The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion regularly attracts the best cars and most famous drivers to its celebration of all things motorsports history at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, so it’s a natural for Mazda to bring some of the finest examples of its racing past to the event. This year’s gathering, held Aug. 16-18, was no exception.
Mazda brought three cars to the 2013 Motorsports Reunion, each driven and prepared by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) employees working on their own time.
“Mazda’s involvement in racing is more than just a sticker on a silhouette car that has nothing to do with road technology, and more than just writing a check and walking away,” said Jim O’Sullivan, MNAO President and CEO. “We are fully committed to motorsports, whether it’s the fact that there are more Mazdas road raced on any weekend than any other brand, whether it’s the fact that this is our 13th season as partner to Mazda Raceway, whether it’s the fact that our clean diesel Mazda6 racecars are bringing street technology to the racetrack – and winning – or whether it’s the fact that Mazda employees are driving our heritage racecars this weekend. We are car people through-and-through, and it’s an honor to show off our heritage at this most important weekend of events.”
Robert Davis, MNAO Senior Vice President, U.S. Operations, drove a 787 prototype built for the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans. While it didn’t finish that year, as a backup to the 787Bs in the ’91 race, where Mazda became the only Japanese manufacturer to date to win the race, it finished eighth.
The stunning 1992 RX-792P never got to show its full potential in the IMSA GTP series, as that class folded before the 1993 season. Powered by a 750hp four-rotor R26B – a variation of the engine that powered the 787 and 787Bs – the car was driven to the Class 6B victory at Monterey by Weldon Munsey, MNAO Manager, Partner Affairs.
Jeremy Barnes, MNAO Director of Public Relations and Brand Experience drove the mighty 1991 RX-7 IMSA GTO car that Pete Halsmer drove to five wins and the championship that year. Powered by a four-rotor 13J producing 640hp, the car finished second in Group 6B with Barnes at the wheel.
The three U.S.-based cars were joined by a 787B, a sister car to the Le Mans winner, driven by longtime Mazda factory race driver Yojiro Terada. Terada possesses four class wins at Le Mans himself, all in Mazda or Mazda-powered vehicles.