- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

Zoom-Zoom Live came to Washington last weekend and more than 5,000 lucky participants got to blaze around four tracks in a variety of Mazda products. Taking control of a Mazda 3, Mazda 6, Mazda 5, RX-8, MX-5 Miata, CX-7 or Mazdaspeed 6, drivers could compete against the clock for points and prizes or test their skills on tight turns on autocross and gymkhana tracks.

The event, at Fed Ex Field, was the first of Mazda’s 10-city Zoom-Zoom Live tour, the purpose of which is simply to introduce people to Mazda products.

There are no sales people, no commitments on the part of the participants and no fees involved. Participants in each city can sign up on the Internet at www.zoomzoomlive.com or fill out a waiver form at the event itself, then start driving.

The most exciting of the track events is the Mazdaspeed 6 Challenge, presented by Bridgestone. Drivers belted themselves into a 270-horsepower Mazdaspeed 6 and attempted to match — or beat — the record time (42.5 seconds) through a tight, winding autocross track marked out on the tarmac. This test of skill was rewarded not only by the sheer fun of it, but also the accumulation of points toward prizes. Electronic photos were taken of each driver so they could go on the Web later to view themselves (Yours Truly managed to turn a time of 43.6 seconds.)

Another fun event was the CX-7 Target Hunt, in which a laser-equipped CX-7 SUV could be driven over reflectors on the track to score points.

This was a test of directional skill and focus, rather than speed. For pure, all-out speed, participants could drive MX-5 Miata’s and RX-8 sports cars over a nontimed gymkhanalike course.

The smell of burning rubber and sound of squealing tires was the order of the day.

The last of the tracks was devoted to a matched-time event, wherein drivers could select any of several models of Mazda and compete on a gymkhana course to match a predetermined time. This provided a great way to drive briskly, while paying attention to one’s overall time.

The Zoom-Zoom Live event is definitely one to attend for any auto enthusiast. It combines the best of driving fun and no pressure. The next event is in Boston tomorrow and Sunday; New York on Aug. 26 and 27.

Following these runs, the event goes to Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. All the details are to be found at www.zoomzoomlive.com.

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