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REVOLUTIONARY ROTARY RACER REBORN
BAny car that wins Le Mans is a worthy model subject, but we asked Brett what in particular about the Mazda attracted his interest. His answer touches on just how revolutionary the car was and why even now—more than 27 years after its triumph—it remains unique among Le Mans winners. “It kind of breaks all of the rules of what we normally think a modern race car should be,” Brett says. “Wheel rims with huge lips and large negative offsets are something that you normally see on the street but almost never on a car from a professional race team. Wings hanging behind the car are something you find on drag cars or standing-mile cars because that setup can provide some downforce with the smallest amount of
drag, but [they are] seldom on sports racers. But this manufacturer-backed car had both. And then there was the livery: the beautiful orange-and-greencheckered theme accented with white lines that represented clothing company Renown’s Charge brand. It is as if a street guy designed their dream race car and said, ‘I want a rotary engine, Volk rims with a gigantic negative offset in the rear, a ginormous wing that hangs low and behind the car—oh, and paint it in green with orange with “Charge” on the side.’ It’s madness that literally made one of the most beautiful and striking race cars to have ever raced a track—and it was also the first Japanese manufacturer to ever win the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’ve always been in awe of the car. My skills are finally up to the task where I could design it and do it justice, so for me this represents a pinnacle in my design skills.”
Brett did his design work in Autodesk Fusion 360 and printed most of the car using Solutech PLA filament, which allowed him to print the body panels in color and bolt them together to form the livery rather than having to mask and paint the complex scheme. Brett designed the chassis as well, which uses Tamiya’s F104 Formula 1 car axle, damper, wheel hubs, and gear case for reliability. But Brett prides himself on authenticity. He told us, “I want you to see the actual car and not some representation of it, where you have to be told what it is. Sometimes that’s hard as 1/10-scale cars don’t have 1/10-scale differentials and mechanical bits that are proportional. So sometimes you have to make changes to make mechanical parts fit, but thankfully this car did not suffer from that. The car is rich with details, from working vents and scoops, a reproduction of the actual rear diffuser, rear-wing support structures and even mufflers that hide behind the vents. Some unseen details are the rims that even say ‘Rays’ and ‘Volk’ on them, but they have to be printed in a very detailed 3D printer—sls, Polyjet, or Sla—for those details to be seen.” Brett is duly proud of the multipiece rims. The main wheels are two-piece, but the fronts have an optional third piece: the white airextractor covers that the car ran in the race.
Designing the Mazda wasn’t all smooth sailing. He told us his biggest challenge was finding tires that properly fit the car’s unusual fenderwell shape. He usually defaults to Tamiya F104 tires, but in this case, the fronts were too wide and interfered with the uprights. Protoform 10140 VTA 26mm tires proved to be the solution, allowing the steering to operate correctly. Brett removed the sidewall logos with a soldering iron and replaced them with custom-made “Dunlop” stickers.
In some ways, the car’s accuracy actually undermines its wow factor. It looks so much like the 787B that it hides the extraordinary amount of design work that made that possible. And it is design work that you can benefit from because Brett uploaded the files, parts lists, and instructions to instructables.com, so now you can make your own 1/10 version of Mazda’s revolutionary rotary racer.
That’s not yellow and green paint; you’re looking at individually printed green and yellow body panels assembled to form the “paint job.”
Everything was built in the computer to ensure it would work in three dimensions. Brett designed the car using Autodesk Fusion 360, which allowed him to test-fit and refine dozens of things before the first part was printed.
The rear suspension employs the rear axle from a Tamiya F104 for reliability.