Mazda Furai Concept Sneak Peek

An Endurance Racer for the Street?

By David Surace


On Tuesday Mazda issued a press release to announce its showcase lineup for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this coming January. Included in the list was Mazda’s eye-catching Taiki concept from this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, plus the promise of a substantial (and much needed) mid-cycle enhancement for the RX-8.

The star attraction, however, for anyone who follows the American Le Mans Series here or the Le Mans Endurance Series overseas, is Mazda’s forthcoming Furai concept, a teaser shot of which was sent along with the press release on Tuesday.

The photograph reveals scarce information other than a closed-cockpit configuration, Mazda’s famous “stitch” livery, and a prominently featured Ethanol logo. Mazda apparently wanted a concept car that would back up its motorsports message—as it explained in its press release, “on any given weekend, there are more Mazda-powered cars road-raced than any other brand[.]”

They picked quite a package to do it, as well, underpinned by a Courage C65 chassis, which campaigned in the ALMS (most likely under LMP2 rules) two seasons ago, combined with a three-rotor racing engine which runs on British Petroleum-formulated 100% ethanol (E100) and produces a claimed 450hp. The word Furai (pronounced foo-RYE) apparently translates from the Japanese as “sound of the wind”, which is appropriate considering the seemingly race-ready aerodynamic bits (like the exposed wheel-pontoon louvers and the air-extractor just behind the cockpit) which have been artfully fused into the bodyshell by Mazda North America design director Franz von Holzhausen.

Said Mr. Holzhausen from the press release, “Furai purposely blurs boundaries that have traditionally distinguished street cars from track cars. Historically, there has been a gap between single-purpose racecars and street-legal models–commonly called supercars–that emulate the real racers on the road. Furai bridges that gap like no car has ever done before.”

Judging by the information we have, with the Furai concept there may be no gap at all.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at

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  1. From what I have read about rotary engines, I think they are easily adaptable to various sorts of fuel, much more so than piston engines. If I recall, a rotary wil run on propane, ethanol, gasoline, kerosene, etc. with fairly minor modifications for each. Maybe we”l see more rotary powerplants i the future as different fuels are utilized istead og gasoline.

  2. One thing about rotary engines is that they are extremely, extremely durable. They don’t need a lot of maintenance and the service life is very long. Great for endurance racers, but is it valuable for the average motorist? The engine will soldier on while the car starts to fall apart around it at 100,000 miles, 150,000 miles, etc. It doesn’t matter if the engine will go 300,000 miles if the car that it’s in will only go 100,000 miles without starting to need major and expensive repairs.

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