1991 Mazda 787B at Le Mans – Click above to watch the videos after the break

In 1991, the Mazda 787B made history at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by becoming the first Japanese-built machine to win the race. In addition, the 787B was the first (and continues to be the only) rotary-powered race car to achieve the feat. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic victory, Mazda restored the winning car and announced it would be bringing it to France for this year's 24-hour race.

Of course, Mazda had the cameras rolling to document the event, and has published several videos of the 787B at Circuit de la Sarthe. Our favorite is a lap with Jonny Herbert behind the wheel, the man who crossed the checkered flag before anyone else in this very car 20 years ago. You can also watch Patrick Dempsey talk about and drive the car, as well as see an overview of the car's 20th anniversary celebration.

Follow the jump to see the videos. Or rather, considering that the 787B may be the single most awesome-sounding race car ever conceived, follow the jump to hear the videos.







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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 64 Comments
      Evan Hayden
      • 3 Years Ago
      The next person who asks me why I like cars will be shown that first video as an answer.
        miketim1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Evan Hayden
        Thought i was the only one who gets asked that qeustion. . . . people look at it as its something abnormal
      Jarda
      • 3 Years Ago
      Please Mazda, build Furai!
      Kiiks
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh God that sound. I have chills down my spine. I hope they bring it to Laguna Seca this year. I will bring extra underwear. Re: Toyota GT-One While the 787B won out of reliability in a race of attrition, the GT-One had an honest chance at winning overall in 1999. It still didn't win. However, it's design was well ahead of it's time and went on to heavily influence modern LMP coupes: the Audi R8C and Bentley (EXP) Speed 8 directly, and most of today's various coupes can trace their lineage to the GT-One's groundbreaking design, as evidenced by the fact that the Toyota wouldn't look out of place on today's grid.
        mafian
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kiiks
        Kiiks, the 787B won out of fuel economy as well as reliability. The Mazdaspeed rotaries enjoyed one of the best reliability records at Le Mans over the years they competed. But also in the 1991 race their superior fuel economy when compared to the Jaguars and the remaining M-Bs etc chasing them down allowed the Mazda to run flat out for the whole race, whereas the Jaguars and M-Bs had to back off a little to conserve fuel otherwise they would have run out of their allocation. 1991 was the last year that ran to the fuel economy formula where the cars were allocated only a certain amount of fuel to last them the entire race.
      KaiserWilhelm
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love the awesome noise...but I also love that hes using an H-block shifter!
      ottoingineer
      • 3 Years Ago
      So nice that there was no "background theme music" - just the incredible mechanical wickedness coming from that rotary mill. Even driven for "demonstration" - that car is quick! Yes, sounds a little like a sport-bike, but there is a different wail to it. Hard to define exactly, I think I just need to watch/listen again (and again and again!). Good driving also - obvious from the camera shots that the car is not plush and "easy" to drive.
      RotaryExperiment
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think I need a towel....
      Charged
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you live in the Long Beach/LA area, the #'s 55 & 56 Mazda 787B will be featured at the Japanese Classic Car Show September 10th. Check http://www.japaneseclassiccarshow.com/ for all the details.
      Seph
      • 3 Years Ago
      it's a waste that rotary engine was banned... I guess, Mazda should bring the skyactiv engine this year...
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Boost Retard
        • 3 Years Ago
        So you prefer race cars that sound like flatulence? Call me when a pushrod V8 makes 270Hp/liter naturally aspirated.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Boost Retard
          HP/displacement is a poor measure of an engine. Who cares how much power per displacement an engine makes. What really matters is HP/kg or HP/unit volume or even HP/liter of gas or HP/dollar. And pushrod engines do great on all these things.
        _M7_
        • 3 Years Ago
        another arm chair car racer or expert XD one word to learn about....thermodynamics
        kevsflanagan
        • 3 Years Ago
        You've never driven in or heard a rotary in real life have you? Such a shame :(
        jonnybimmer
        • 3 Years Ago
        Do you prefer the german winners of today? I certainly don't.
        Saracen
        • 3 Years Ago
        In what way does this sound like a sport bike? Get your hearing checked.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        P
        • 3 Years Ago
        Spoken like a total ignoramus: Any racer will tell you the facts -- There is no manufacturer more committed and more involved in racing than Mazda. Yes, really, and no, not even Porsche or Ferrari operate at the level Mazda does for their drivers. Mazdaspeed engineers, sells and supports the gear many of us use at the track. And what's amazing is that they show up AT THE TRACK to support us. Who else does that? I assure you, the answer is "no one." Don't make the foolish assumption that some beauty queen poser car or some high-end sportscar is needed to reflect their racing commitment. Making good, fun cars with race-ready parts from the factory and track-side support is what it's about. Mazda does that.
          Gerald Williams
          • 3 Years Ago
          @P
