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Mazda Savanna RX-3, The Golden Age Of The Rotary Engine

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TEXT: 高桑秀典(TAKAKUWA Hidenori)  PHOTO: 佐藤亮太(SATO Ryota)/奥村純一(OKUMURA Jyunichi)/佐藤正勝(SATO Masakatsu)/宮越孝政(MIYAKOSHI Takamasa)/神村聖(KAMIMURA Satoshi)

  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971
  • Works color of the Savanna RX-3, which has been racing since 1971

Reproduction of 1971 Fuji Masters 250km race specification car

On 29 October 2023, an event named ‘Power & Torque’ was held at Fuji Speedway, where a slot was set aside for stock car racing vehicles. The Mazda Savanna RX-3 was one of the cars that took part in the event, which was called the ‘Festival of Stock Cars 2023’.

Savanna was the golden age of the rotary engine

Three Mazda Savanna RX-3s were entered. One of these cars was the Savanna RX-3, a Yojiro Terada-specification car that competed in the 1971 Fuji Masters 250 km race and was characterized by its distinctive zebra color, a feature that delighted spectators on the circuits of yesteryear.

While it was Fumio Ono who drove this car at the Festival of Stock Cars, it was Hideki Narita who enthusiastically built the Savanna RX-3 Terada Yojiro-specification car, and we saw him in the pits on the day of the event, so we asked him about it.

“Yoshimi Katayama, who was a racing driver for Mazda, passed away in 2016, and Yojiro Terada, who was a contracted driver for Mazda with Katayama, came back into the spotlight as ‘Mr. Le Mans’, so we decided to produce a Terada-spec car as well as a Katayama-spec car. Yoshimi Katayama, Yojiro Terada, and Takashi Yorino were all responsible for 100 wins by rotary-engined cars in domestic races, and for creating the golden age of rotary engines in Japanese touring car racing”.

As he told us, Mr. Narita said that after obtaining his driver’s license, he drove several cars before arriving in Savanna. The enjoyment he had at that time was so vivid that he could not forget it, and about 15 years ago now he started collecting Savannahs to trace his youthful memories.

Based on the Savannas he had collected, he built an RX-3 to Katayama and Terada specifications and two RX-7s to Daytona 24-hour specifications. Three of these cars took to the track at this year’s Festival of Stock Cars.

The car shown here is a Yojiro Terada specification based on an earlier 1971 model, with livery in the works colors of the Savanna RX-3, which had been racing since 1971. Car 12, driven by Yojiro Terada in the Fuji Masters 250 km race held in October of the same year, has been reproduced, with not only the exterior but also the interior being circuit-specific.

According to Mr. Ono, who drove the actual car at the Festival of Stock Cars, the brakes came loose during the race, but he managed to drive the car in that condition because he used to race and was used to such situations. The skill of the veteran driver saved himself and his precious car in every situation on the circuit.

translated by DeepL

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