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19 July 2013

Mazda PH to back Fil-Am racer Michele Bumgarner on 2014 Mazda Road to Indy campaign

Words by Christopher Kho
berjaya roadtoindy
Berjaya Auto Philippines, the local distributor of Mazda, may only be a few months old since they started operations in 2013, but they're now taking a big leap into motorsports. No, they're not going to race locally, but instead, they've inked a deal to back Filipina-American race car driver Michele Bumgarner on her campaign in the Mazda Road to Indy series. Yes, Michele is a she!
The Mazda Road to Indy was made to develop drivers, such as Michele, for the IZOD IndyCar Series - the top tier open-wheel formula race series in the USA. Think of it as the Formula 1 of North America, but racing on street courses, race tracks, and ovals. She'll be racing in the Pro Mazda Championship in 2014, driving a 495 kg single seat open-wheel formula car that's powered by a 1.3L Mazda-supplied Renesis rotary engine. And when she does, Michele will be the sole female driver not only in the Pro Mazda Championship, but the entire Mazda Road to Indy series.
To get a head start, Michele is targeting to compete in the last three race outings in the 2013 Pro Mazda season. This should get her up to full speed for the 2014 season. However, they have yet to announce which team Michelle will be driving for.
Michele’s father, Lee Bumgarner explains that she will spend a year in the Pro Mazda Championship. If all goes well, she'll then move up to the Firestone Indy Lights the following year before reaching the ultimate goal of racing in the the IndyCar race championship in three to four years time.
“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,” said Mazda Philippines President Steven Tan.
Tan told us that while Berjaya Auto Philippines does provide funding for Michele, they're not going to disclose the exact amount. The deal can also be extended as long as Michele runs in a Mazda-backed series.
promazda chassis
“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,” Tan added.
The 23-year-old Filipina-American driver is a nine-year veteran in go-karts, winning multiple titles locally and internationally. She also enjoyed success in open-wheel racing such as Formula Toyota, Formula BMW, Formula 3, and Star Mazda.
For updates on Michele’s Pro Mazda racing progress, Like Mazda Philippines’s Facebook page or Follow @Mazda_ph on Twitter.