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Mazda celebrated last June 23rd its 30th anniversary of its victory in the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was a race like no other and usually dominated by big automotive manufacturers. That historic win did not come instantly. It was a culmination of about a decade’s worth of work and at the Mazda Miyoshi Proving Ground in Hiroshima Prefecture, one of Mazda’s vehicle development bases, there is a stone monument inscribed with the words “Aku naki chōsen” (which means “Never Stop Challenging”). These words were inscribed on the monument are based on writings by Kenichi Yamamoto, the former chairman of Mazda.

Stone monument inscribed with the words “Aku naki chōsen” (“Never Stop Challenging”)

Yamamoto’s life work earned a place in automotive history with his practical application of the Wankel rotary engine then as the head of the Rotary Engine Research Section. The inscription “1991.06.23” on the plaque referred to the date when the Mazda 787B, powered by a rotary engine, became the first Japanese car to win the 59th 24 hours of Le Mans, a sport that is dominated by titans. The Mazda 787B Chassis No. 002, is a fully functional race car and now is on permanent display at the Mazda Museum, and it is still an attraction for Mazda fans and motorsports enthusiasts. The display is a regular spot for fan meetings and events.

Mazda has a strong presence in the world of motorsports. Despite being a small, almost boutique-ish brand, Mazda has a loyal fan base and enjoys a lot of following on its models. Last year, the brand celebrated its centennial year and looked at its roots as a company that produced cork in the early part of the 20th century. In 2019, it also celebrated the 30th birthday of its beloved MX-5 model. The MX-5 set the Guinness World record as the best-selling 2-seater sports car and it is the most raced production sports car in America.  

In recent years, it has been focused in its promotion of participatory motorsports for customers who truly enjoy motorsports with their cars. Mazda says the aim of these projects is to further enable customers to experience the joy of driving and to “be a driver”. Mazdaspeed is the company’s subsidiary specializing in motorsports, and this initiative to the challenge of subsequent 24 Hours of Le Mans races paid off with its historic win in 1991.

On the local front, Team Mazda Philippines recently won the Kalayaan Cup 12-Hour Endurance Race, at the Clark International Speedway. Team Mazda Philippines was the 2021 Petron Kalayaan Cup 12-hour Endurance Challenge over-all race champion after completing 274 laps in dominating fashion over 12-hours of non-stop racing. The car was a near-showroom stock Mazda MX-5 Miata Spec Series car and it bagged six trophies together with wins in Class 1 and Open A categories for both the 4-hour Kagitingan Cup race and the 12-hour Makabayan Cup.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement of the team and our Mazda MX-5,” says Steven Tan, president and CEO of Mazda Philippines. “The results this year show that speed, reliability and fuel efficiency all have to be present to ensure victory in this race.  With all these on hand, the MX-5 allowed our drivers to confidently race and keep a competitive pace all throughout the 12-hours. Surely, this championship win was made possible with the hardworking crew, the amazing team spirit we demonstrated, and our belief that we have the best car in the field to give us the best results.”

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