- Category: History
- Published: Tuesday, June 03 2014 09:57
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.
At the 1977 SCCA runoffs at Road Atlanta, Stu Fisher recorded a historic win for Mazda, taking the B Sedan title in his RX-3. It was the first of many National Championships for Mazda (now over 75 championships by Mazda and Mazda-powered cars, and still counting)!
The Mazda RX-7 made its competition debut in 1979, and won seven races at Road Atlanta over the next decade in IMSA competition with Bohren, Jack Baldwin, Amos Johnson, and Jeff Kline at the wheel. More recently, the Mazda MX-5 has established itself as one of the most successful club racers ever. In the new TUDOR United SportsCar Series, Mazda has entered a pair of diesel-powered prototypes, continuing the manufacturer’s motorsports legacy.