When Mazda got dirty
By Mazda Motorsport | Posted to RACER.com
Mazda obviously has a long history in racing. From open-wheel to prototypes to production-based racers, the company has raced or supported programs at nearly every level – but the vast majority of that racing has been conducted on pavement. While many SCCA RallyCross National Championships have been won in Mazdas recently, and a few diehards will recall Mazda’s efforts in SCCA ProRally, there aren’t many who remember Mazda’s success in stadium off-road truck racing.
In the late 1980s, Mazda contracted with Glenn Harris to race facsimiles of the company’s B-series pickups in the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Championship Gran Prix series. The rotary-powered trucks were tube-framed, designed by legendary off-road, drag racing, road racing and land-speed-record car builder Nye Frank.
“Mickey Thompson was a phenomenal person,” says Dave Clark, Frank’s protégé. “He was able to get the manufacturers involved early, and convinced Frank that Mazda wanted to get involved. There was this guy named Glenn Harris we were running buggies with who put together a deal and had Nye design and build the trucks.”
The team had more than a little success. Harris added Jeff Huber and Rod Millen, who also regularly won in stage rally with Mazdas, as drivers. It was Huber who captured the driver’s title in 1987, with Harris finishing second.