Behind the Press Release

By Dean Case
Dean just hanging out at Le Mans.

When Mazda Raceway asked me to write a blog I was intrigued and nervous.  As the Communications Officer for Mazda Motorsports I write, a lot, about Mazda, Mazda Motorsports, and Mazda Raceway.  But like all of us at Mazda Motorsports, my career is a gray area transition from my personal interests.  Does anyone really want to know how I went from “fan” to “insider”?  The answer I am hoping is yes.  You can get paid for doing what you love.  It may take some time, but persistence pays off.  Here is the Cliffs Notes version of how I came to be associated with Mazda Motorsports.     

I grew up in Southern California, San Pedro to be exact.  Some of my earliest memories are going to now-defunct tracks like Riverside, Ontario, Ascot, Lions Dragstrip, and Carlsbad.  I was a motorsports junkie from an early age.  We went to everything from sportscar to drag boats, and a lot of motorcycle races.  I chose engineering as a career path as I thought I might be able to design race cars someday.

While studying Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo I made my first trips to Monterey in the early 1980s.  My friends and I attended the CART, IMSA, and the AMA races.  I even won a motorsports trivia contest that earned me a three-day racing school.  In 1983 that was the Jim Russell school at the track formerly known as Laguna Seca – being the PR guy I only say Mazda Raceway these days and I remind every racer and writer to get it right.  During the three-day school I learned that I had better stay in engineering school as my driving talents were not going to make for a great career behind the wheel.

Upon graduation, I started as an engineer at Mazda Research and Development in Irvine, where in 1986, the first generation MX-5 Miata was yet to be unveiled.  It was an amazing time, and allowed me to meet people like Mazda racers Jim Downing and Tommy Kendall, and automotive journalists like Michael Jordan from Automobile magazine. In 1992 I moved from Mazda to Ford and while at Ford I got my first motorsports career opportunity, managing the Ford Trans-Am program, where I was reunited with Tommy Kendall.

After surviving five Michigan winters I moved from Ford to Nissan in 1998 where I returned to mainstream vehicle engineering.  In 2000 I made a career shift from engineering to communications, managing press events for Nissan.  My first ever event in this capacity was at Mazda Raceway in 2001 and I learned how cool it was to host events in Monterey.

In 2006, Nissan moved their corporate offices from California to Tennessee, and not wishing to move East of the Pacific Coast Highway, I launched a consulting career.  Author and automotive journalist Michael Jordan suggested my name to Mazda, and having left on friendly terms before, a new chapter in my Mazda history began, one that includes working with the team at Mazda Raceway. I now get to come up to Monterey at least three times a year which is a pretty awesome job perk.