This screaming rotary Mazda is the ultimate Frankenstein's car
There are cars and there are cars. Are we right? A Range Rover is from an entirely different planet to, say, an Audi R18 Le Mans racer.
Such a curious analysis of the existential status of the car passed through our minds back in November at Daytona. We were bent over in pain as the ear-splitting RAP of an unknown wedge rendered the would-be musical V12 of a Jaguar XJR-7 utterly mute on its way out of the infield and onto the banking towards “bus stop”.
This indiscriminate little thing would be lost in a 962’s wheelbase. It's a single-seater with a diving snout and a big wing, but you couldn’t look at it clearly for long enough. Partly because the thing was off like a slingshot and partly because if you opened your eyes enough to see it when it was close, the noise would have them rattling in their sockets. In spite of a strong desire to preserve our hearing, we had to investigate this thing. Best to catch those entrusted with its care while the ignition was firmly “off”…
One thing that was blatantly obvious, if you hadn’t worked it out from the use of the onomatopoeic RAP to describe the sound, was that this was a rotary. Everything else spec wise about this felt-ripping insectoid machine was relayed by its driver, Tyler Pappas: "It uses a Jim Russell Formula Star Mazda chassis from the ‘80s with a custom body. It runs a peripheral port 13B rotary in it from Steve Durst’s IMSA Camel lights Tiga GT285 with a Hewland FT200 transmission. Power goes to the ground through Formula Atlantic tyres."
So we’ll call it a Mazda given the engine and chassis but this little blighter was no product of the brilliant minds back in Hiroshima. A brainwave occurs. This has everything in common with the aero-engined monsters of the Members’ Meeting S.F. Edge Trophy and upcoming Bolster Cup. It’s a cobble-job special with race-parts of yesteryear from all disciplines coming together with custom-built cladding and ground-up tuning to create something to go as fast as possible. That was the post-war ethos. Find bits, slap them together, fuel up and go like hell.
We asked Tyler what it was like to drive. Given the lunacy of the thing, his response was relatively methodical, focusing on low-speed understeer. "There’s a natural understeer to it, but once you get back on the gas it’s easy to balance it out." Tyler tells GRR. "Over 100mph it does pretty well. Anything under that it’s got a pretty bad push. We always work with that, get it set on the banking and it's very stable.We got it to where it’s at now last year. We did the Mitty, VIR, Watkins Glen. We’ve done all the big US tracks.
The speed… the noise… "Yeah, it totally rips…" chuckles Tyler. "It’s not keeping up with the 962s on the straights, but we qualified above some of them in the standings. Top 3 in Group C. We have the radio that we’ve been using for coms, but we can only hear through it under braking!"