A Long-Lost Le Mans Mazda Rotary Relic Reappears

Earlier this year, I headed along to Fuji Speedway to check out the annual Motor Fan Fest. While I was interested in seeing what this event was all about, I had been tipped off that a very special car thought lost for 35 years would be attending. Knowing that, I just had to get down to Fuji and check it out with my very own eyes.

What I found parked up in the paddock totally blew my mind.


This relic in question was one of Mazda’s 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans works ‘254i’ race cars.


Masahito Ito, the new owner and president of Power Craft and Pro Composites, discovered the long-lost 254i in Okayama through his vast industry connections. Initially, the idea was to evolve the RX-7-based creation into a real monster – just for Ito-san to have some fun in – but once he unearthed its history as a Mazda works Le Mans race car that all changed.


Masahito was excited to give me a tour around the Mazda, and that began with showing me documentation and pictures of what seemed to be three similar-looking cars, all with different liveries.


In 1982, Mazda entered a pair of 254i race cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with average results. After the race, both cars were shipped back to Japan where they competed in a number of JPSC series races. One was subsequently crashed at Fuji Speedway to the point of destruction, while the other car – which was originally finished in a black and gold JUN livery, and then changed to pink and then to white for its Japanese domestic racing career – disappeared after be raced in the 1984 Fuji 1000.

Smiling, Ito-san pulled me away from the images on the windscreen, and pointed to a section of the door frame. The remnants of the pink, and black and gold paint can still be found on this racer – signifying that this is that 254i.

With its history confirmed, the RX-7 is now being fully restored. Masahito is handling the bodywork, and his trusted friends at RE Amemiya are looking after the 13B rotary engine work.


Masahito wants to restore the Mazda as accurately as possible to its Le Mans configuration, which is so cool.

This is one car I’ll be revisiting again, but in the meantime check out the video below for a look at both 254i racers competing at Le Mans in 1982.

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography



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What happened to it for 35 years? Why did it stop racing?


This will indeed find its way in another museum


What a great piece of history!


MAZDA...... zoom zoom!


Safety has improved a lot on Le Mans track.


But I miss that long stretch.
Can't they think of a solution to have it again?
At least remove the first chicane...


I've come to like the chicanes at Mulsanne (finally) but if they removed one, it would have to be the second so you get the run up and can play chicken on the brakes towards Mulsanne corner. That could potentially be interesting ( :


As nice as I'm sure it'll be once restored..there's something so...special about it as it is, with its visible signs of decades of age. Things like the cracks/chips in the body work, faded paint and pitted, rotor shaped Mazda emblem on the front, all give the car such a great character.


This one deserves a proper restoration! A piece of history!
It would be a huge pity sitting in a museum and collecting dust.
Hoping someday we can see this beauty return in its former glory!


great find, hope its restored to the black & gold JUN livery. looked epic.
on a side note, i hope this isn't the start of the spamming shit again (gefiw comments)


Such a cool car


On a scale from 1 to 14, this hovers around 22.3. That is so so awesome. I'm guessing the "windows" on the tail is there so cars coming up behind you can still see your lights through sharp bends like, say Mulsanne Corner?. Much awesomeness indeed..


Oh pleas do revisit this car again! Are you able to do a build log type thing? It's awesome seeing build logs of restorations, would love to see one for this car!


Here's a link on what I kind of mean:



This car was built by Mazdaspeed to comply with GTO class at Le Mans in 1982. At the last minute the rule makers decided that the Mazda would compete in the GTX class, the same class as the Porsche 935s. A Porsche 935 placed fourth overall in the race. This Mazda placed 14th overall in the race and was down in the GTX standing. If the Mazda raced in the GTO class which it was built for it would have won the class by nine laps, beating the Porsche 924 GTR which ultimately won the class. Mazda has always been overachievers in motorsports. This is another story of the rich history of Mazda racing.


It rolls like its on rails.....so smooth taking the corners......

Martín Brandán

Holy hell, this is exciting. Can't wait to see it restored!