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Rolex24 Weekend: Diesels In Grand Am? They Are Here To Stay.

LongRoofian February 1, 2013 All Things Hoon, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 14 Comments

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So the week before the 51st running of the Rolex24 at Daytona International Speedway, this olelongrooffan received a rare personal email from our Chief Blooger. Seems he was up at the Detroit Auto Show (or some other hoyty-toyty event he always seems to finagle his way into) and ran into the Head Communications Officer for Mazda Motorsports. They got to talking about the trio of Mazda6 Diesel race cars that were making their debut in the new GX class at the Rolex24 this year. Said Blooger told this olelongrooffan to try, if I could, and hook up with that Communications dude and see what, if any, information I could gather. Well, I would suspect my fellow Hoons know this olelongrooffan accepted that as a challenge and, as most of the time seems to be the case, I was successful in that endeavor. However, my fellow Hoons will need to make the jump to reap the benefits of that success.


Now my fellow Hoons may, or may not, remember (think beer can pull tab) that several years ago my nephew, theKid, and this olelongrooffan headed over to the pits to check out what was happening about 3 am that eventful Sunday morning. We made it to the MazdaSpeed pits and theKid was the beneficiary of a cool pit dude’s actions and got to listen to the crew chief tell the team they were coming in for four tires, gas and a driver change. And theKid heard it first. That is something he still talks about to this day and, as a kicker, the MazdaSpeed #70 won the GT class that year!


So anyway, when I received that email from the Chief Blooger, he mentioned he had seen one of the Mazda6’s up at that show and thought it was pretty cool. I naively asked him if it was a black one thinking it might be the one I had seen at the Roar Before the 24 the previous weekend. No, he commented, that one was red and probably a car show mule. I filed this away in the shallow depths of my cranium and proceeded to do a little research on these race cars so as not to come across as a total idiot should I in fact find this dude and attempt to relay a reasonably accurate post here in the Hooniverse. Well, I’ll let my fellow Hoons be the judge of that latter fact.

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Ironically enough while on my stroll up to see what could be seen in the garages area that day, this olelongrooffan passed by the Mazda display and that red “car show mule” was on display albeit behind the “velvet ropes” designed to keep the general public away from it. I’ll have an interesting tidbit of information about this one a bit later. And that tall, leggy brunette just partially seen to the right in the above image? She gave this olelongrooffan a 2013 MazdaSpeed calendar which has already been regifted to a Mazda driving co-worker. Hey, gotta get co-worker points where ever I can. (also, stay tuned for a couple more images from this booth as well as the bimmer one next door)

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So I got up to the pits area and strolled on past the DP garage bays, checked out the bent frame M3 on the Turner Motorsports team and there, in the same garage area they occupied during the Roar, were the two car MazdaSpeedSource teams and a single privateer team, Freedom Autosport, running those new fangled diesel motorcars. The matte black number 70, as had many of the race cars I saw that day, had been repainted in its race day colors. This one, the #70, was repainted in the same colors as that “car show mule” I spotted earlier. Incidentally, it was later related to this olelongrooffan that “car show mule” was actually a rebuilt wrecked Mazda6 racecar and toured the car show circuit sans powerplant.

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This green one is the entry offered by that aforementioned Freedom Autosport team. These guys have been successful in the Continental Series with Mazdas and decided to move up to the Rolex Series this year. All three of these diesel Mazdas were painted in bright colors, red for the 70, green for the 25 and yellow for the 00. Pretty, vibrant colors and they sure stood out while they were out there running around that 3.56 mile circuit that is the road course at the Daytona International Speedway.

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Prior to catching up with that Mazda Communications dude (spoiler), I was standing just outside the velvet ropes checking out these teams in action. While doing so, I spotted a youngster inspecting the underside of the Freedom Autosports entry and he spotted the drip drip seen on the floor in the above image. Well, when that youngster mentioned that drip drip to a more senior member of the team, the senior member told the youngster to “Grab and wrench and tighten up that radiator fitting. You’re on the team now.” And that senior member headed over to a laptop and, presumably, entered that coolant leak into the seemingly endless database of information these guys seem to possess. Yeah, I just can’t make this shit up.

