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Looking Back at 2003 Rotary News
Submitted by SuperUser on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 11:20pm

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!

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