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Hagerty Employee

Jim Mederer: The Regent of the Rotary

A German inventor created the rotary engine. A team of Japanese engineers got it to work. In 1992, one American made it fly. Screaming across the Bonneville Salt Flats at more than 220 mph, a 760-hp, triple-rotor RX-7 suddenly spins, then flips into the air. The car slides on its roof for what feels like forever, then comes to a halt. A tall, white-suited figure pulls himself from the wreckage, yanks the fire-suppression systems, then strides from the debris like Chuck Yeager walking away from a downed test aircraft.


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Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

RACING BEAT is still one of the top sources for aftermarket (do-what-it-says-it-will-do) go-fast parts. I’ve been a customer multiple times and know Mederer’s name well. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet him. 

Intermediate Driver

A great story, I don't follow the performance side of Mazda much, but it sounds like he was a guy that I would have liked to meet.  We need these kind of guys in the current enviroment.

Advanced Driver

Jim was a true gentleman.  I was fortunate to set three rotary records at Bonneville thanks to him and Racing Beat's comprehensive support. My 1986 run to 238 mph in the first RX7 turbo is also still in the books.  I was very disappointed Jim didn't ask me to drive his '92 car--until I heard that effort ended in a spin and flip.  RIP my dear rotary friend.

Pit Crew

Being somewhat of a rotorhead back in the early 2000's I was of course aware of Racing Beat, but knew little of Mr. Merderer.  Thanks for publishing this.  It's a great story and an important part of rotary engine Facts & Folklore.  However, can someone at Hagerty please advise Mr. McAleer on the definition of "rod" when used in "hot-rodding?"  Thanks.

New Driver

After I started driving my first car - a 1973 red ticket getter RX-3 Coupe - I heard about Racing Beat and made several phone calls to them.  Mederer would often answer the phone and patiently answer my questions.  Their catalogs were great.  Met Oku while getting off the plane once, in Narita, Japan.  Showed up un-announced at the Mazda factory in Hiroshima and was treated royally by staff and engineers.  Would like to go back one day ... their museum is quite awesome now.  Jim, I miss you, and I'm sure you are in a better place ... not having to deal with this PLANdemic and all.