1974 Mazda 808 in Showroom Stock Sedan class

I flew the Corvette at Grattan Michigan in early 1973 which left me without a ride and with limited funding. Borrowed a friend's FV for a race at Blackhawk which left me quite broke but having qualified for an SCCA National Competition License that was my goal.

By the end of '73, I had a lot of parts but not enough to be competitive so sold off everything relating to Corvettes including the cars (took a semi and a flatbed to haul it all away) which provided funds for the next stage in my competition career.

At that time, the SCCA had created a new class, showroom stock sedan, which was designed to make racing affordable. Based on small econoboxes with very limited modifications allowed (mostly a roll bar and harnesses for safety) and limited to 165x13 tires. The concept was to allow cars to race for two years only both to bring in new cars and because two years was considered the maximum a stock sedan would be safe.

The list included things like Vegas and Pintos and Opels (sold by Buick) and a few imports like Toyota Corrolas

Now there was one important thing happening here. The 74 model year included several changes including 5 mph front bumpers and 2.5 mpg rear. This plus things like side impact standards meant that a '74 weighed several hundred pounds more than the '73s. Since the rule prohibited bumper removal by definition a 74 was slower than a 73. However the 73s would only be legal for one more year. Thinking long term I reasoned that if a 74 was obtained, the first year would be for learning and the second for winning. Right.

Now I prize balance over power and since the tires were limited in size, weight would make a big difference. So my first ranking was by weight of the '74 models and one stood out, the Mazda 808. I also liked the dash and steering wheel.

Now this was kind of an oddball and I suspect it was only imported to allow Mazda to meet emerging CAFE standards since the rotaries were thirsty. The 808 was essentially an RX-3 (lightest at the time) with a 1600 cc SOHC four & four speed. Curb weight 2100 lbs. Now there were bigger engines (Opel 1900, Vega 2300) but the 74 models were all considerably heavier.

So an 808 coupe was obtained new for considerably less than the $3k MSRP which was difficult in a time of the first fuel crisis. It was then carefully broken in and tuned where possible. The engine proved more than willing, winding 6000 rpm with ease once breathing was opened up just a little.

The Mazda was a wonderful little car for the time. Light, agile, and proved a true sports car since could be daily driven and competitive in racing (have always felt it best to drive the same car you are racing. Just keeps you and it tuned. Note in the photos that the car is going around a corner on the inside & ahead of the competition with perfectly neutral steering.

74 midwestern racing season began. Race nearly evey weekend. Made easy since could load a few tools and couple od spares in the trunk and back set & just drive to the track. Magnetic numbers and class indicators.

Found I could outdrag just about anything in the class since the trans took to speed shifting without complaint and could jump someone alongside by a couple of feet on every shift. Also discovered that since stock mufflers were required (not catalysts yet), could often get someone ahead to open up a few feet in a turn by parping the hooter.

First race was going great when I literally melted the Dunlops so that when I came into the pits, it would not move again. Had to jack the car up to get them unstuck & left chunks on pavement. I do tend to drive quite hard.

Replaced the Dunlops with a set of Michelin XASs. Started my liking for Michelins that exists today. Would go through two tires each weekend. New tires on back, used on front. Made handling neutral where others were mostly understeering.

Followed a series of races where I would finish third or fourth behind the 73 Opels or an occasional 73 Pinto but ahead of all other '74s and many 73s. Life looked good.

Then at the end of the 74 season, the SCCA announced a rule change for 75: the '73s would be allowed to continue. The Mazda would not be winning.

Removed numbers and roll bar & made daily driver. Sold car just prior to move to Austin, Texas in early 75. Found other interests, primarily autocrossing. Was the last time I ran an SCCA road race.