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So while I was still outside those velvet ropes, I decided to do something rare these days and zoom in on my elcheapoebay acquired image taker, hold it as steady as this olelongrooffan’s hands could and grab a few images of the goings on.

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After gathering up these images, as the Communications dude was no where in sight, this olelongrooffan decided to head on down the garage lane and check out some other stuff. I spotted the Turner Motorsports Continental entry belching oil all over the place and a couple international entries undergoing post tech inspections and then returned to the Mazda area to see if I could catch up with that dude.

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And, as this olelongrooffan was standing right here, that Communications dude passed right in front of me and I called him out by name. He turned and I introduced myself, dropping the Chief Blooger’s name. Well, that dude’s face lit right up and he invited me behind those velvet ropes and proceeded to give the whatall about the cool race cars his job is to promote.

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He pretty much gave this olelongrooffan free reign of the that garage area and proceeded to introduce me to a bunch of crew members and drivers for those Mazda teams. Additionally he answered a ton of questions I was able to come up with.  One of the first things I asked him was, “What is something that no one else knows about these cars?” He looked at me kind of funny and then said, “Oh yeah, Hooniverse.” I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, he told me, “These cars run on a fuel developed by Tyson Foods and Syntroleum and distributed via Dynamic Fuels. The bulk of the fuel is created with the use of chicken byproducts as opposed to recycled vegetable oil.”

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He also mentioned the engine is a production based version of the same 2.2 liter SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engine that will be available in production Mazdas in the second half of 2013. He also related the race engine includes over 250 stock components including the block and head. Well, by this time this olelongrooffan was getting blurry in the eyes and I think that Communications dude recognized that. He then turned the conversation to the young driver linked above, Spencer Pigot, he had grabbed to share the conversation with us. He mentioned Spencer’s fantastic, albeit young, driving career.

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It was right about this time I asked that Communications dude what MazdaSpeed’s take was on the Sahlen’s team moving to DP and Dr. Dreamy’s (that would be Patrick Dempsey Racing to we Hoons) move to ALMS. His candid response floored this olelongrooffan.

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“Mazda realizes we can’t be all things to all race teams,” Dean related. “We look at ourselves as a feeder sponsor to many racers of all different groups. From our Pro Mazda Series to the M5 Spec Series to our involvement here in the Continental and Rolex Series, we strive to educate drivers and want them to move up to other series and allow up and coming drivers to enter into these series.”

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“My greatest joy,” he continued, “will be when Spencer moves up to the Rolex Series full time with Mazda and then moves on to DP’s and then when he wins the Indianapolis 500. That’s when we know we have done what we are here to do.” He further continued that “Mazda knows we can’t be all things to all racers. I often get asked why don’t we do an engine for the IZOD Indy series. If we did that, we would have to decide what other series we didn’t want to be involved in, and quite frankly, we like where we are and we don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.” Take that Honda.

And this olelongrooffan thinks this is a great marketing ploy to Mazda’s target market. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday at its finest.

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 As that Communications dude looked rather busy and Spencer had to have other corporate obligations, this olelongrooffan promptly took my leave and headed off to see what else could be seen. I was just thrilled that I had the opportunity to get that insight from the corporation that is running the first diesel race car in the Grand Am series and at the Rolex24, or for that matter, at the Daytona International Speedway. This olelongrooffan was there for Mazda’s version of Audi’s diesel entry into sports car racing. Thanks Jeff.

