2003 was a banner year for the Rotary Engine. The triumphant return of the Rotary in the RX-8 shows that Mazda has refound its soul. The Rotary Community is more alive than ever, and active as well. With events from coast to coast in the US, and abroad, racers doing very well in their classes, and even an entire series of Rotary Race Cars becoming more popular, and even Rotary Powered cars featured in a major movie, 2003 will not be soon forgot. Of course there were some down-turns, the whole RX-8 Horse power issue put a slight damper on the roll-out, but it did not stop the RX-8 from being named one of Car and Drivers 10 best cars for 2004, runner up in Automobile Magazine's car of the year award, the 2004 RJC Car of The Year, and just about EVERY automotive journalist raving about the RX-8 and the all new RENESIS Rotary Engine.
There were some large stories in 2003. Lets go through them from the start of the year. The January started right off on the 3rd day of the year with Hollywood welcoming the RX-8 into X-Men 2, X-Men United. The RX-8 done up in Mutant Blue, and a Hollywood Bodykit, was shown at the LA Autoshow. Just 4 days later, the production version of the RX-8 was show, and prices were set. On January 7th, 2003, we witnessed the true rebirth or Rotary Power in the US. The announcement of a pre-sale program, and prices told all rotary lovers that Mazda was back int he game. To wit, Mazda execs answered questions from the online community about the RX-8, and the new Rotary Engine: the RENESIS.
Two days later, at the Tokyo Autosaloon, the Mazdaspeed RX-8 kit made its debut, showing all that Mazda was serious about the car's image.
In the UK, a new race series was launched, the "Formula Woman" series will be shown on BBC in a reality TV format, the cars used in the Race Series will be RX-8s.
To cap off January, on the 28th, the new RENESIS engine started production in Hiroshima.
As we move to February, we found out that Rotary Engines were outlawed from the Daytona 24 race. The comments posted made this one of the most active stories of the year. Daytona's response to this 24 days later was that they were banned because none were entered. We don't get it either.
February also saw another wildly popular story, or Speculation and Prediction story. We asked you to leave comments, and comments you left! We had a general feel that many of our readers would love to see an inexpensive Rotary Sports car like the 1st gen RX-7, or a RWD Rotary Powered sports coupe like the RX-3 brought back. We sent the comments off to Mazda, and will see what happens!
On February 16, 2003 Job One of RX-8 was done. There was a ceremony in Hiroshima for the occasion. The first car was a Japanese Domestic Market Model.
In March, Siguel Racing blasted through the quarter mile drag in 6.982 seconds at 198 MPH! The 6 second barrier was broken by a 20b Single turbo 3 Rotor RX-7 drag car.
From celebration to head shaking... Monster Garage on the Discovery channel set out to transform a perfectly good RX-7 convertible into a Sand Rail. Jesse James and gang fumbled their way through the conversion, when the RX didn't beat a purpose build sand rail, good'ol Jesse took a rail gun to the poor Seven. What a sore looser.
Other media outlets weren't immune to the Rotor bug, as the director of XMen2 was bit by the RX-8. He got Rotoritis so bad that he wrote it into the Xmen sequel. While the truth is, product placement is becoming more and more popular, and Mazda is using some bold moves in placing the RX-8 in mass media.
In the months leading up to the biennial Tokyo Autoshow, we see a flood of "spy shots." This year, they started in May. Claims of the "Next RX-7" were submitted to us with a sickening regularity. Sickening because we knew that these fakes were getting peoples hopes up. We had said before that there was an almost 0% chance of a RX-7 making its way to Tokyo in October.. but people persisted. If there is a next generation RX-7 in development, we hope to be will be one of the first to show you REAL pics, and say for sure that the RX-7 will return. As it stands now, there is no known 4th gen RX-7 photos on the web.
Half way through the year, a ad newly introduced in Japan, the Mazda RENESIS Rotary Engine Wins International Engine of the Year for 2003. The engine's merits out-shinned all the other competitors. This award was just the first in many the Engine and RX-8 would win in 2003.
2003 news wasn't totally about Mazda, and since we are RotaryNews, not Mazdanews, we covered the news that Rotapower Engine is to be used in ATVs. Freedom Motors will provide motors to Madami International's ATVs. Freedom Motors is a spin off of Moller International... the Sky Car Company.
