Mazdafarians far and wide came to the recent SevenStock 18, the premiere showcase of rotary-powered Hiroshima heroes. Held at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the all-day festival mixed a car show, track day, and basically anything that was Mazda rotary-themed.
Mazda North America of course brought out a squadron of rotary racers from their R&D basement, including their 13B-powered IMSA GTU Mazda MX-6 and the #62 four-rotor IMSA GTO FC3S.
All of Mazda’s cars ran laps around the speedway, banked for NASCAR antics. This year they were joined by a very special car — their replica of the 1979 24 Hours of Daytona class-winning IMSA GTU RX-7, which the crew just recently got running again. This is serial number 00007, the seventh ‘7 ever made.
Unfortunately, when you run the cars, things do go wrong. When this historic RX-2 came back with a hood askew and sticking up in the air, we were afraid something disastrous had happened to the first Mazda to win a professional racing event in North America.
Thankfully, it was an easy fix. The structure of the hood had separated from the skin. “Forty-year-old glue,” commented the Mazda crew nonchalantly.
An autocross event held on the infield tarmac attracted many, including an FD that appeared to answer the question, “What if Keisuke Takahashi was actually James Bond?”
From circuit destroyers to 950-horse drag demons, the full breadth of the rotary engine’s racing prowess could be seen just a few feet from one another.
Some insane members of the Angel Motorsports family took a drive from Virginia Beach in a REPU that looked like it had been rescued from a salt mine. To mark four days on the road, they completed a relaxing transmission swap during the show.
Angel Motorsports specializes in rotary engine builds like this one. If the cross-country trip in a newly built motor is any indication, they are very good at what they do.
A patriotic trio of local RX-7s, all of which had Angel-built motors, helped showcase the company’s wares.
One of them was an old friend, Smith McGehee, who ran the JNC Touge California earlier this year. With a new set of shoes his RX-7 is also serving as the testbed for an upcoming Koyorad aluminum radiator for first-gen RX-7s.
We admired the Ibarra brothers’ collection of rotary gems at JCCS, but something was missing: Abel’s R100 was the car that launched his rotary drag racing career and became the first Japanese car to be inducted into the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
Rotary keychains, pins, and model kits were available for purchase at various vendor booths. One FD kit in particular seemed to confuse the paint scheme of one famous movie star Supra. The Cosmo Sport police car, on the other hand, was supremely cool.
The R100 was Mazda’s first “accessible” rotary car (the Cosmo Sport being far too expensive for the average Japanese consumer in the late 60s). With a sub-1800-pound curb weight, it became a favorite for drag racers once 12A and 13B motors became prevalent. That’s probably why there are so few of R100s left today, with only three total at the entire show (and one of them an Australian import).
There was no RX-2 shortage whatsoever, from candy-flake street machines to faded works-in-progress to cars that still had dealer-installed vinyl roofs. Named the Capella in Japan, it was Mazda’s second effort to create a deluxe rotary-powered sedan. Today, it would be known as the Mazda 6. At 2,130 pounds its still a featherweight by modern standards, but it was over 300 pounds heavier than an R100.
Any car with Mazda rotary was welcome, but that doesn’t mean they were all Mazdas. Several Datsun 510s, including a couple of wagons, and a 240Z had had their primitive reciprocators swapped out with spinners.
Don’t mind the numbers in Mazda’s naming scheme. The RX-3 was smaller and lighter than the RX-2, making it once again hugely popular for racers of all stripes. We’ve been to SevenStocks that have barely had an RX-3 presence at all, but this year they came out of the woodwork in force.
There was even a pair of the rare RX-3 SP US-only appearance package. It’s nearly impossible to find a complete set of the SP parts, which is why only one of them has the larger air dam and the other has the side window louvers.
Amazingly, there wasn’t just one but two extremely rare RX-3 sedans.
Slightly less scarce, but only by a hair, are the RX-3 wagons.
Topping the rarity charts, however, is the piston-powered 808 wagon. This is the first one we’d ever seen in person, but it already been swapped with a rotary.
The RX-4 was saddled by showing up on US shores right after the 1973 OPEC Oil Crisis. They are rare today, but a few made it to the show: one primered JDM Luce, a resto-modded USDM coupe, and the Ibarras’ mint wagon, which we featured in depth at JCCS.
The number of REPUs entered into the double digits, making this quite possibly the largest gathering of the Rotary Engine Pick Up in the world since they were at the dealerships.
Speaking of trucks, the California Haulin’ rotary-powered B-series is quite possibly the most 80s truck ever built. Used as a Racing Beat show car, it featured a bed that carried a custom-paired jetski.
Not surprisingly, there was a maddening number of RX-7s. After all, it’s where the event got its name. Unlike the earlier RX models, most SA22C seemed to be comparatively tame when it came to modifications. A slight drop, some nice Epsilons or BBSes and that was it. Few emitted the ported brap brap brap that the chrome bumpered classics did.
Perhaps the cleanest first-gen RX-7 was a 1979 Limited Edition, of which only 3,000 were made. This unrestored one had only 26,000 miles and change on the odometer, and was unbelievably mint. Even the plastics in the engine bay were still shiny.
Sneaking up from nowhere was a superb Japanese zokusha-style SA22C, complete with RE Amemiya-style aero kit, an Olio Fiat street spoiler, and old school and louvers. It’s extremely rare that we see an RX-7 that looks like it came straight from Japan, so we were very pleased to see this homage to the tuning styles of the motherland.
After the SA22C, the second most prevalent platform was the FC3S. The second-gen RX-7s have not quite achieved the revered status of the first-gens yet, but a few clean examples could be found.
This Series 4 GXL was the cleanest one at the show.
The quintessential California cars.
There’s just a couple more years until the FD3S achieves proper 25 year classic status, but it was encouraging to see at least a few owners that opted for minimal or clean modifications.
Not quite nostalgic yet, but here’s a row of monochromatic RX-8.
Where there were classic Mazdas, there were modern ones. Someone’s Mazda3 daily driver lurked beside the paddocks. Brand loyalty runs deep with Mazdafarians.
Last but not least, our favorite car of the show was this replica of the second 24 Hours of Daytona IMSA GTU racer. Those stripes aren’t decals, they’re painted on. The owner bought it from an 80-plus year old lady who kept it pristine even though it had over 300,000 miles on the chassis and was on its third engine. A chance discovery of a Pacific widebody kit became the inspiration for this Daytona tribute. Look for a feature on this car in the future.