Watch: old Mazdas spitting flames at Laguna Seca

Back in the 1960s Mazda realised that it had to broaden its horizons, or else face extinction from its home market in Japan. It acquired the rights to a rotary engine from the NSU in Germany, and the Cosmo it produced as a result marked a turning point in the manufacturer’s history.

They also caught on to the fact that their new power unit – compact and richly powerful – was ideal for racing. Cue glorious machines like the RX-2, the RX-7, the MX-6 and the RX-792P. Among others, obviously.

At this point we introduce Ollie Marriage – TG’s resident professor of speed – in order to chuck 20 years of Mazda’s precious motorsport history around Laguna Seca. We’re pleased to report that not one of the 1,863bhp given to the Prof. that day fell foul of the infamous Corkscrew, proof of which can be found in the video above.  

Everyone goes on about how rotary-engined cars sound. Some suggest they’re as angry as a woodmill bandsaw, others that they’re shriller and more irritating than a mosquito in your inner ear. No one ever mentions the smell…

For more on the noises and aromas of Mazda’s rotary-engined racers, TopGear magazine is out now.

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