Relish the sound of the 4-rotor trio
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is held every August at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which is located close to Monterey, a resort region in California about 150 miles from San Francisco. As the largest historic car race in the US, a huge variety of machines, ranging from pre-war classics to rockets from the 1990s, gather, are divided into categories and compete in a mock race. Over 300 vehicles participate. With the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance also being held at a nearby golf course on the same weekend, there are more than a few car fanatics who spend an extended stay down here every year.
The theme of this year’s Monterey Reunion was “CAM-AM Race Machines.” “CAN-AM” is a category whose glory days hark back to the 1960s and 70s and, as the name suggests, its races were alternately held at tracks located in Canada and America. The category was all about speed and power, with the large number of competing vehicles being open body sports cars and all emanating the unique exhaust sound of a V8 OHV engine. In conjunction with this event, to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the luxury brand, Maserati, put on display its race cars from every single year since its inception.
It has become an established custom for Mazda USA, which makes this track its home course, to set up a huge tent in the center of the paddock and to carry out a demonstration run of machines sporting 4-rotor engines from the 1990s. This year 3 vehicles where on display; the Mazda 787, which competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1990-91, the Mazda RX-7 GTO, which in 1991 scored its 100th win in IMSA competition, and the Mazda RX-792P which competed in the IMSA GTP in 1992. As an IMSA GTO spec space frame race car, the RX-7 GTO’s 4-rotor engine is mounted in the front of the machine. Serving as its driver was Mazda USA’s director of public relations and brand experience, Jeremy Barnes. The Mazda 787, rebuilt a few years previously, is a group C car with a midship mounted R26B 4-rotor engine and is a base model of the well known 787B. Taking the wheel of the 787 was Sylvain Tremblay, who is currently competing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (TUSC) in the Mazda SKYACTIV-D prototype. Tremblay had sustained some minor injuries at a crash in the TUSC race held at Road America last week, but he did not disappoint the fans and turned out as scheduled. Finally, driving the Mazda RX-792P was Mazda USA Manager of Partner Affairs, Weldon Munsey, a veteran driver who participated in Formula Mazda. The RX-792P is a prototype car with an R26B engine mounted into the rear of a full carbon monocoque body. The harmony of these 3 cars emitting their 4-rotor engine roars in unison has become known as the “4-rotor trio,” and a large number of fans from San Francisco to LA come out to experience it.
Since, it has been more than 20 years since the chassis of these cars were first assembled, every year they experience minor trouble such as oil leaks or pieces of the body coming off in the midst of the race. This year was no different with the 787 breaking its drive shaft joint and being forced to drive at a slow pace on Friday. However, whenever these things happen, the Mazda USA mechanics completely repair the problem and put the car back out onto the track. Every Mazda fan should make an effort to come out to this event. Every category is assigned approximately 20-30 minutes of track time a day and the 4 days from Thursday to Friday, consist of practice, qualification, race 1 and race 2. The exact schedule for next year is yet to be confirmed but it will be posted on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca website before long.
Photo by MZRacing