The rotary-powered Mazda 787B is one of the giant achievements in the automaker’s long tenure in motorsports as still the only vehicle from a Japanese company to earn an overall victory in the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans. To befit the scale of huge achievement, there’s now a massive mural of the important vehicle at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

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Artist John Cerney depicts the famous race car on a hunk of plywood that measures a gargantuan 32 feet (9.75 meters) long and 10 feet (3 meters) tall. It shows the Le-Mans-winning number 55 of the Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler, and Bertrand Gachot driving squad. If you’re traveling to the track, look up at the hill along State Route 68 and see this beastly machine staring down at the lesser vehicles driving by. 

The Mazda is the second giant work by Cerney on display at Laguna Seca. In July, the track erected his similarly huge mural that shows motorcycle racing legend Wayne Rainey on a Yamaha.

Gallery: 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 50th anniversary

“The car is huge,” Cerney said in the track’s announcement. “I used 10 sheets to complete this board compared to the six that I used for the Wayne Rainey mural. I strived to get all the little details right from the logos to the body lines. The bright orange and green colors really make it stand out.”

Mazda still races prototypes in the United States, and the company has a new partnership the 16-time Lemans winners at Joest Racing starting with the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The first order of business is further development of the RT24-P to fix an issue with a lack of downforce and understeer.

Gallery: Mazda RT24-P Race Car: LA 2016

There could be a future for rotary performance from Mazda, too. An evolution of the RX-Vision concept arrives at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, and the automotive world has its collective fingers crossed that vehicle might preview a road-going version.

Source: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

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Artist John Cerney creates painted, plywood figure of iconic Mazda 787B

Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Special Assignments for Mazda North American Operations, stands beside the giant Mazda 787B mural on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hillside. (photo: Alison Arena)
Nestled in the coastal hillsides of the scenic Monterey Peninsula, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful motorsports facilities in the world. Its aesthetic appeal is now further enhanced with the addition of giant artwork of the legendary Mazda 787B to the hillside visible to those traveling the Monterey-Salinas Highway (State Route 68). The mural painted on a plywood board stands at 32 feet long and 10 feet tall.

The iconic Mazda 787B is legendary in the endurance racing world. Mazda is the only Japanese automaker to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans to date. The No. 55 driven by Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler, and Bertrand Gachot won the prestigious event in 1991 using an aggressive strategy made possible by the car’s impressive reliability and fuel economy. The 787s were the last Wankel rotary-powered racing cars to compete in the World and Japanese championships, using Mazda’s R26B engine.

The 787B is distinctive for the glorious, high pitch generated from the rotary engine that easily revved to 9,000 rpm during endurance racing events and the bright orange and green colors inspired by sponsor Renown, a clothing company which made argyle socks. The famed race car has lived on at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with frequent appearances at the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and its legacy at the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course is enhanced with bright, colorful visual representation on the hillside.

The artwork was created by Salinas, Calif., resident John Cerney. The Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) commissioned Cerney to make the Mazda 787B along with the mural of Grand Prix motorcycle legend Wayne Rainey that began decorating the County of Monterey-owned Laguna Seca Recreation area in July. More of Cerney’s work can be seen HERE.

“The colorful race car that can be seen from the highway will let people know that this is an incredible racing facility,” said Cerney. “The car is huge. I used 10 sheets to complete this board compared to the six that I used for the Wayne Rainey mural. I strived to get all the little details right from the logos to the body lines. The bright orange and green colors really make it stand out.”

“The artwork really demonstrates who we are and what we do,” said Gill Campbell, general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “In addition to being the naming rights sponsor since 2001, our track has served as the spiritual home for Mazda. The artwork cements the relationship between Mazda’s tremendous racing legacy and our world-class motorsports facility.”

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