr 05 bulletin, has now passed the crash testing based on the FIA F3 standards. The parts are carbon fiber and fasten to the new style FTR gearbox rear bearing carrier (p/n 060-569), now standard on the current production pro cars. Many of the cars in customer hands will require a new rear case to use the tail cone, since the original design predated the rear crash standard. These new mods are authorized immediately and considered optional for 2005, but will be mandatory for 2006. The addition of the new cone requires the relocation of the rain light and the scoring transponder, plus a different version of the rear tow hook. A minor machining operation is required to weaken the rear wing mount plates. A drawing of the rear wing mount mod is enclosed. Your Star Race Cars dealer can help you, or you can contact us, if needed. These are easy changes. The original rear quick lift operation is preserved. The parts are good looking on the car and the carbon fiber is suitable for painting.

There is a new release for the configuration of the pro car ECU. It increases the life of the ignition coils and shows zero power loss for the motor. We are hoping to have it for everyone at Montreal, along with some small software improvements to make the system more user friendly. As soon as it is released, it will be available for download over the internet. Contact Tony at Star (818) 686-3350 to set it up. Have your ECU number handy.

Finally, I have been remiss in not commenting sooner on the passing of Michael Burress on 6 Apr. He died of cancer at the age of only 30. Mike was a member of the Star Race Cars team for six years as a technician, driver, and engineer. He excelled at any task he was given, and performed with an attitude that was jovial and friendly to all. Kids thought he was one of them. That continued as Mike left our team to marry the love of his life, Melissa, and relocated to New York. There he formed Lightspeed Motorsports and continued to be a friend and ally to Formula Mazda enthusiasts wherever racing took him. In his final communication to his friends, Mike expressed gratitude for the time he had, and asked that we remember the good times we all shared. That's a tough order when you are choked up, but a large number of his family and racing buddies did their best to comply at his memorial service in Monterey. Mike's ashes were scattered from a surfboard into the Pacific at sunset by a fellow racer. I could not help but feel that, although Mike's life was short, any of us would be fortunate to be so fondly remembered by so many.

Gary Rodrigues