Mazda Celebrates Rich Racing Heritage of Jaguar

File this under unusual things you will rarely see in a press release – Mazda celebrates Jaguar’s rich racing heritage. Granted, the two used to be part of the big happy Ford family but it’s still strange to see one company wax enthusiastic about another without a punch line at the end but it makes sense when you factor in Laguna Seca.

Mazda is announcing a reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type and the 60th anniversary of Jaguar's first Le Mans win. The reunion will be held August 19-21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, with Jaguar as the featured marque. There will be approximately 550 authentic and historic race cars from nearly every decade of motorsports history. The cars are divided into 17 groups according to age, engine size and must be period-correct in their presentation.

According to Mazda, “Few companies are as synonymous with sports car racing as Jaguar, and the reunion will highlight the 50th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type and 60th anniversary of the remarkable Jaguar C-Type’s win in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

Mazda provides some interesting history of Jaguar and racing: “For Sir William Lyons, founder of Swallow Sidecar and Coach Building Company which evolved into Jaguar, winning Le Mans was a crucial goal to demonstrate to the world the robustness and performance of the XK120-C. Malcolm Sayer’s aerodynamic, lightweight design was based on his aviation background with wind tunnel testing. The C designation stood for “competition.”

“Three factory C-Types were entered in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans with stunning results. A 22-year-old Stirling Moss recorded the fastest lap, and Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead won the race. It was the first of seven Le Mans victories for Jaguar.

“Jaguar’s American racing roots are firmly planted on the Monterey Peninsula. It was in 1950 at the inaugural Pebble Beach Road Races that Jaguar achieved its first win on American soil. A 23-year-old American named Phil Hill, who months earlier accompanied the same Jaguar XK120 aboard the Queen Mary, took the checkered flag, thereby capturing international accolades for both himself and Jaguar.”

Mazda itself has a pretty good relationship with racing, as it explains on its media website: “On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you’ll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the largest road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCA’s Spec Miata class, with nearly 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America’s racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda’s involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world’s premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing. Mazda currently competes in over a dozen professional series ranging from the American Le Mans Series to the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup.”

The photo accompanying this article, courtesy of Mazda, is Roy Salvadori in his Jaguar E-Type (#5).

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