As a tiny country at the bottom of the world, New Zealand has a very strong car community — one that thrives in all facets. This is especially true when it comes to the rotary community, so it was no surprise that the very first REunion (yes we have trouble saying the name also) was a complete hit with more than 100 rotary-powered machines showing up to represent Mr Felix Wankel — German mechanical engineer and inventor.
The event was the brain child of Guy 'Madmax' Maxwell , who alongside event partner Rene Richmond, have been working tirelessly to get the event off the ground, even securing support from local Mazda dealer, Central Motor Group. Even though he was running around like a mad man during the day, Rene still found time to get out and kill some tyres in his 13B PP RX-3 and FD3S drift car.
Ricoh's Taupo Motorsport Park played host to the Powercruise-style event. Cruising, burnouts, flag-drop drags, and drifting made for a jam-packed event schedule.
But easily the best moment was first thing in the morning, having all 100-plus rotaries buzzing together out on the track. There was over 50 years of Mazda history (and a few hybrids) and everything from street cars to full-blown race machines.
I'm pretty sure half the cars running the flag-drop drags did so only for the pre-stage burnouts.
No one likes to lose, so it was all game faces waiting for the flag to drop.
While out on track it was much more relaxed in the cruise sessions. The car of the event for me would have to be Andy Duffin's RX-3 coupe. While many will know Andy's race car, this RX-3 is a new edition to his shed; a genuine bosozoku car out of Japan, one we'll will be taking a closer look at in the near future.
It was great to see plenty of Pro7 and GT cars supporting the event. Shaun Judd used it as a shakedown for his re-engineered FC RX-7. But as we all know, rotaries have a tenancy to spit flames — very big flames, which have a tendency to melt things.
This resulted in a slightly charred FC. Thankfully it didn't melt the fuel tank as things could have been a hell of a lot worse.
A good number of drifters threw it down, including Sean Jones's 13B PP–powered KE30. Always an impressive car to watch, considering the capacity of the engine — ROTARY POWER.
Arni's FC RX-7 is one of the those cars that we just can't walk past without snapping a few shots. Those poor canards took a beating all day long.
Kiwi-racetrack cuisine before the sauce dip. I have to say the team at Taupo do a killer flat white.
Like any rotary event, the burnout competition was well attended. Andew Bailie's 1200 ute, another classic New Zealand car, was good to see out. I guess this was the whole ethos behind the event and the name; A reunion of old faces, old cars, and even new faces and even newer cars. To put it simply it was like a school reunion, but without the bulls##t.
And there was plenty of track time, lots of which were the cruising sessions with mates. This style of event has grown hugely in popularity here in New Zealand, and you can see why. No fear of getting pulled over and ticketed (a serious downside to owning a rotary).
My hat goes off to Rene, Guy, and everyone else involved in putting this event on. With such a great response from the first one ever, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will only get bigger and better next time around. We will have more coverage in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 222, but in the meantime here is a gallery of all the action.