Camel Light DG-3
Mazda 3-rotor: converted to DG-3 WSC, destroyed Sebring 1995.|
Jim Downing realized that after a season of racing the Buick powered DG-2 it was apparent that the costs of rebuilding the engine were particularly high especially when compared to the rebuild costs of the rotary engines. The rotary engines could practically run an entire season with just routine oil changes and plug replacements. And Downing, and Rick Engman were, after all, rotary guys, so it was a natural desire to get back to their Mazda roots. Mazda had made the 3-rotor available to Downing as going back to the 2-rotor 13B would have put Downing back to also-ran status. Downing inquired with IMSA about running the 3-rotor Mazda 13G in Camel Lights, “We just went to bat to convince IMSA to do that.”
The Kudzu DG-3 can be thought of as a Mazda powered DG-2. The DG-3’s bodywork was laid up from many of the same molds as the DG-2 and is essentially identical, but for details. The DG-3 debuted at Road America, partial way through the 1993 IMSA Camel Lights season. This was the first Mazda 3-Rotor car and the car also utilized a sequential gearbox (an IMSA first?). The DG-3 Camel Lights car was designed with WSC rules in mind with the knowledge that ‘93 was the last year for Camel Lights GTP.
But a different possibility was once suggested by Kudzu DG-3 designer David Lynn; the Kudzu DG-2 Buick car could have possibly won the Camel Lights series in ‘93 if it weren’t for the mid-season introduction of the DG-3 (development of the DG-2 was shelved to handle preparation and racing of the DG-3). Instead the DG-3 Camel Lights car was introduced and suffered through a partial season of technical troubles (motor and shifter problems, the sequential shifter was eventually scrapped). But this development was significant in that come ‘94, and the switch over to WSC regulations, the DG-3 already had five races from ‘93 under its belt (as a Camel Light), and they were far ahead of the WSC competition in that respect. Hence Downing/Atlanta won the Driver’s Championship in ‘94 for Wayne Taylor out of sheer reliability and finishes. So either they could have won the last season of Camel Lights (‘93) or the first season of WSC (‘94). They choose the latter and the rest is history.
The convoluted history; the 1995 Le Mans car (pictured bottom left) started life as Kudzu chassis DG-2 #004. The DG-2's aluminum monocoque tub was used to build a new DG-3 WSC after the primary car (006) was destroyed on the final lap of Sebring 1995. With Le Mans only a few weeks away, the shop went into overtime to get this car built in time for Le Mans pre-qualifying. Thus it can be very much argued that chassis 006 no longer exits, except as a donor to 004. However, to avoid any issues at Le Mans, 006's serial plate would be applied to the donor tub, perpetuating the serial number.
ęCopyright 2015, Michael J. Fuller