1983 Mazda RX-7 Former IT7 Track Car Resurrection

It’s not every day that you receive a gift like a 1983 Mazda RX-7, especially one with such a rich racing history. This particular RX-7 was previously raced in SCCA IT7 for a decade before it was retired and left to sit for ten years. However, three years ago, the car found a new home with me, and the challenge of bringing it back to life began.

Aesthetics and Mechanics

Considering its age and racing background, the RX-7’s aesthetics weren’t in terrible shape. Yet, there were clear signs of wear and tear from its time on the track. Mechanically, though, the car was surprisingly well-preserved. The main issues were typical rubber wear items that required replacing and the presence of old, deteriorated fuel in the tank and carburetor.

This particular RX-7 had been built to IT7 specifications during its racing days. It boasted a full roll cage, minimal interior, adjustable shocks (albeit now dead), a free-flowing exhaust with a header, a 4.88 limited-slip rear differential, and four-wheel disc brakes. The track-focused modifications also included modifications to the Nikki carburetor, removing the emissions equipment typically found in cars of that era. The engine had been rebuilt to comply with IT7 specifications but hadn’t undergone any additional modifications.

Getting the Car Back on Track

The first step was getting the RX-7 up and running again. Fortunately, these cars are known for their simplicity, so the task wasn’t overly complex. However, parts availability became a hurdle. While I managed to find everything I needed so far, it’s clear that the RX-7 isn’t the most well-supported car in terms of aftermarket options.

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Both the giver and I had the same goal when the car was gifted – to resurrect it and return it to the track as an active racer. Personally, I had my sights set on track driving, with a particular interest in endurance racing. Initially, the goal was to participate in the 24 Hours of Lemons, and that may still be the plan. Currently, I have attended several Track Night in America sessions at Heartland Park in Topeka. Unfortunately, the track is shutting down, and I’m uncertain about the alternatives available near me.

While the car is mostly sorted now, I still have some fueling issues when on the primary carburetor circuit. I converted the carburetor to mechanical secondaries, but it seems that I didn’t completely clean out all the debris during the rebuild. Nevertheless, the RX-7 has performed flawlessly in extreme temperatures of over 100°F, except for the mentioned fueling issue. However, it’s not as fast as I’d like it to be.

Finding its Place in Racing

Currently, my main goal is to fine-tune the car and address the fueling issue. However, I’ve encountered difficulties finding a racing series where the RX-7 fits in. I wonder if there are any other options besides Lemons where it can be even remotely competitive, or at the very least, not ridiculously slow compared to other vehicles on the track.

While considering the 24 Hours of Lemons, I also have concerns about the distance between my helmet and the roll cage. Standing at just over 6 feet tall, my helmet tends to touch the bar at the top of the driver’s door. Additionally, I need to ensure that the car complies with the safety regulations outlined by the series, given the differences between the safety standards at the time the RX-7 was built and the present day.

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At the moment, I find myself at a crossroads with the car. I’m determined to get it running perfectly, but I’m also contemplating whether an engine swap, such as an RX-8 engine, would give it the power boost it needs. Alternatively, I wonder if the car has reached a stage where it simply doesn’t fit into any racing series anymore. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions from fellow enthusiasts who have faced similar dilemmas.

FAQs

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Conclusion

The journey of resurrecting a 1983 Mazda RX-7 IT7 track car has been both exhilarating and challenging. Despite its age, the car has proven to be a resilient project. The goal of returning it to the track is still in sight, but finding the right racing series or determining if an engine swap is necessary remains undecided.

The 1983 Mazda RX-7 holds a special place in automotive history, and the dedication it takes to restore and race such a car is a testament to the love and passion we have for automobiles. As the journey continues, I’m reminded of the thrill and satisfaction that comes with breathing new life into a classic racing machine.

Car enthusiasts, like yourself, understand the connection we have with these vehicles. They represent our dreams, our challenges, and our adventures. Whether it’s a legendary RX-7 or any other car that captures our hearts, the joy we find in bringing them back to life is unparalleled.

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