by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter

Images via Jason Swoboda

Rear-wheel drive cars have always captivated the imagination of rallying purists, and the Mazda RX-7 has established its place in rally lore as a favorite RWD vehicle. It should be no surprise then that Tower City Race Team’s RX-7, most recently run by Al Dantes Jr. and Brandon Snyder at last month’s Lake Superior Performance Rally, is a popular presence wherever it runs. Today, Al helps us get to know “Rexine” a little better:

When did you pick up this car and where did you get it?

Rexine the RX-7 came completely disassembled and mothballed, half in cardboard boxes, in a straight up trade for my VR-6 Jetta rally car. Mad Mike Halley of Tulsa was the trader, and the car came by way of Tulsa, but originally from Boise and Phoenix.

Why was this the right car for you to use in Rally America?

After competing in front wheel drive for 5 years, the allure of RWD was bright and the timing was right, as we had just finished second overall in 2WD regionally at LSPR. It was time for the VW to leave and to start a new build.

Aside from safety regulations, what have you done to improve its performance?

The car is very, very stock. Aluminum radiator. 30mm VW Rabbit front suspension, and slightly stiffer springs in the rear. Nothing fancy. Just stock turbo rotary reliability!

When it’s not rallying, where’s the home base for this car?

Rexine lives in a tiny, tiny garage in L’Anse Michigan.

When was your first event with this car and how did you do?

Our first event with the car was Central UP Rally in Powers, Michigan. After building the car for five months, I immediately center punched a tree on the third stage. We were able to continue, but forgot the hood pins, and took a second blow with a smashed windshield. For the TKO, the smashed radiator fan wiring shorted out and ignited our steering column wiring at race pace. Not fun. Luckily, in the second event we won 2WD overall regionally, and finished third on the overall podium.

Has anybody else rallied this car over the years?

Yes, this car was originally built by Cable Rhodes. He did 6 events with it out west, won his class in every event, and even won the Rally America Regional Championship at 100AW in 2005.