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More than just one of the stars of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey is also an accomplished race car driver, who knows all too well the dangers of motorsports. With this weekend’s tragic accident at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, claiming the life of Dan Wheldon, Dempsey is joining a growing number in the tight knit racing community who are raising funds to support the two-time Indy 500 winner’s family.
IndyCar driver Graham Rahal is spearheading an auction to help raise funds for Wheldon’s two sons, two-year old Sebastian and infant Oliver. Initially a helmet auction, it has since expanded with the latest driver to lend a hand being Dempsey, who has donated the racing suit he wore this summer when he drove Mazda‘s 1991 Le Mans winning 787B race car around the famed Circuit de La Sarthe. He even signed the thing.
Dempsey has long been involved with Mazda and currently owns Dempsey Racing, which competes in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series with two RX-8 race car.
Official details of the auction are expected to be announced in the coming days. Those who want to help can also donate to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust fund at the Fifth Third Private Bank, , 251 N. Illinois St., Suite 1000, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
GALLERY: Mazda 787B Race Car
Marking the 20th anniversary of Mazda‘s victory in the world’s most demanding endurance race, the 24 Hour of Le Mans, Mazda has brought the winning Mazda 787B back from the dead.
Mazda’s 787B made history in 1991 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by becoming the first Japanese car to win the event. It’s victory lap was also its last as after 1991, rotary engines could not participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Jonny Herbert, who was behind the wheel 20 years ago, donned his nomex and racing helmet once again to hit the track. Mazda racer and TV star Patrick Dempsey also got a chance behind the wheel. Watch videos of the outing, plus an overview video of the 787B car’s 20th anniversary celebration after the jump!
Mazda announced today they have reached a production milestone of three million Mazda3 units as of April 26, 2011. The car is built in three factories (Japan, China, Thailand) and sold in roughly 90 countries and regions. In North America alone, over 1.1 million Mazda3s have been sold, becoming the fastest-selling model in Mazda’s current lineup of passenger vehicles.
Mazda has explained the success of this car through three factors: its distinctive design, its functionality, and its responsive handling. The wide range of models has also been a successful factor. Pricing has also been very competitive in the U.S starting at just over $16,000. The high performance Mazdaspeed3, has also been favorable to auto enthusiasts around the world.
It is quite an achievement for Mazda, considering it took nearly 22 years to hit 900,000 MX-5 Miatas. The Mazda3 three tripled that number in less than eight years.
Mazda’s senior managing executive officer, Hirotaka Kanazawa said, “Its sustained global success has seen it grow into Mazda’s mainstay model, and it now comprises a third of all Mazda vehicle sales.”
Hit the jump to see a list of the top 10 Best Selling Cars of All Time
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.
Gallery: Mazda 787B
We all love those impromptu drives on backroads where you can exceed the post limits just a little, without the action getting too dangerous. Once in a while, you’ll be following someone with a nice car that can actually drive well and set a good pace.
The driver of a Mazdaspeed 3 thought it was going to happen when a BMW 335i sedan pulled out in front of him and started driving quickly. Unfortunately, the BMW driver used all of his 5 brain cells to display an embarrassing spectacle of road rage that we can only attribute to misuse of anabolic steroids, or his dismay in seeing a Mazda hatchback keep pace with his (probably) leased 3-series.
It’s a good thing this took place in California. In a state with less restrictive concealed carry laws, someone could have been hurt very badly in this exchange.
Racing legends Peter Brock and John Morton will fly their famous #46 red, white, and blue pattern on a classic Japanese roadster once again. But rather than on the Datsuns that made this livery so renowned, it will be on the most popular roadster ever sold or raced, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The car will fly the BRE colors next weekend as part of Round 2 of the 2010 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup at Road Atlanta.
After the decision was made to honor Peter Brock of BRE at the upcoming 2010 Classic Motorsports Mitty at Road Atlanta, one of the biggest vintage racing weekends of the year on the east coast, Mazda sketched up a BRE graphics package for the MX-5 and then got Morton and Brock onboard. With 2010 being the 40th anniversary of Morton’s SCCA C Production (CP) Championship at Road Atlanta in a BRE prepared racecar and his racing career including more than a few race wins with Mazda, the connection was strong.