          I have owned seven rotary engine cars since 1973, and Mazda has been racing nonstop since the seventies. They have over 25 class wins at the 24 hours of Daytona, and hundreds of wins all over the world in all classes. It is a well-known FACT that on any given weekend more Mazda cars and Mazda powered cars are raced than ANY other brand in the world. Look it up if you doubt it. That includes open wheel series as well as sports cars and sedans. The RX8 follows the legendary winning tradition of the RX7 and is the reigning GT Champ in the Rolex Grand Am series. And it still wins in SCCA and other series. Even after the 1991 Mazda win at Le Mans and the change in the engine rules prevented this car from defending its championship, rotary Mazdas did win the Le Mans p2 category a few years later. And next year at Le Mans, Patrick Dempsey the actor/racer who owns and drives for his own current RX8 team in the Grand Am series will field a Mazda rotary race car in the P2 class again. Mazda is a company a tiny fraction of the size of any other Japanese auto maker, selling even less cars than Korea's Hyndai and Kia, but they spend more percentage of their budget on racing and supporting racers compared to all the rest of the Japanese manufacturers. They may not be on your radar or make the headlines or tout their racing in expensive self-serving commercials, but go out to the tracks on any given weekend and be enlightened. Mazdas have earned their race victories through innovation and hard work, many times overcoming weight and horsepower and rev restrictions and other penalties placed on their cars after beating the likes of the other European,, Japanese and American manufacturers who compete with bigger engines, more horsepower and bigger budgets. One poster was right the Mazda 787B could produce 900 hp in its four rotor configuration, but won at Le Mans with the engine tuned to 700hp for longevity, still running at 10-12,000 rpm. At the time, its winning pace set the overall average speed and distance records at Le Mans. It could compete favorably today with no problem. If it makes you Toyota folks feel happy to think your one time second place winning car was more important or revolutionary , keep deluding yourselves. The Japanese will tell you themselves that the winning Mazda 787B is the most famous and revered sports car in Japanese automotive history, and that is one reason it holds a special unique place in auto racing history , and why IT was invited to Le Mans . As one who has raced Porsches, Zs and Mazdas over the past nearly forty years, no other auto manufacturer has committed such a large part of its limited resources to helping AMATEUR and professionasl alike go racing. Period !!!
        panchovilleneuve
        • 3 Years Ago
        Go to any amateur racing event pretty much anywhere in the world. You'll see more Miatas than you ever knew existed. There is no carmaker anywhere on the planet that is more of a "motorsports company" than Mazda. They pretty much ARE racing at the grassroots level.
        jonnybimmer
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree that they need to produce a sports car again, but they don't need to convince anyone they're a motorsports company. After Porsche, there really isn't any other auto manufacturer more involved with racing. Ferrari and Audi may get the spot light for their involvement with F1 and Le Mans, but speaking for sheer numbers, there isn't a day that goes by where somewhere, someone is racing a Mazda on a track. As for the 787B, it has been a goal of mine to see and hopefully hear it in person. For me, it is like the McLaren F1 GTR from Japan.
        Gribble
        • 3 Years Ago
        True, the RX-7 is dead, but the Miata is a great little sports for the money, and the RX-8 is, from everything I've read, an excellent driver's car (and hardly a slouch).
      Jonathan Arena
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thank you Mazda, for this incredible contribution to motorsport. If the other Japanese manufacturers had your balls, the world would be a better place.
        miketim1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Arena
        "other Japanese manufacturers had your balls" Ever heard of the Toyota GT1 ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhCyjwuuZDc&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ0_KaY4uQA&feature=related This car is even more of a legend then the 787b. Some say its the Best Le´╗┐ Mans car ever. I can even say that Nissan and Toyota have more balls then Mazda in better contribution to motorsport. How mazda history in rally compared to Toyota? How about Nascar? F1 series? When it comes to SUV/truck motorsports Mazda doesn't even exist. Beside the RX series and this 787b Mazda doesnt have much else to boast about. Dont go around talk shXt you dont know. Im not knocking Mazda for what they have done but they are no where near besting the other Japaneses makers at motorsport.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @miketim1
          [blocked]
          onewayroll
          • 3 Years Ago
          @miketim1
          Give me a break, the Toyota GT1 never won at Le Mans, and it came almost 10 years after the 787B. As it stands now, Mazda is the only Japanese manufacture to win the top class at Le Mans. I don't know who is saying it is more of a legend than the 787b since it ran only twice at Le Mans. And really, who the hell cares about SUV/Truck motorsports. Mazda has a great racing history, Toyota failed badly in F1, even with all the money they had.
          mafian
          • 3 Years Ago
          @miketim1
          miketim1, WRT Mazda's contribution to motorsport, there are more Mazdas raced in club level racing in the USA than any other manufacturer. Then there are things like the Formula Mazda open wheel series and many other club level classes where Mazda has a greater presence than any Toyota. Sure Mazda doesn't have as big a name in rallying as Toyota, however they did field a factory AWD turbo rally car in the WRC before Toyota did. All Toyota had at that time was a Supra. I won't even mention events like the Targa Tasmania (one of the toughest Targa events in the world) where Mazda has taken out the showroom class in a non-RX for the last few years etc with not a Toyota to be seen... I also wouldn't call Toyota's involvement in Nascar a "history of the brand" as the only real thing that is "Toyota" about it is a sticker of the Toyota badge... However having said that the Toyota GT1 is a pretty awesome piece of kit and Toyota's rallying effort of the 90s was pretty special. Plus Mazda has a lot more cars in production that move the soul much more than the "white goods on wheels" offerings from Toyota at the moment.... As you said, don't go around talking smack you don't know........ (Just so you know, I am a BMW fan and not a Mazda fan)
          miketim1
          • 3 Years Ago
          @miketim1
          Elmo. Shut up and stop commenting and everything I say. Dont care what you have to say never do or will you must be 15 or something. Toyota > Mazda. Gimme a Supra twin turbo stick over a RX-7 anyday. Mazada has history in rally but it isnt better then Toyotas history.... mazda trucks FTW. Period. I hardly ever heard about a Mazda truck. CAR WISE the GT1 is a much better car then this 787b. It comes down to the driver for the most part just because it won doesnt mean its the better car. The GT1 is rare legend. Okay i didnt forget about the Miata but gimme a Turbo stick Mr2 ANYDAY.
        miketim1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Arena
        How is Mazda history*
      Junkyard Willie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Too bad Mazda never put their racing technology in street cars like Ferrari, Mclaren, Mercedes, BMW etc.
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