Mazda Basement Tour – Race Cars

The Mazda Basement Series

Click the links above to go straight to a particular tour blog.

The Holy Land.

The Holy Land.

And that’s the big reveal! I was in California because I was invited to be a part of a tour of the Mazda R&D Basement.

The Basement. OMG

Such history

Such history – click to view larger

You may have heard stories about the Basement or read the various accounts of those who have visited. There’s been quite a few blog posts about it over the years and some great photos. But *I* have never gone and physically been on that hallowed ground.

Cliff notes: Mazda has this underground garage known as the R&D Basement. They keep a bunch of their historic cars there including ex-race cars, unique show cars, cars with important build numbers, and others. And all of these are REAL working cars that are driven to shows and events. They’re constantly rotating in and out and being maintained.

This is not a museum. It’s more like a heritage garage. And it’s on the bucket list of most Mazda fans.

I was there for about 3 hours. I shot around 350 frames. I’ll probably break my experience up into two or three separate posts. There’s just too much otherwise.

The first cars you see as you enter the basement are the race cars, so that’s the topic of my first post. I’ll try to do them justice.

Hold onto your helmets.

Really, it's an MX-6.

Really, it’s an MX-6. – click to view larger

Jacob, our AMAZING tour guide, went through these cars like a shotgun through a milk bottle. I barely got any details on them. And… I know a lot about Miatas but not a whole ton about vintage Mazda racers. However, I’ll do my best.

The worst part is that most of these cars have little plaques in front telling what they did and when. Did I take pix of those plaques? No sir. I was not thinking clearly.

The first car in the Basement is this MX-6 GT-U racer. The only original body panel is the roof. I shot only a single frame of it.

1979 RX-7 "Daytona" car.

1979 RX-7 “Daytona” car. – click to view larger


Drool – click to view larger

The RX-7 office.

The RX-7 office – click to view larger

This little SA22C is known as the Daytona Car. That car was the first RX-7 to win the 24 Hours of Daytona back in 1979. Though this one may be a replica of that race car, but I’m unsure. This IS an extremely early RX-7. I think Jacob said it was the 7th production RX-7.

RX-7s went on to win quite a few Daytona 24 hour class wins. This was the first. And this car was one of my muses when looking at 70s race cars in preparation for Sharka’s mini rally livery.

So gorgeous. By far my favorite of the race cars present in the Basement that day.

Speedmaster - click to view larger

Speedmaster – click to view larger

The interior - click to view larger

The interior.

Next door sat THIS one. The Racing Beat FC Land Speed Record car that ran on the Bonneville salt. It ran 238mph back in 1986 (I had to google this.)

The white/red/blue Racing Beat livery is one of my all time favorites. I was so woo’d by this car that I neglected to shoot much of the Land Speed Record FD sitting next to it… alas.

767 in the right livery.

767 in the right livery – click to view larger

Cockpit - click to view larger


From the left - click to view larger

From the left.

Engine- click to view larger


I’ve never seen this livery in person. The actual orange/green Renown livery? SO gorgeous. Probably my all time favorite race car livery, even beating out John Player Special and Gulf Racing. It’s just… so iconic.

Even taken apart and in pieces, this 767 was stunning. I could go on about the paint and bodywork for paragraphs, but kinda feel like a heathen for wanting to do so. I mean, the space could be better spent talking about the 4 rotor inside or the 24 Hours of Le Mans heritage.

but that paint!

I must see one complete and rolling around someday. Bonus if it’s a 787B. But still, just being next to this was a bucket list item.

And I touched it.

The RX-792P.

The RX-792P- click to view larger.


Gorgeous – click to view larger

Totally a stock RX-7 cockpit.

Totally a stock RX-7 cockpit – click to view larger

4 rotor goodness.

4 rotor goodness – click to view larger

I admit, I totally missed the story of this RX-792P. The group had moved forward and I was still lingering and snapping pix. According to the Wikipedia entry on it, this little car and 2 brothers competed in GTP in 1992. They also liked to catch fire.

I’m sorry to not have more to say about it. I could try to summarize the wikipedia entry, but that’s not really my style. I was more stunned by the 92P’s style. In ways, more beautiful than the 787.

Speaking of which…

787 - click to view larger


Mind blown - click to view larger

Mind blown.

If you’re somehow not one who eats and sleeps Mazda every day, go check out the 787B’s in-depth wikipedia page. You can come back. I’ll wait.

Upon seeing this car, my mind just kinda shut down. I had hoped to see one but didn’t expect it. And then there it was. I shot only these two photos.

This was one of two 787s built in 1990. It’s an evolution of the 767 (seen above) and then evolved into the 787B, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Sure, it’s not the orange/green 787B Le Mans winning car, but it’s still amazing to stand in the presence of. I wish I’d taken a few more photos.

The MXR-01.

The MXR-01 – click to view larger

V10 inside.

V10 inside – click to view larger

The last car in the race car section of the Basement was this 1992 MXR-01. This car was the one that followed the 787B in competition, but due to regulation changes, Mazda could no longer power it with a rotary. They purchased a 1991 F1 V10 engine from a builder and put it in this ex-Jaguar chassis that just happened to be a class winner in 1991.

It was not a winner in 1992 when Mazda tried to race it. They didn’t have the cash to develop it and it became the last car Mazda entered in sports car racing since they started in 1983.

Up next: The Road Cars!!!

The Mazda Basement Series

Click the links above to go straight to a particular tour blog.

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  • GT-Alex says:

    If I had to sleep in a basement, I would be more than happy to do it there. Awesome place, lucky you !

  • Ray Sawyer says:

    Nice one, can’t wait for part 2. As to the 767s here is a bit on Hemmings about them and the 767-003 that sold this past spring at Amelia Island for $1.75 million!

  • Justin Bullard says:

    Oh! I got video of you touching the 767! Here!
    That should explain my smile in your picture. I my new audio recorder arrived after we got back from the tour, so audio pickup’s not great. I believe it was something along the lines of “I have to touch it.”

    I remember Jacob saying the Daytona car was a real deal, but never saw the track. It was a backup car.

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