Here at Top Speed we love anything and everything that goes fast, so during our weekend on the Monterey peninsula we had to make a stop at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the MotoGP Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. Once there we were pleasantly surprised when the track staff offered us the opportunity to take a ride around the prestigious racing circuit aboard one of Mazda’s modified safety cars. The lineup of matte black and white pace cars included an RX-8 four door sports coupe, a CX-7 crossover and the all new Mazda 6 .
At first we were a little disappointed not to see a Miata wearing the pace car livery, equipped with the fancy amber light bar and beefier tires allowing the trio of Mazdas to corner like champions and stay ahead of the two wheeled racers. However, after a quick trip in the CX-7 and Mazda 6 , we were absolutely convinced that the Miata’s fun to drive DNA runs rich throughout the entire automaker’s lineup.
When the track marshall told me to get into the CX-7, our thoughts were limited to, “what a bummer, we come all the way to California and we get stuck riding in the cow of the group", boy were we wrong. Inside the crossover everything was stock except for a circuit board to control the flashing lights and a roll bar that gave the bright blue Scroth 4 point racing harnesses a place to secure themselves to while we were strapped in tight to the leather wrapped seat. The only modification to the drive train of the Euro-spec CX-7 were a set of Brembo brakes and a set of plus sized forged TE-37 wheels from Volk Racing wrapped in sticky rubber.
Nevertheless, it seems that these basic modifications were enough to turn the CX-7 into a track day special. It was amazing how well the sports inspired crossover handled on the track. We were instantaneously blown away by how fast this little Sport-Utility could lap the circuit, and especially the way that the driver was able to tame the infamous corkscrew. We were surprised to find ourselves on the heels of the other safety cars, the driver was really hammering it. Truning in sharply, pumping the steering wheel like mad, clipping the apexes, pushing the CX-7 to its limit. The car did an amazing job of staying on track. Mazda has truly figured out a way to incorporate their zoom-zoom high performance attitude into even the most unlikely of products.
Check the gallery for more photos and details about each of the cars.