Thanks to Dean Case and the entire MazdaSpeed team, we viewed the Ayrton Senna documentary last night at the annual MazdaSpeed press gathering. Dean got some serious media there, including representatives of Road & Track magazine, Haymarket (Racer magazine), the Speed Freaks, and many of the area’s most noted free-lancers. The PRI team alone counted around 15 attendees.
“Senna” gets two thumbs up. We don’t ever remember viewing anything in film that resembled racing as we knew it until watching this documentary. It had a way of capturing speed that unnerved the viewer, and brought us close to that knife edge between fast and catastrophe.
Great drivers wring the maximum potential out of a race car, but there are those with the most mysterious of driver talents. They can take a car beyond what anyone thought was capable. Senna was that kind of driver. The movie does a terrific job of bringing the viewer closer to understanding why, but it still remains a mystery, I think. Some have it, and we just don’t know where it comes from or how it’s possible. To re-experience this kind of greatness made for a wonderful 106 minutes, despite the terrible foreknowledge of how it would all end.
We watch Senna screaming joyously in his victory lap when he finally won an F1 race in Brazil at Interlagos. Then, we watch the crew pry him out from the car moments later after he had essentially passed out from the fatigue and pain of forcing the car around the track at a winning pace despite having only sixth gear due to a jammed gearbox. Unbelievable.
(For SoCal readers, the film opens to the public in Orange County on Friday, August 19, at the Edwards Westpark 8 in Irvine.)
Here are some interesting notes from Mazda that we wanted to share:
Mazda remains the most road-raced brand n America. Mazda racecars outnumber the combined efforts of Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
MazdaSpeed has sold over $75,000,000 in motorsports parts since 1991
Mazda has directly supported the 20 drivers who have won a total of 26 awards as part of the MazdaSpeed Motorsports Development Ladder, launched in 2006.
Beginning with the 2011 season, Mazda expanded the MazdaSpeed ladder via a partnership with IndyCar to create the Mazda Road to Indy.
Spec Miata is the largest spec class in the world. The MX-5 Miata is the best selling roadster in history, having recently passed the 900,000 mark.
Mazda remains the only Japanese automaker to have ever scored an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
And we’d like to add our own note: There was only one automaker that advertised during the Indy 500 telecast that was not a big part of any race car on the screen (Honda had its engines in the race). That was Mazda. One of the greatest gearhead TV audiences of the year, and Mazda was there to send its message.
For more info on Mazda racing, go to www.mazdamotorsports.com.