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Kudzu Gallery

1998 Kudzu DLY10

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The Kudzu Company was founded in the mid-1980s by an avid racer named Jim Downing. Mr. Downing's racing career began with an MG TD which helped foster a love for motorsports and auto repair/tuning. He raced with an Elva Courier, formula cars, and sports cars before joining IMSA in 1974 following an invitation from co-founder John Bishop.

During Mr. Downing's forty-five-year racing carer, he raced at Sebring, Daytona, Le Mans and the Nurburgring. He earned 41 career victories and won several Camel Lights championships.

Throughout his IMSA career, Jim was sponsored by the Mazda factory and competed with a variety of Mazda vehicles beginning with the RX-2, RX3, and eventually the RX7. The vehicles were powered by two, three, and four rotors of the Mazda Wankel engine.

In 1984, he competed in an Argo-built prototype. Four years later, he was designing and building a prototype racer of his own design named the Kudzu DG-1, which made its racing debut in September of 1989 at San Antonio.

After the IMSA series folded in 1999, Downing moved to the American Le Mans Series where he raced his Kudzu racer until the end of the 2000 season, before moving to an AutoExe Motorsports prototype.

Although Mr. Downing's accomplishments on the racing circuits around the world were numerous, he is (perhaps) best known for building and wearing the first head and neck restraint in 1986. With assistance from his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Hubbard, they developed the HANS Device restraint system which later became mandatory safety equipment.

The Kudzu DLY
The Kudzu DLY (D for Downing, L for Dave Lynn, and Y for Wayne Yawn) was a Mazda-powered, four-rotor vehicle with 650 horsepower designed for World Sports Car competition and competed from 2000 to 2002. Its aerodynamic body was designed to generator significant downforce with 'low' being the keyword. The frontal area was low, the overall body was low, and the rear wing was low - all with the purpose of minimizing drag and generating downforce. To the right of the driver was an engine intake with a shape designed to reduce drag and improve the intake flow. The main intake at the splitter provides airflow for the water cooler and additional flanking intakes provide airflow for the oil coolers. The suspension setup was courtesy of Lynn and Yawn, and under the Grand-Am rules, the four-rotor Mazda engine was allowed to run unrestricted.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2022

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