As Peter Brock stated, “It’s been some 37 years since a factory supported car in BRE livery sat on a racing grid. Seeing the new MX-5 in our traditional colors almost brings tears to my eyes. It’s wonderful that Mazda, a company that really loves, understands and supports racing of all kinds, has seen fit to honor our team’s great racing history with this new spirit of competition”
According to John Morton, “This Walter Mitty weekend is very special for me because it is bringing together so many facets that were significant in my racing career. First is the reunion and recognition of our championship winning BRE team that Peter Brock developed in the late sixties and that led me to two SCCA National Championships and two 2.5 Trans-Am Championships in the early seventies. Second is the opportunity Mazda has given me to race in a professional race in my sixth decade of competition. Twenty-six years ago I shared the BFG-sponsored, class winning Mazda Lola at Le Mans which was the beginning of a long relationship with both companies. The Mazda Miata MX-5 I will be racing at the Mitty, the only real modern sports car in mass production, is a reincarnation of the cars that started this sport in America in the late forties.”
Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Mazda North American Operations, added, “Mazda is a team of enthusiasts. Long before we began working behind the scenes for Mazda, we were race fans. We love the sport and the heritage. This opportunity to pay tribute to Pete, John, and the BRE team is something we did out of respect, with knowledge that there are others like us who appreciate the blending of heritage and modern sport.”
Mazda unveiled the BRE MX-5 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in the Mothers Polish display within the fan expo. If you are a fan of BRE, we recommend you pack your best 70′s wardrobe and get yourself to Road Atlanta on April 29th thru May 2nd.
It’s now official, the 2010 MazdaSpeed3 has made it to U.S. shores. On display at the New York Auto Show the new model isn’t drastically different than the old one, it even keeps the same 2.3-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine. Power is rated at 263 and 280 ft-lbs of torque.
This is enough for a 0-62 mph run of 6.1 seconds, so the run to 60 might be able to get under the 6.0-second mark.
As for the rest of the car, we’re happy to report that it has not been toned down from the Euro-spec version and that it seems every new innovation on the Euro-spec car has been kept for enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic.
In terms of technological advancements, the MazdaSpeed3 has plenty of them. For starters the new engine features an advanced boost controller that reduces peaks for a more linear power delivery. The left and right drive shafts have been modified to reduce torque steer. The six-speed manual transmission now has wider ratios than before and the tranny uses a low-viscosity fluid to reduce shift effort.
With the new body and chassis, the 2010 MazdaSpeed3 is naturally better, however, it also gets large stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and shocks. As well, it now features 18-inch wheels with big brakes – 12.6-inches up front and 11-inches in the rear.
GALLERY: 2010 MazdaSpeed3
More on the 2010 MazdaSpeed3 after the jump:
Mazda finished the day at Sebring yesterday with the fastest car during the first practice session ahead of the 2009 World Challenge Touring Car season.
Jason Saini, piloting the Tri-Point No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart Mazda, posted the best lap time at the end of the day with a 2:25.294 on the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit.
“Conditions were a bit variable,” Saini said. “It was damp this morning, but it got better throughout the session. It was hard to learn what the car was really doing in the changing conditions. I was lucky to have a late lap when the conditions were getting better every lap.”
“The team has done such a great job pulling things together in short order. So many people pulled together to make this happen at the last minute. All credit to the team for staying up late all last week and getting these cars together.”
The Tri-Point team of Mazda6′s also claimed 4th and 6th for the day with Charles Espenlaub piloting the No. 73 car and rookie Eric Foss in the No. 75 car taking the respective positions.
Much of the rest of the top 10 was filled with the RealTime Racing Acura TSXs with Kuno Wittmer taking 2nd, Pierre Kleinubing taking 3rd and Toby Grahovec taking 7th. Defending World Challenge Touring Car Champion Peter Cunningham, the only driver piloting a new TSX vehicle, placed 5th.
Finishing out the top ten were Andrew Aquilante and his Subaru WRX in 8th, Nick Esayian in his BMW 328i in 9th and James Clay in his BMW 328i in 10th.
The World Challenge Touring Car Series kicks-off with the opening race this Friday, March 20th .
Full Practice Session results after the jump:
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We recently reported that Mazda would officially unveil a new version of the Mazdaspeed3 at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show in March. First Mazda teased us with some pictures of the hot hatch and now we have this video.
We’ll be sure to bring you full details on the car from the Geneva Auto Show floor on March 3rd.
Mazda has crushed speculation that there may not be a new version of the MazdaSpeed3 by announcing that the new performance version of the popular Mazda3 5-door hatchback will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March.
The 2010 model will continue to use the 2.3-liter direct injection and turbocharged four-cylinder engine although power should receive a mild increase.
The Mazdaspeed3 is sold in Japan as the MPS Axela and in Europe as the MAZDA3 MPS.
Sharing the press conference in Geneva will be the Mazda3 i-stop, which features a new technology paired to the Mazda3′s 2.0 DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) engine for a 12 percent reduction in fuel-consumption.
We’ll be sure to bring you more info and photos from the show floor in Geneva starting March 3rd.
Official release after the jump: