Inaugural Mazda Fan Kyushu Meeting a Roaring Success
Although Autopolis was largely unaffected by Typhoon No. 11, the weather forecast for the 19th predicted scattered showers for the morning and heavy rain for the afternoon. However, when the morning actually came, it was only somewhat overcast with blue skies occasionally poking through the clouds. It would seem that the legend, which states that if the 787B is running you are guaranteed of fine weather, will remain unbroken. As if sensing that fact, numerous Mazda vehicles crammed the entrance of Autopolis, which is located at the caldera of Mt Aso, even before gates opened. Among these were entrants from participatory motorsports events such as the Mazda Fan Circuit Trial and the Mazda Endurance (“Maz-Tai”), along with owner’s vehicles that gathered for the parade lap and numerous families who came out to see the spectacle.
At the stage car placed within the paddock General Manager of the Global Sales & Marketing Division, Yasuhiro Aoyama, and racecar driver, Yojiro Terada, gave some welcoming words, after which Kyushu Mazda president, Hideki Onuki officially announced the start of the event. On the circuit, exciting rounds for the Roadster Cup and Circuit Trial series were held and saw some fantastic racing. Over in A paddock, the entire area was jam packed with owners’ club vehicles, including Axelas, Demios, and Atenzas. Along with these were 1970s classics such as the Capella and Luce, 80s beauties like the Cosmo Rotary, the SA22C RX-7 and other modern beasts such as the FD3S RX-7 and the RX-8. After including the Roadsters Members cars to this list, more than 100 machines lined up on the starting grid and prepared to perform a parade lap. With the Demio SKY-D and SKY-Gs, which compete in the Super Endurance, taking the lead, this huge group of owners drove down the course and were clearly overwhelmed with the excitement of driving on a real life race track.
Steadily time ticked down to the long awaited Mazda 787B demo run, which looked set to occur right on scheduled under dry conditions. A large crowd of spectators gathered around driver, Terada. As if in response to this, Mr Terada, always the avid showman, energetically tore out onto the course and sent the 4-rotor sound resounding around the circuit as he performed a 7-lap demo run. Even after the 787B returned to the pits there was a storm of applause from those who had gathered there to watch it come back.
At 2:00pm, the 19-car round of the Maz-Tai began. This time around, 3 teams of 12 members from the Mazda Women in Motorsports Project (Mazda WIM), along with a team consisting of Mazda directors and general managers were also competing. The WIM project began in April and, after 4 weekends of intensive training at the Mazda Mine Proving Grounds, 3 teams of 12 people (the “Selection Team”, “Model Team”, and “Housewife Team”) were chosen to compete in this Maz-Tai race behind the wheels of a couple of Mazda Roadsters. The Mazda directors and general managers team consisted of General Manager of the Global Sales & Marketing Division, Yasuhiro Aoyama, General Manager of the Powertrain Development Division, Ichiro Hirose, General Manager of the Customer Service Division, Ryuichi Umeshita, and General Manager Corporate Communications Division, Hidetoshi Kudo, who would also be competing in a roadster. In this race, which sees competitors compete for as long as possible over a time limit of 2 1/2 hours without refueling, the key to taking victory is achieving the perfect balance of driving quickly while also paying close attention to conserving fuel. As for the 3 Mazda WIM teams, all completed the race, with the “Housewife Team”* crossing the finishing line in 6th, the “Selection Team” grabbing 3rd step on the podium in their class, and the “Model Team”* passing the checkered flag in 12th. As for the Mazda directors and general managers team, they unfortunately ran out of gas right at the final lap and were unable to complete the race. You could tell by the looks of disappointment on their faces just how much this race had meant to them. We can only hope that they walk away from this race with renewed determination to reach the checkered flag next time. *The Housewife Team and Model Team competed under a special allowance, which means their results are not officially counted in the series rankings
On the stage, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, Program Manager for the MX-5 (Roadster), led a talk session discussing the all-new Roadster, while test-ride events were carried out at on an especially created venue. Along with this there were exhibitions on “monozukuri” (technical craftsmanship), as well displays of Mazda OB, Mikio Nakajima’s beautiful car illustrations, and so on, making a fun day for all that turned out. All the fans who paid a visit to the event could clearly be seen leaving with bright, satisfied smiles on their faces.
Photo by MZRacing