A Bustling Two Days for the 5th Mazda Fan Festa
The Mazda Fan Festa in Okayama 2016 was held over December 3rd (Sat) to 4th (Sun) at Okayama International Circuit, Miyako, Okayama Prefecture where a large number of Mazda car owners and fans gathered to enjoy the entertainment. Although Saturday was blessed with warm weather, Sunday afternoon unfortunately met with rain, but despite this, the festival, which has been held since 2012, saw approximately 6,500 people turn out to take part. The visitors were treated to a variety of exciting Mazda content such as course events, “monozukuri” (craftsmanship) displays, “Jinba Ittai” (“unity of rider and horse”) lectures, test drive experiences, “history corners,” and so on.
This time around the climax of the Mazda Fan Festa was the demo run performed by the Mazda Prototype machine of Mazda USA’s official team and the #55 Mazda 787B driven by Yojiro Terada. Early in the morning on the 2nd Mazda USA Motorsports Director, John Doonan, young gun driver Tristan Nunez (21), Tom Long, who took charge of the development of the MX-5 Cup Car, their engineer Zach and mechanic, Mike, arrived at Haneda Airport and immediately transferred to a plane to Okayama, arriving at the circuit at noon. On that afternoon, the Mazda prototype also arrived by trailer and preparations for its run began. It is universally understood by racing teams that even on long trips, taking care of your race car is always what comes first.
The opening ceremony was held in the afternoon on Saturday the 3rd, after which the festival officially began. On this day a 77-car Mazda Fan Circuit Trial run, a Global MX-5 Cup Car exhibition race, a 19 machine strong Roadster Party Race III national shootout and 30-car RX-8 one-make “Eightlien Cup” race were held. On the 4th the 52-car Mazda Fan Endurance race was also held and, adding to these, 16 legend race cars, 8 currently active Super Taikyu machines, rally cars, and gymkhana vehicles, the paddock was brimming with a phenomenal 210 Mazda machines. This was by far the largest gathering to date. Along with that, a total of 240 regular cars from owners’ clubs that would take part in the parade and so on, came out, while fans from all over the Chugoku/Shikoku region filled out the parking area with their own cars, beginning from the first generation Roadster RF, to put them on display. Adding to this the test cars, there were easily a few hundred Mazda cars present.
An exciting moment came on Saturday during the national shootout for the Roadster Party Race III. Mazda Women in Motorsports project member, Anna Inotsume secured the coveted pole position, surprising the champions of the East, North and West Japan series. However, those fierce rivals proved to be composed in the final and East Japan champion, Tsuyoshi Umeda ultimately took victory to become Japan’s No. 1 driver, with 2nd going to North Japan series champion Yuki Kamakura. Inotsume finished in 4th, with West japan series Champion, Eiichi Honda following in 5th. As expected the final champion shootout was much more edge-of-your-seat than a regular Party Race tournament. Having risen to Japan’s No. 1 Party Race spot, Umeda stated, “I missed out on the championship last year in the last round, and I regretted the one error I made for an entire year, so I’m ecstatic to have been able to become the national No. 1. I was beaten in the qualifying round, but I was able to regain my composure in the final race. In my two years competing in the Party Race, my sportsmanship and attitude towards racing in general has been built up through the help of Mr Terada.” At around 3pm the legend car runs began and the long awaited run from the Mazda 787B and Mazda Prototype was carried out. The Nunez driven Mazda prototype entered into safe mode in the middle of his run and he was unable to properly display the performance of their machine. However, they changed the setting data for the following day and were able to truly show the might of this car. The #55 Mazda 787B performed well right from the get go and the 4-rotor sound reverberated around the track. With a low road surface temperature the tire grip was a struggle but Terada regaled all the fans in the grandstand with the car’s full throttled roar. It was clear that all those present were thrilled with the experience.
On the 4th the main race was the Mazda Endurance / Super Taikyu race in which the Murakami Motors ND Roadster came out the victor. The two “Jinba Ittai” ND Roadsters driven by Mazda executives and management, 2 Mazda Women in Motorsports ND Roadster entries, also successfully completed the race and passed the checkered flag. Winner, Hiroyuki Murakami stated, “We experienced rain during the race, but I was able to race to my utmost without worrying about conserving fuel. I definitely want to take the win against next year so will definitely be competing.”
Finally, we will end with the closing words of Mazda USA’s John Doonan. “There are three pillars to Mazda USA’s motorsports activities. One is to run it like a business. The next is to honor the Mazda spirit of all those pioneers who came before us. Then there is the principle of “Jinba Ittai,” KODO soul of motion design and SKYACTIV technology that encapsulates the Mazda philosophy. All the people here speak Japanese. We speak English. However, there is one thing that crosses those boundaries. The Mazda spirit. We greatly appreciate your continued support for Mazda USA motorsports.”