As hard as Toyota might try, Mazda remains the only Japanese manufacturer ever to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The landmark victory came 25 years ago and to mark the anniversary, it will run the iconic livery you see here at Watkins Glen this weekend.
When Mazda won the race in ’91, it was with the now-legendary 787B. The car, which Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot drove to the checkered flag after 362 laps, beating out rivals from Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche and Peugeot, was powered by a 2.6-liter quad-rotor Wankel engine.
That is reason enough to put the 787B in the record books on its track record alone, but its iconic status was further entrenched by its dramatic neon orange and green livery. The color scheme was inspired by sponsor Renown, known for making argyle socks. Now that livery will adorn the 2016 racer.
These days Mazda fields a pair of LMP2 prototypes in the IMSA’s SportsCar Championship, powered by a 2.0-liter diesel four instead of a rotary engine. The series will mark its halfway point with Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen this weekend in upstate New York. There the #55 car will sport the orange and green livery directly inspired by the 787B, while the second #70 car will wear a similar pattern but in the company’s contemporary colors of red and silver.
Driving duties will be shared by Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot in car #55, while Tom Long, Joel Miller and Ben Devlin alternate in car #70. The teams currently sits in fifth and seventh place in the prototype standings, respectively, on the back of car #55’s podium finish at Belle Isle at the beginning of June.