For those of us who came of age in the '90s, 1997 doesn't seem that long ago. The world was happily living out the golden age of analog. Bill Clinton was taking the oath of office on his second term, we were still a year away from the first rainbow-colored CRT iMacs, and Mazda rotary technology was in full bloom with the production of the twin-turbo, two-rotor FD3S Mazda RX-7.
The world has changed a lot since then. Your Apple Watch nearly doubles the performance of those "futuristic" iMacs, the current presidential administration is vastly different than in those Clinton years (and in some ways, very much the same), and it's been about six years since anything rotary from Mazda hit the showroom floor. Yet even today the owners, tuners, and drivers of Mazda's most rebellious innovations continue to honor them, both in the tradition of yesterday and through the trends of today—and in greater numbers than ever before.
This year's Sevenstock continued the show's tradition of inviting ever more Mazda rotary enthusiasts and fans to partake in the nation's largest such gathering, once again returning to the hallowed grounds of Fontana, CA's Auto Club Speedway. With a mix of track-day driving, demos with some of Mazda's most famous race machines, a contemporary Vendor Alley, a huge show, and endless amounts of shooting the breeze with family and friends, this year's event proved one of the most memorable to date. But here's what we liked best:
1. MAZDA HERITAGE COLLECTION FOUR-ROTOR RACE CARS
For decades, more racers have chosen Mazda in their competitive endeavors than any other brand. Yet still, the four-rotor race cars of Mazda's '80s and '90s factory-backed racing efforts remain their—and some of the world's—most popular.
On display and taking to the track again this year were the no. 56 Mazda 787 and no. 202 787B (#003) of 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans fame, the no. 77 RX-792P from 1992 IMSA GTP-class competition, and the no. 62 RX-7 (wearing no. 74 bodywork for the event) IMSA GTO-class champion from around the same time.
These cars are simply awesome. Analog heroes, they contain almost none of the "driver comforts" of today—no active aero or differentials, no traction control, no interactive heads-up displays, etc. Even the starting procedures are complex and take upwards of a minute. But every time we see them out, they're brought to full scream, and driven nearly as hard as they might've been in one of those great endurance races over two decades ago.
2. OLD SCHOOLERS
A lot of us know Mazda's lineage of RX-7 we've fallen in love with over the years. But it's easy to forget that rotary technology existed for a decade in a total of seven models before (and after) the launch of the original RX-7 in 1978. You'd be hard pressed not to find several examples of each at Sevenstock.
3. DNA GARAGE
With a name standing for "Do Nothing Average," the folks at Santa Ana, Calif.'s DNA Garage set a high bar for themselves. But one look at their involvement in this year's Sevenstock proves that they were up to task. Not only did they arrive with a grip of some of the cleanest cars of the show, they also arranged for Mazda-only track time amidst Speed Ventures' track day for Nissan Challenge and V8 Road Racing West.
4. THIS MYSTERY FD3S RX-7
We're so lost here. We have no idea who this awesome gem belongs to, but we're completely in love with it. It could be an evolution of Scott Sengpiel's car all the way from Milwaukee, Wisc., or a rewrapped iteration of one formerly candy-red FD we've spied wearing Showstoppers banners. Either way, its Rocket Bunny flares, slammed stance, matte metallic gray wrap, and buff single-turbo 13B power plant make it one of our favorite cars of the show.
5. AARON PARKER'S FD3S RX-7 TOP DRIFT CAR
Hard to believe a car as beautiful as this will be put to hard drifting competition in several short months. But that's the fate that awaits Erin Parker's FD. Fresh off the Sema show floor, Aaron and his newly kitted and freshly wrapped FD sprained necks at this year's event. Also with a potent single-turbo rotary, and an added sequential dogbox, this is another great example of how an FD should be.
6. CHRIS GILDER'S '92 MAZDA B2600i
Minitrucks aren't for everybody. Not to knock them—minitruckers around the world very proudly agree with that statement. But every once in a while, one comes around that pretty much anyone can admire. Chris Gilder's 13B-swapped, single-turbo'd, thoroughly slammed and endlessly clean '92 Mazda B2600i has been one of those examples ever since it won a Mothers Shine Award also at SEMA a few years back. Now on a set of period-correct Super Advan wheels, it's looking better than ever.
7. SEVENSTOCK BOOTH CARS
You've got to have a pretty decent rotary vehicle to even want to show it at Sevenstock, so it goes without saying that you got to have something special to earn placement in front of the official Sevenstock booth. The Lucky 7 Racing's three-rotor FC3S RX-7 convertible and High End FD3S RX-7 certainly check those boxes. One of them we might be afraid to drive (with its flawless candy-coated exterior), but the other we'd definitely love to. Very hard.
8. ROBERT GREEN'S FOUR-ROTOR FD3S RX-7
When this crazy thing popped up on the radar a couple years ago, it took everyone by surprise. It's JDM Scoot four-rotor engine, Fujita Engineering Afflex ver. V kit, and Tecnocraft T2 carbon-Kevlar seats were just some of the rarities most U.S. enthusiasts had never laid eyes on, much less in a largely garage-built passion project from Las Vegas. Today it still drew one of the largest crowds of any car at Sevenstock, and we still see why.
9. DAVID MAZZEI'S FOUR-ROTOR FD3S RX-7
Another awesome SEMA car, this four-rotor was parked alongside the Mazda Heritage cars where it drew its fair share of attention—more than most, since this was the first we were all seeing of it on the West Coast. It wasn't tuned prior to the day's festivities, but the next day rotary guru Abel Ibarra produced an easy 950 whp from 20 lb-ft of boost, before David called it a day, loaded it onto the trailer and headed back to his Alabama home. We really, really hope to catch it in action next year.
10. LTMW MAZDA RX-8
When it comes to the popularity of Rocket Bunny and similarly clad widebody conversions in the import scene, SoCal body shop LTMW's involvement over the past several years has been undeniable. So it just seems proper they'd hit this year's show with an appropriate example of their work: this RX-8. Its flared dimensions and low stance, along with another big single-turbo 13B conversion, might be just what the RX-8 needs to enjoy popularity rivaling its RX-7 forefathers.
Want more? Be sure to follow @sevenstock and visit www.sevenstock.org for information on next year's show as it becomes available, and click through our gallery here to see outtakes from this year's show.