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As I was heading off to my next adventure, this olelongrooffan belatedly realized I had not inquired about the sourcing of the fuel used to power these race cars. I returned to the MazdaSpeedSource garage area but could not locate that Communications dude anywhere. But I looked just across the garage lane and there were a couple corporate type looking dudes enjoying a cold sodie pop at one of the tables they have set up for all the muckity-mucks. “What the hell? It’s worth a shot,” this olelongrooffan thought and I headed over their way.

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As I approached the velvet ropes surrounding those transporters, I asked permission to ask a quick question. One of the dudes waved me in and I inquired about the fuel source and how it was distributed? At first one dude answered but he was quickly interrupted by an obviously more senior member of the Mazda organization. “Sunoco distributes it for us through their distributions facilities. Due to the composition of this fuel, it can be run through their existing pipelines and then is separated from regular gasoline at the final destination without any problems,” he related to this flabbergasted olelongrooffan. I promptly thanked them for their input and headed on out to the grid to check out what could be seen out there.

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And one of the interesting things, well at least to this olelongrooffan, was this distribution tank I spotted later in the pits while I was out on the grid. It is supplied by Sunoco for the three teams running diesel in the Rolex24 at Daytona this year. And to my fellow Hoons who operate diesel powered machines in your real HooniLife. This fuel has been tested to start at 38 degrees with no additional additives needed. And I realized there were no noticeable diesel fumes during the running of those race cars while they were parked in the garage bays.

As a side note, none of the three MazdaSpeedSource diesel entries lasted past the two hour mark on a full time basis. The 00 did get out a little later for a few additional laps but on Sunday Morning, they were all on transporters and heading home.

But I can’t wait to see these diesels run this season and for the second time at the Daytona International Speedway the next time around.

Images Copyright Hooniverse 2013/longrooffan

  • I was amazed to read that they are running 70 lbs of boost in them. It's enough to make me wonder if it was a typo.

    • danleym

      Something like a 14:1 compression ratio, though. The more compression, the more boost you would need, I imagine.

  • “Sunoco distributes it for us through their distributions facilities. Due to the composition of this fuel, it can be run through their existing pipelines and then is separated from regular gasoline at the final destination without any problems,”

    Am I the only one who finds this surprising?

    • danleym

      We may have some oil industry worker here who can explain this better, but I'm certified to work on Hazmat release incidents, and what I got from that training was that a lot of pipelines are used for multiple fuel types- as in the same line can flow diesel and gas, and as far as I know unrefined oil, as well. The use a huge air bubble between the different types of oil to keep them from mixing (I'm pretty sure it was air, either way there is a divider of some other fluid that separates them). I'm sure this is the same way- put that divider in the pipeline, run however much of the chicken derived biodiesel they need, throw in another divider, and push more 87 octane gas, or whatever.

      • That would make more sense, I was envisioning a heated tower to separate the two mixed fuels, sort of a secondary refining process.

      • There's a guy standing at the end of the pipe saying, "Chickens to the left, dinos to the right".

        • Vairship

          "Here I am,
          Back in the middle with you"

  • MVEilenstein

    I think the Mazda6 is a great car, and I'm pleasantly surprised to hear that their diesel is made from chicken byproducts. However, the fact that all three cars failed so soon after the race started is concerning.

  • Remdog

    When you take a fwd based car and convert it to rwd for racing, do they change also move the engine from in front of the front axle to behind it, or is that not possible when utilizing the original-ish body? I've always wondered. It looks like they tucked it between the axle and the bulkhead from the photos, but I would think packaging restraints would make that impossible.

    • apfeifer3

      It is not really a production car switched, it is a tube frame car they throw a body on so none of that is a concern in the end.

    • MVEilenstein

      Think V8 Supercars. The new generation. #onecagetorulethemall

      • Vairship

        One Cage to Rule the Mall?

        • MVEilenstein

          I thought about that as soon as I wrote it.Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  • BradleyBrownell

    The new Mazda6 Grand Am car is the same Riley built tube-frame chassis that they used for the old RX-8 race cars. They are basically a slightly longer wheelbase diesel RX-8 with a modified body.