One of the most successful manufacturers at Road Atlanta is Mazda. The Mazda RX-7 was a dominant force in IMSA sports car racing, winning numerous races and championships. But the Mazda success story began in the 1970s with the rotary powered Mazda RX-2 and RX-3 models.
Pat Bedard of Car & Driver magazine prepared a Mazda RX-2 project car for the IMSA sedan series, and its immediate success including a win at Road Atlanta in 1973 brought rules that penalized the rotary engine. Walt Bohren purchased the car and campaigned the RX-2 successfully, winning at Road Atlanta in 1976. Atlanta-based racer Jim Downing and South Carolinian Roger Mandeville were also pioneers of the Mazda rotary, winning numerous races in the 1970s.
Dozens of manufacturers have competed at Road Atlanta over the past four decades, but one stands out as a major force in every era. Porsche began its winning ways at Road Atlanta in 1973 and has never looked back.
Following the demise of the IMSA Camel GT series in 1993, the new World Sports Car (WSC) concept began the following year. The WSC formula emphasized open cockpit prototypes, unlike the out-going GTP cars. Gone were the days of the Porsche 962, Toyota Eagle, Nissan ZXT GTP, Jaguar prototypes and others.
Some former GTP cars were being “converted” to WSC specs, but the big news was Ferrari constructing a purpose-built WSC entry, known as the Ferrari 333SP. Built in conjunction with Dallara, it would be the first Ferrari sports racer in many years competing for an overall victory.