Mazda has something good in store at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. In what’s becoming a bit of a tradition for Mazda North American Operations, it’s adding a restored race car to its Heritage Collection: the #202 767B that raced at the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Though history remembers the 1991 victory of the 787B most vividly, you may recall from our our account that Mazda’s road to Le Mans victory was a long one spanning over a decade of attempts and incremental improvements to rotary engine technology.
The #202 767B, notably, was one of the first Mazda racers painted in the iconic orange-and-green Renown/CHARGE livery. Also, it was powered by Mazda’s first four-rotor race engine, the 13J — originally introduced a year prior but now tuned to its ultimate form and putting out 630hp thanks to variable-length induction system and ceramic apex seals. New developments to the chassis included use of titanium and carbon fiber-aluminum composites to reduce weight.
It finished the race in 9th place at Le Mans, driven by Takashi Yorino, Hervé Regout, and Elliott Forbes-Robinson. This, along with the 7th and 12th places taken by its stablemates and several 1st-place finishes in JSPC, gave Mazda an IMSA GTP class win that year.
This important car in Mazda’s racing history— chassis 767B-002 —has now undergone a two-year comprehensive restoration at Downing/Atlanta. The shop is owned by Jim Downing, who raced numerous RX-2s, RX-3s, and RX-7s in IMSA and is very much a part of Mazda’s racing legacy. The same shop has also restored the 787, RX-792P, and IMSA GTO RX-7 in Mazda’s Heritage Collection.
As was the case during Mazda’s Le Mans conquest, support for the 767B’s re-building comes from top management. “Mazda has a never give up attitude and it is exemplified in the 767B,” says Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations and managing executive officer of Mazda Motor Corporation. “The race track is the perfect environment to showcase our history of continuous innovation. We use our historic racecars, not as static reminders of the past, but rolling, screaming, fire-breathing brand ambassadors for the future.”
You can catch the public debut of this fire-breathing racing legend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Motorsports Reunion, August 19-21. We’d advise you to bring ear plugs. The sound of an unmuffled racing rotary, especially something as special as the 4-rotor 13J, is unlike anything you’ll hear. Curiously, the fabled Mazda basement now houses all the key Mazda prototype racer types from 757 to MXR-01. Perhaps a 717C is in order next?