Founded in 1997, Southern California RX recently hosted their 17th annual SevenStock (SS17) meet at Auto Club Speedway. This event started from a gathering of 10 friends back in 1998, at it's peak 5,000-6,000 attended, and this year's SevenStock 17 boasted a strong showing of approximately 400 cars on display and track with 3,500 to 4,000 spectators.
This year a special feature was historic Mazda prototype race cars on track via SevenStock's partnership with Mazda. The "regular" guys also got to run, in partnership with Extreme Speed Track Events, this year the group hosted a track event on the world class Auto Club Speedway Roval track with 90 spots open to all Mazda models and beginner, intermediate and advanced classes.
To keep with the original BBQ atmosphere of the first meets, SevenStock sponsored a car show presenting rotary powered and Mazda rotary chassis vehicles.
While out at SS 17 I had the pleasure of meeting Berny Herrera, one of the original founders of SevenStock, to get some more background on this deeply rooted event.
The first three SevenStock gatherings were held at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA with the initial meet in 1997 with just a group of 10 friends gathering together. All of the participants agreed to meet the following year and the group grew from 10 people to 50 people. By the conclusion of SevenStock 2, Mazdatrix and Racing Beat heard about the event and decided to join in with a showing of over 200 people at the park during SevenStock 3 where they held their first raffle.
With the internet growing, the word about the SevenStock meets had gotten around and Mazda North America agreed to host SevenStock 4 at the Mazda Research and Development center in Irvine, CA. SevenStock 4 made it different though, MazdaSpeed decided to debut their #55 Le Mans winning 787b prototype which garnered an all-time high attendance record of 5,000-6,000 participants showing up and an excess of 500 cars and VIP’s from Japan to include previous presidents and engineers were flown in to attend.
In 1995, many of us know the production of the coveted RX7 grinded to a halt and organizations like the RX-7 Club of America with 100k plus members dissolved. “Shops kept the enthusiasts going, but the old school guys disappeared” says Berny. In light of the dissolution, the folks at SevenStock were able to keep the community united, even with the nine-year rotary hiatus, until the introduction of the RX8 in 2004.
With the generation gap between the RX7 and RX8, enthusiasts saw a new genre of rotary followers. The RX8 was attracting a larger female population and first-time buyers, but also didn’t achieve the sales numbers Mazda wanted. Hopefully we'll see Mazda push out the rumored twin-scroll turbocharged rotary powerplant in 2017.
In light of the discontinued RX8, SevenStock was able to keep the rotary beat strong with a turnout of over 5,000 attendees at Willow Springs International Raceway during Mazfest 2012. Berny says “The sale of the Ford design facility, adjacent to Mazda Corporation’s facility in Irvine prevented SevenStock from continuing to be held at the Mazda facility after SS13.” Due to its success and family oriented gatherings, SevenStock chose to collaborate with Extreme Speed Track Events to expand the community and capitalize on its following.
One of the greatest things you’ll notice, other than the cars and the people at SevenStock, is the fact that it remains a non-profit organization. “By enthusiasts, for enthusiasts” Berny mentions. The dedicated staff of Jeff Garcia, Andy Lee, Latross Carrol and Gary Salva have been instrumental in ensuring they keep the BBQ atmosphere to SevenStock. Only such a love and passion could draw people from as far as Rhode Island, Japan, Germany, New Zealand and Australia.
As large and as long as this event has been going, I’m impressed... the event has never taken official sponsorship. They simply charge vendors to cover venue and insurance costs, and use raffle and t-shirt sales to keep the event going. Add it to your calendar next year if you've never been, sevenstock.org.
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