Highly-tuned rotary engines attack your senses in ways other blocks just can’t. Their harsh, zingy and vibrant buzz at idle sounds like an anger management class in a hornet’s nest. Under load, they sometimes elevate to the crisp sounds of the golden age of F1. Hearing one of them is a treat (even via the means of YouTube) but having a paddock full of them to yourselves, plus the keys to drive them, is something else.
That was the fortunate situation we found ourselves in recently. In one of the best corporate away-days ever, Mazda USA brought out its old cars to be driven because, well, they need to be driven. No nannying, no lap restrictions, just five cars parked in a pit lane, an unlimited-noise day at Laguna Seca and instructions to go and drive them. Sure beats falling off a table and praying a colleague will catch you.
The cars you see here are by no means a complete back catalogue, but they span 20 years of rotary racing, from 1973 to 1992, spanning 198bhp to 725bhp. From dinky but devilish hatches, an IMSA car and even a prototype, our man Ollie Marriage tried them all.
You can read how he got on here, and listen to them yourself if you click this link.
When you’re done, come back and treat yourself to some snaps from the gallery above to freshen up your desktop.
All you have to do is click the full screen/make-it-big icon in the bottom-right of the gallery above, scroll through the picture that takes your fancy and then save the super hi-res image.
Photography: Rowan Horncastle