28 March 2006

To all Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear racers:

The season opener at Sebring had the usual start-up challenges, but generally went well. The weather was as good as central Florida can be in March. 38 cars showed up. 37 took the green to start the race. It appears the 2006 crop of drivers is again deep with talented prospects, which will make winning the Championship a real claim to fame, worthy of launching a career in motorsports. There was a good mix of returning veterans along with drivers and teams new to our Series. All of the equipment was nicely turned out and made us proud.

Qualifying and the race were both plagued with "overly optimistic" errors by new drivers. It definitely hurt the show and robbed some folks of the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Racing is a game of mistakes, but there were too many, too often, at Sebring. We hope lessons were learned, but if bad habits persist, the Series WILL deal with the offenders. We expect our program to be a place for training and learning, but it is also intended to be a value-oriented showcase for driving talent. Full course yellows frustrate that goal.

After 16 years administering this program, we still are learning and growing. Suggestions and constructive criticism are always taken in the spirit of continual improvement to our products and are very welcome. It helps us to help you. Please understand that it is not always possible to implement every idea and sometimes the ones we can push forward take awhile. Here are some simple improvements, all suggested by drivers and car owners, that will either be AUTHORIZED, or in some cases REQUIRED as part of the specifications, starting with the Houston event next month:

1) Fuel cut - REQUIRED. This stops the high pressure pump if the motor stops. It is a safety item.

2) Fuel pressure change to 57 psi + or - 2 psi - REQUIRED. This makes the injectors more consistent and puts the pressure regulator in it's sweet spot.

3) New ignition trigger bracket - REQUIRED. This allows timing to be set precisely on spec, without bending anything.

4) Variable traction control switch - OPTIONAL. This gives the driver the option to select from 9 positions in between "on" and "off", to suit the circuit conditions and the driver's style. Any questions about this call Dejan Matic (818) 686-3354.

5) Brake pads - OPTIONAL. A new Hawk DTC 60 compound is allowed. HT-12 is being phased out by Hawk.

6) Spring abutment bearings - OPTIONAL. These eliminate torsional loads when coils springs are compressed from suspension movement or when adjusting spring pre-load. P/N 000-562 Cost is under $100 per car set.

IMPORTANT : Items 1 - 4 above require a configuration change in all ECUs. The new configuration is available from Tony Rodrigues (818) 686-3350, or Phil Blanke (714) 895-7001. They will need your ECU serial number, then they can set up an internet link, specific to your ECU, to allow you to load the new encrypted configuration.

Make sure you have accomplished this before Houston. If needed, they can talk you through the change.

Speaking of Houston, we are at last able to publish the official schedule and track map, here and on our web site. This will be an exciting (and crowded) event, so we are all going to need to demonstrate some flexibility to put on the best show possible. ALMS, Atlantic, and Champ Car, will be our "support races". Sure.

Track time will be limited and testing impossible, because the circuit is a temporary one. We are therefore implementing some specific procedures FOR THE HOUSTON RACE ONLY. Consider this an experiment. All practice and qualifying sessions will be timed and WILL COUNT FOR GRID POSITIONS. This means any car may be impounded or inspected by tech at any time and, if a car is found to be outside spec, all previous times for that car will be wiped out. We will still use practice times to split the final qualifying session, and drivers will get an opportunity to better their times in reduced traffic. Race tires will be marked for the final session of qualifying. Cars will be gridded for the race based on the best time recorded in ANY session by each driver. Note: The turn around time from qualifying to the race on Saturday is too tight to fix a wrecked car. Use your head!

Houston will be the first race included in the Racing for Kids/Star Mazda Championship. Here is how it works. Racing for Kids is a long-established charity which works with children's hospitals all over the world. There will be a five race championship, within our Championship, featuring Racing for Kids. The included events are: Houston, Mid-Ohio, Salt Lake, Road Atlanta, and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Each driver participating in the program must register, display the required Racing for Kids logos, and make at least one hospital visit during the program. Each of the five included races will recognize the top finishing Racing for Kids driver with a $500 cash prize, plus a $500 donation in the driver's name.

After the five races are concluded, the highest points earning RFK driver will receive $1000 cash, plus a $1000 donation in his or her name. We will use the Experts/Masters points system to score RFK. We are extremely pleased to continue this program.

If you are planning to participate with us at Houston and we did not get to see and measure your rig and awning at Sebring, please fax us a sketch of the dimensions to (818) 686-3358, so we can take you into consideration for paddock space. Houston is going to be a challenge.

As mentioned in a previous bulletin, we have arranged for two days of testing at the Milwaukee Mile oval on May 23 and 24, 2006. The new S.A.F.E.R. walls will be completed. Goodyear and VP will be there, along with the Star Race Cars staff and equipment. We have also arranged for catering support for those two days. Charges will be $1250 per car for TWO days on track, including two catering armbands per day, per car. Before you ask, we will not split the charge for one day only testing. Run either day, or both. Sign up soon if you will need additional catering. We need to give an accurate count for food and drinks. Use the usual form. If you wish to leave your rig at Milwaukee between the test days and the race weekend, you can. Just let us know.

See you at the races !

Gary Rodrigues