From the outside looking in, one would be tempted to think Major League Baseball’s CJ Wilson has lead a charmed life. He’s a starting pitcher on the winning Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim roster, he owns a string of successful Mazda dealerships, his racing team just won its first Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge title and his car collection is comprised of exceptionally desirable automobiles.
According to Wilson, he wasn’t lucky enough to be born with the natural talent to be a professional baseball player; he got to where he is by putting in the work, and approaching the training for his baseball career in a dedicated and innovative fashion. Much like Mazda’s knack for achieving goals through innovative strategies, Wilson did more than was commonly expected to accomplish his objective.
“Mazda and I have a lot in common,” Wilson said. “We have achieved our goals in an unconventional way. As a child, once I made the decision to become a professional baseball player; in addition to practicing every day, I read every baseball book I could get my hands on. I really studied the science of the game.”
Like Mazda’s cars, Wilson became thoroughly grounded in the dynamics. His aim was to become the best and he could only do so by mastering the techniques.
“I used to lay my baseball cards out in sequences to study the perfect stance, the optimal swing, and the best throwing form,” Wilson said. “I watched videos of the best players in the game and emulated their motions exactly. This is how I got the mechanics of the game down pat.”
Starting his training unconventionally late in life, at 9 years old, Wilson studied to perfect his pitching and hitting mechanics. However, he also had work to do on his physical strength. By focusing on the mind and body, Wilson was able to be a well-rounded athlete and eventually an all-star pitcher, ultimately allowing him to acquire a remarkable collection of cars.
Growing up in the 1980s, Wilson was attracted to standout cars within their respective classes.
“I always appreciated how well a given car was executed,” Wilson said. “I admired the cars capable of performing the best against other cars in their classes. I also liked cars with successful racing histories. The success of the Mazda RX-7—with its back to back IMSA GTP championship wins during the 1980s—was one of the reasons I just added a 15,000-mile FD RX-7 to my car collection.”
Sharing garage space in Wilson’s collection with the RX-7 are cars from other such winning marques as McLaren and Porsche. One of his goals with his collection is to assemble a group of the best JDM cars built during the 1990s. He already has the RX-7, an Acura NSX, and a Nissan Skyline from the period.
An avid racing enthusiast, Wilson started the CJ Wilson racing team in 2010. When he decided to go into racing seriously, he inquired among his friends, who were professional drivers, and they all suggested he should get an MX-5 Cup Car. Interestingly, it turned out—quite by coincidence or providence—the one he bought was also the very first MX-5 Cup Car ever built.
“It was pretty well used when I got it,” Wilson said, “but I loved running it. You know frankly, Mazda is the most accessible brand if you’re into racing as a joyful pursuit. The cars are easily available, they’re affordable, and they’re very competitive. I scored my first win in an MX-5 Cup Car and I got my first endurance win in one too. The Miata is a very big part of my story.”
Wilson appreciates the way Mazda remains focused on continuous improvement, even though he thinks the cars are already terrific. When pressed to discuss areas where he feels Mazda could improve, he says he would love to see a 300+ horsepower sports car positioned above the Miata. Happily, the recently teased Mazda sports car concept seems poised to fulfill this wish.
“Mazda and the fun factor align better than any other company.” Wilson said. “It’s easy to spend a million dollars on a car and get something great, but what can you get for $25,000? This is where Mazda excels; the cars are both exciting and affordable. It’s so easy to get behind Mazda as a brand. Even with all of my sports cars, my daily driver is a Mazda3.”