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Zoom-Zoom for Years
Mazda-mania just happened over the weekend, with a record setting 683 Miatas parading in Lelystad, Netherlands. The sight of so many Mazda enthusiasts jogged our foggy memories, and helped us to remember our own personal connections with the brand, as well as some of the greatest Mazda’s of all time.
Perhaps best known for the MX-5 Miata, Mazda has done a lot more than make small roadsters. In an era when many said the small Japanese automaker would have to partner with a bigger industry player, Mazda (as usual) took the road less traveled, engineering new chassis, new engines and an attractive new design language. Combined, it has surprised with an excellent new lineup of vehicles, like the 2014 Mazda6 and CX-5.
Much of that same philosophy and attitude has led Mazda to offer up some impressive models over the years, making the world stand up and take notice. Take a look at this top 10 of the greatest Mazdas over the years, and be sure to pipe in with your own favorites.
Several weeks back Mazda announced it would return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, showcasing its 787B race car, which took the overall win back in 1991.
Now the Japanese automaker has announced that driving the car will be done other than McDreamy himself, Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey. While best known for his acting, Dempsey is more than just a gentleman racer having competed in motorsports for years and even founding his own racing team. While rumor is his Grey’s days are over, perhaps he should look to a full time career in motorsports, after his third place finish at this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona showed just how skilled behind the wheel he is. Dempsey will squeeze the “at speed” laps into his schedule, racing his Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 at Watkins Glen the week before, and then heading to Watkins Glen for the next round of the Grand-Am series.
“I’ve been a member of the Mazdaspeed family since 2007,” said Dempsey. “I race a three-rotor RX-8 in Grand-Am GT competition, and Mazda allowed me to drive the amazing RX-792P at Mazda Raceway last year. I love the heritage of the sport, and to be given the chance to drive THE car that scored the highest-visibility win in Mazda’s storied racing history is indeed an honor.”
With that win back in 1991 Mazda became the first Japanese automaker to win outright at Le Mans, a record Honda, Toyota or Nissan have yet to match.
In addition, Johnny Herbert, who helped drive the 787B to victory in 1991 will also take laps in the 700-hp four-rotor race car.
GALLERY: Mazda 787B
Marking the 20th anniversary of Mazda‘s victory in the world’s most demanding endurace race, the 24 Hour of Le Mans, Mazda has brought the winning Mazda 787B back from the dead.
Since winning in 1991, the Mazda 787B has been on display at the Mazda Museum in Horishima, Japan. The car has been carefully restored since its last 1991 post race overhaul, to open for the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. The 79th annual race begins Saturday June 11 at 3 p.m. Additionally, the 787B will also take part in the Driver’s Parade through the Le Mans City center on Friday 10.
The 787B was powered by a four-rotor rotary engine that produced 700-hp. The 787B was the first and only Japanese car to win the 24 Hour of Le Mans. After 1991, rotary engines could not participate in the 24 Hour of Le Mans.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, members of the 1991 Mazda team will also return to Le Mans. The winning driver Johnny Herbert (England) will be joined by 1991 Mazda drivers David Kennedy (Ireland), Pierre Dieudonné (Belgium) and other team members.