Driving Enthusiast, Historic, Inspiration, Motor Racing, Racing, Track Driving, Video

Charge Mazda 787B

Yup, its the classic Group C Charge Mazda 787B that we want to share. You’re probably wondering what the difference is between the 787 and 787B. Well it comes down to this: the 787B has an ECU to controlld the action of the telescopic intake for the rotary engine – how cool is that?!

However we are not focusing on how cool this car looks, but rather how GREAT it sounds! This year at the 2014 Spa Classic we found a lad who strapped a GoPro to the inside of the Mazda 787B that he was racing. Enjoy the great video demonstrating how difficult it is to pilot one of these types of cars around the famed Spa Francorchamp Circuit.

Here are some additional sounds of the race winning Mazda 787B, that was restored, and driven in demonstration laps at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Automotive, Cars, Driving Enthusiast

Rotary Power

IMG_0096 1994_mazda_rx-7_2_dr_turbo_hatchback-pic-8393138134168043057 Mazda did something that no one in the world would have thought possible – mass produce a rotary engine. Well they did it, and over the years with progress the team at Mazda put together a car to fight head-on with Porsche. The last US version available was the third generation RX-7 FD3S selling from 1992 to 1995. The car was introduced at a time when gas prices were pushing higher and most households were closing their wallets to low MPG cars. In the end,  maybe what the RX-7 is best known for is its greatest downfall – the rotary engine. Everything about this car is wonderful, except that little hot spinning ticking time bomb that struggled to keep up with efficient piston motors.

The car setup is perfectly neutral with a 50:50 distribution that handles each driver input with ease. The steering wheel is much larger than what most drivers are used to, but it allows for precise steering. It’s so large that heel-toe is nearly impossible since the driver’s thigh will be obstructed by the 6 o’clock area of the steering wheel. It’s nimble 2,800 lb frame is the prime reason this car was called a giant killer. Pair this car against any opponent and the odds were this car would leave it in the corners around the track – think Porsche again. They made the recipe for a great car easy – take the 2,800 pound body and pair it with Mazda’s 1.3 liter engine (13B-REW)  which comes equipped with twin sequential turbo chargers that serves  252 ponies with 217 lb-ft of torque. In the end you get a machine that flies through all RPMs and even provides strong low-end torque. When we say flies – it redlines around 7,000 RPMs, while max power is produced at 6,500 RPMs.  Just don’t try to work on the car alone. The engine bay was crammed to the fenders with a rats nest of tubing and pipes.

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However the car  does come with a learning curve. The unique operating procedure of the sequential turbos would leave some unknowing drivers spinning in their pants as there is a dip in power as the turbos shift from the primary to the secondary around 4K – 4.5K RPMs, causing a kick from the secondary turbo lag. A decent tune would usually eliminate this issue. Another area that made this car so great was the cockpit. That’s exactly how it feels. It’s not as if the driver gets into the car to drive it, but rather straps the car onto his/her back and blasts off. The tight cockpit has all buttons within arms reach and only provides the pilot with the necessary read outs. Everything else was discarded, including cup holders, making longer road trips a death trap if you choose to eat or drink while driving.

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This car was designed to be a grand tourer in the USA, pairing the driver with the road. But if it was necessary to listen to music, fear not – the Bose Wave system was created especially for this car to help amplify the sound waves throughout the tiny cabin from the back of the trunk. Fuel capacity offers the driver 20 U.S. gallons of petrol – yes, it holds 20 gallons of fuel, which is pretty much unheard of these days.

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However with every great story comes a tragic ending. The RX-7 FD was soon forgotten as a road warrior due to it’s fickle engine life. The little wankel engine worked itself to death and at 60,000 miles the engine would more than likely blow up (basically the seals within the engine would give). This catastrophic failure would cost the owner a pretty penny in repairs if not caught soon enough. These cars have since become more affordable, but it does come with a warning. The owner of this vehicle will be forever in fear of an explosion that will bring the car to a halt requiring a messy clean up. But for those brief moments of driving on the twisty roads this car is nothing but pure driving bliss.

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Automotive, Cars, Driving Enthusiast

Tail of the Dragon

Shortly after the Skip Barber Open House I was on a 15 hour road trip to the greatest motorcycle destination on the east coast – Deal’s Gap or Tail on the Dragon. The stretch of road where US Route 129 crosses the state boarder from North Carolina to Tennessee is where the tail of the dragon is located. The seducing curves of the dragon attacks every driver; in fact every driver is faced with 311 curves within an 11 mile stint with the posted speed limit of just 30 mph. Even though the speed limit is 30 mph most drivers will actually be attempting around 45 mph to 60 mph throughout the entire stretch of road. The hardest part of the driving the dragon is slowing for causal drivers and local traffic; most people want to try a full speed run throughout, but they fail to remember that people actually live out there – long before it became a successful destination road. So it’s advised to wake up a bit earlier and tackle the roads before the crowds awake. There is also the local police to watch out for, but the big secret is maintain your speed while in the straights (as that’s the most obvious spot to get caught) and to NOT cross the double yellow lines. Crossing the lines is how the majority of accidents happen at the dragon.

During my trip down to the dragon, I was faced with rainy weather for the second day which limited the speeds on the curves. However this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits as it was an epic challenge to really push one’s self through the corners. I was pretty amazed that tackling the corners at speed actually requires more mental strength than physical strength. Even from the first day I arrived I was exhausted from the first four runs as the road was still very new to me. Below is a short video of the twisties at tail of the dragon. Think of the tissue box as an accelerometer.

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