While teams often come and go in the world of sports car racing, one South Florida-based organization has remained strong, and continues to grow in the motorsports industry, nearly 20 years after its inception.
For SpeedSource founder Sylvain Tremblay, his introduction to the sport almost came by chance. Having been invited to an autocross event, the Quebec native not only took part in the competition, but won in his debut.
PHOTOS: SpeedSource History
“That kind of set my path,” Tremblay told Sportscar365. “I went home with a trophy and my life from that day on was never the same. I can look back and say that was the moment that SpeedSource, as a dream, began. At 16 years old, I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life.”
Working his way through the club ranks in Florida, with regional and national championships to his credit, Tremblay formed SpeedSource Race Engineering in May of 1995, with a focus towards turning his passion into a successful business.
The trophies started to quickly pile up. Tremblay earned his first professional win in 1996, followed by multiple championships in Speedvision Cup and SCCA ITS competition, mostly coming with second and third-generation Mazda RX-7s.
Under the leadership of Tremblay and longtime friend David Haskell, who joined the organization in the first few months, SpeedSource also flourished as a car builder in the late 90s, with more than 60 of its self-built RX-7s having been sold to customers in club and pro racing.
While having also achieved success with water-cooled Porsches in Grand-Am Cup, and even a brief foray into Daytona Prototypes with Multimatic and Riley-built cars, the team’s heart and soul had been with Mazda from the very start.
It took a significant step forward in 2004 with the launch of the Mazda RX-8 and SpeedSource being tasked with developing the race car for GRAND-AM Cup ST competition. Tremblay and Haskell delivered the drivers, teams and manufacturer’s championships in the car’s debut season and earned back-to-back titles in 2005.
But arguably SpeedSource’s biggest feat came three years later, when it claimed victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, crushing the competition with its Rolex Series GT class factory RX-8 that it also had successfully built and developed in-house.
For Tremblay, who teamed with Haskell, Nick Ham and Raphael Matos for the GT class win, it ranks as his and the team’s biggest achievement to date.
“In 2008 we went to Daytona, sat on the pole and had a fast car,” he recalled. “We really just ran hard the entire race hard enough for everyone else to have problems. It was an amazing experience.
“I had finished second and third at the race but had not won it. To win it in a car that I helped design, in a car to bring Mazda its 22nd [Rolex 24] win in GT, to do it with David Haskell and Nick Ham and the people around this program was fantastic.
“That was a special day. I look back at that particular race, it was amazing. It’s not only what we did but who we beat.”
The team returned to victory lane at Daytona in 2010, while also sweeping the GT championships with its sister No. 69 car of Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato, in what ended up being a banner year for all involved.
By the time the RX-8 GT was phased out at the end of the 2012 season, it had notched 18 class victories, shared between the SpeedSource squad and various customer operations over the successful five-year run.
A new era dawned for the company with Mazda’s shift to diesel technology and the SKYACTIV platform in 2013, which saw the creation of a Prep 2-based Mazda6 chassis with a 2.2-liter production turbo diesel powerplant.
The groundbreaking program, which delivered another championship to the Japanese manufacturer, led to the jump into prototype racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and becoming the first P2-based car to feature diesel technology.
As the team prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2015, SpeedSource doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
For Tremblay, who continues to enjoy a long-term partnership with Mazda, the team principal is targeting further expansion into multiple new arenas in the years to come.
“Our business is multi-faceted,” he said. “We’re more than just a race team or prep shop. We have an engineering business. So far we’ve been able to stay busy with 100 percent Mazda content.
“We’ve been approached by other OEs to do other projects and the stars have not aligned. Just like Prodrive works with multiple manufacturers, it’s something we’re always looking at.
“With all of the capabilities and talented people in this building, we could do much more than we do now. It’s always interesting to see what else can really grow the company.
“I bleed Mazda and it’s been a wonderful relationship that I want to continue and cherish.”