Getting back to Mazda, We reported back in June that that they were working on a hydrogen rotary engine for the Tokyo Autoshow. This is the only rumor that was concrete, and actually turned out to be a fact.
July was the most exciting month. On July 16, 2003, the 1st RX-8 was delivered to its new owner, long time Rotary fan: Brad Berger. RotaryNews took ownership of the future Project RX-8 (articles will debut in January 04!) July also saw the First RX-8 Owners Meet in US, in SoCal, of course.
Just a month after the RX-8 launch in the US, we hit a speed bump: Mazda Revised the RX-8 Horsepower Number down. During EPA certification, it was found that the Catalytic Converter was running too hot with the lean burning RENESIS. To cure this, Mazda had to detune the engine to 238 flywheel SAE horsepower. There was an uproar on the various places on the internet, and accusations of a conspiracy. The truth is there are two issues, one being the Catalytic converter reduction in HP, and the other is the ECU backing down power on rear-wheel dynos. Many got the two issues confused. However Mazda stepped up to the plate, and offered a $500 rebate and free maintenance, or offered to buy back the RX-8's. It is clear now that the cars are the best Rotary ever, even with the horsepower issue. Any many call those that turned in the cars based solely on the horsepower issue, fools... Fools for turning in one of the best new cars of the year because of a number.
It further prove that the car's performance numbers are there, Mazda released actual time slips from their internal testing of the RX-8 at a drag strip. This was a huge step for a large corporation to step up and do this kind of testing. These numbers have been surpassed by drag racers across the country. and showing the initial performance numbers the RX-8 came out with were not changed.
With the Horsepower issue out of the way, It was time for the highly anticipated Tokyo Autoshow. October 2003 brought disappointment for those that thought a RX-7 would debut. As we predicted, the only Rotary power shown was the quite cool Hybrid Electrically spooled dual gas/hydrogen Rotary powered RX-8, and the Japanese Production Mazdaspeed RX-8. The technology for the H2 RENESIS was 12 years in the making, and its appearance at the autoshow is good news for the distant future of Rotary Powered cars.
History was made in the latter part of October when it was announced the Able Ibarra's R-100 drag car was to be inducted into the NHRA hall of Fame. The R-100 is the 1st Sport Compact to be inducted, as well as the first ROTARY to be inducted into the museum.
As the year nears completion, Mazda announced their support for the 2004 Grand Am Cup SpeedSource Campaign. SpeedSource will race a set of Mazdaspeed equipped RX-8s in the series starting as early as January 2004.
And as the year ended, word came out that the First Pro Formula Mazdas were nearing completion. These RENESIS equipped racers will run their series starting Spring of 04.
Wow. What a year... and that was just the NEWS... Below is a listing of all articles for 2003. Have a Happy New Year! The best for 2004!
- Jan 03, 2003 Hollywood Welcomes RX-8 in Next X-Men Movie
- Jan 07, 2003 RX-8 Presale Program
- Jan 07, 2003 News from Detroit: Mazda Announces Price of RX-8
- Jan 07, 2003 Interviews with Charlie Hughes and Jay Amestoy
- Jan 08, 2003 RX-8 Questions Ansered
- Jan 09, 2003 Mazdaspeed RX-8 Shown at Tokyo Autosaloon
- Jan 10, 2003 RX-8 News from the UK (plus) "Formula Woman"
- Jan 13, 2003 Midwest RX7 Event This Spring
- Jan 16, 2003 A Day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the RX-8
- Jan 21, 2003 RX-8 Driving Impression, Part I
- Jan 23, 2003 RX-8 Driving Impression, Part II
- Jan 25, 2003 Moller Sky Car on Ebay Jan 31st
- Jan 27, 2003 East Coast Mazda High Speed Drivers Ed
- Jan 28, 2003 Mazda Begins Production of 'RENESIS,' the New-Generation Rotary Engine
- Jan 29, 2003 Rotaries outlawed from Daytona 24
- Feb 05, 2003 25 years later, Looking back at the 1st gen RX-7
- Feb 13, 2003 New Mazda Rotary Vehicles: RotaryNews predictions and speculation
- Feb 16, 2003 Job One of RX-8
- Feb 20, 2003 C&D TV to test RX-8
- Feb 24, 2003 Daytona Commitee Responds
- Mar 02, 2003 C&D: RX-8 beats G35c and Mustang SVT Cobra
- Mar 03, 2003 Mazda Rotary Returns To Speed GT for 2003
- Mar 13, 2003 Rotary Tech: Catalytic Converters
- Mar 17, 2003 Detroit News: Return of the Mazda RX-7?
- Mar 19, 2003 2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 1
- Mar 21, 2003 Steve Kan to Speak @ The RX7 Revolution
- Mar 22, 2003 Monster Garage: RX-7/ Sand Rail
- Mar 25, 2003 Siguel Racing: 1/4 mile at 6.982 @ 198MPH
- Mar 26, 2003 Review: Monster Garage RX7 Sand Rail
- Apr 01, 2003 Next Rotary Offering from Mazda: The Scrum Truck
- Apr 04, 2003 RX-7 Revolution Gears Up
- Apr 10, 2003 Quicknews for April
- Apr 20, 2003 RX-7 Revolution -- Next Weekend
- Apr 29, 2003 RX-7 Revolution Event Recap
- May 05, 2003 Product Placement: RX-8 in Xmen2
- May 05, 2003 4rotor Drag car unveiled in Australia
- May 08, 2003 What is Mazda?
- May 14, 2003 RENESIS in Depth
- May 23, 2003 Pristine Car Series - Washing the Wankel
- May 27, 2003 Pristine Car Series - Waxing the Wankel
- May 28, 2003 RX-7 and a Half $2003 GRM Challenge
- May 29, 2003 2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 2
- May 30, 2003 Must be that time again... Spy Shots
- Jun 03, 2003 Mazda RENESIS Wins International Engine of the Year 2003
- Jun 05, 2003 RotaryNews.Com Goes Racing
- Jun 12, 2003 Must be that Time ... Part 2 the Internet
- Jun 13, 2003 Rotapower Engine to be used in ATVs
- Jun 17, 2003 2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 3
- Jun 18, 2003 Last Minute call for questions
- Jun 20, 2003 RX-8 Short Lead Press Event: Part 1 - Pics!
- Jun 20, 2003 RX-8 Short Lead Press Event: Part 2 - Answers!
- Jun 22, 2003 RX-8 Short Lead Press Event: Part 3 Impressions
- Jun 24, 2003 Mazda to keep working on hydrogen rotary engine
- Jun 27, 2003 SevenStock 6 - 3 months to go!
- Jul 13, 2003 Marketwatch on the RX-8
- Jul 15, 2003 So begins the US RX-8 Aftermarket
- Jul 16, 2003 1st RX-8 Owner in US: Brad Berger
- Jul 19, 2003 First RX-8 Owners Meet in US
- Jul 31, 2003 2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 5
- Aug 01, 2003 RotaryNews Project Car Series: The REPU Part I
- Aug 15, 2003 Star Mazda Round Six is On!
- Aug 18, 2003 2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 6
- Aug 21, 2003 RENESIS is the Mac OS X of engines
- Aug 22, 2003 Mazda Revises RX-8 Horsepower Number
- Aug 24, 2003 2003 Star Mazda Series North American Championship - Round 7
- Aug 28, 2003 Exclusive: Mazda's RX-8 1/4 mile Time Slips
- Sep 03, 2003 SevenStock 6 -- Sept 27th and 28th Mazda R&D
- Sep 07, 2003 Round Eight of the Star Mazda Series North American Championship
- Sep 15, 2003 Rumors for Tokyo
- Sep 24, 2003 Mazda Engineering on RX-8 and Dynos
- Sep 26, 2003 SevenStock 6 - Mazda R&D
- Sep 28, 2003 SevenStock6, a great success!
- Oct 13, 2003 Hydrogen Rotary Engine at 2003 Tokyo Motor Show
- Oct 15, 2003 Rotary Technology: Hydrogen + Hybrid
- Oct 17, 2003 Star Mazda: Heading into Season Finale
- Oct 27, 2003 Ibarra's R-100 to be inducted into NHRA Museum
- Nov 03, 2003 Mazda Supports SpeedSource Campaign for 2004 Grand Am Cup ST Championship
- Nov 05, 2003 Mazdaspeed RX-8 at SEMA
- Dec 11, 2003 First Pro Formula Mazdas Nearing Completion
- Dec 12, 2003 Rotaries around the World Series: Rotaries Down Under (pt2!)
- Dec 22, 2003 Determining Tire Pressures
- Dec 23, 2003 Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed Version for JAPAN