Mazda RX-7 With 700hp 13B-REW Shoots Flames For Inaugural Poster Shoot

Photographer: Viet "V" Nguyen

  • Pit+Paddock announces new poster series celebrating influential builds and talented photographers.
  • 18×24-inch posters are printed on thick heavy-duty Canon matte paper and use genuine Canon ink.
  • At launch, posters will be numbered and limited to quantity 10 and given away on social media.
  • Poster #1 features a fire-spitting Mazda RX-7 widebody owned by Jonathan Grunwald with photography by Viet Nguyen.

The heydays of print media might be long gone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for people to still enjoy magazines, books, and other tangible media. I, for one, have not given up on my love for print as I still flip through and buy magazines at airport newsstands regularly. Call me old school, but there’s a special feeling about print that you can’t get with digital media. I find this to be most true for high-quality photography. Sure, we can all double-tap the hundreds of photos we come across on Instagram every day, but a photo becomes something so much more when it’s printed, hung up on my wall, or sitting on a coffee table. This is the reason and motivation behind the project I’m proud to introduce today, the Pit+Paddock limited edition poster series.

In the coming months, you’ll be seeing a selection of features where we’ll be showcasing an influential build from the industry combined with the craftsmanship of a well-respected and talented automotive photographer. The end goal is to create a single photograph that will be offered in a poster series, which for the time being, we’ll be giving away on our Instagram page. Eventually, it will be offered in our online store.

Our first poster feature collaborates with Jonathan Grunwald’s 1994 Mazda RX-7 and photographer Viet “V” Nguyen. The shoot took place inside Jonny’s office/warehouse space, where he let his 700hp rotary engine roar. At the same time, me and photographer V did our best to not suffocate from the smoke or go deaf from the two-step. Be sure to check out V’s spotlight and enjoy my interview with Jonny here.

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what it is you do in the industry.
My name is Jonathan Grunwald. I’m a builder, producer, and the owner of TRMNL Racing as well as TCP Magic USA. I’ve project managed, built, and produced numerous SEMA projects over the past decade, own several demo cars partnered with TCP Magic and TRA Kyoto, supply Japanese race teams with parts from the USA, and moonlight on Team Magic with Red Bull’s Formula D team.

Your RX-7 is a bit of a celebrity in the community. Having been to SEMA three times, been a spokesmodel for Toyo Tires, RAYS, and more. Can you summarize the journey of your RX-7?
It’s been quite a journey from changing spark plugs in my childhood driveway to on the street in front of my apartment. The FD was my very first car and has been daily driven up until its first debut at SEMA 2016. Going to all the shows, taking this car camping, and cruising to events has been a lot of fun, but the end goal has always been to track the car. It’s been a long journey to get to that point, but the biggest drive was just to be able to enjoy the car.

It’s now on its third iteration and fourth engine. It seemed that every two years following the SEMA debut, I went for a more extreme or technical change on the vehicle along with the never-ending hunt for more power. The latest changes were to the engine itself along with turbo and fuel systems, a Turblown cast manifold, twin Turbosmart GenV Comp 40 wastegates, and a BorgWarner 9180EFR 1.05 A/R fed by a Lucky 7 Racing full bridge ported 13B-REW. The latest setup on E85 makes 633whp and 500 lb-ft of torque at only 24psi. I have a lot of room on the table to run more boost with a larger exhaust housing and push this motor to its limit.

Why Mazda? Why the RX-7? Why a rotary?
Aside from being an Initial D fan growing up, at the time, I really fell in love with cars and time attack racing. Most of my weekends in high school and college were spent with StopTech’s race team at Redline Time Attack events, so all my friends had STIs and Evos. I wanted to be different and unique. I knew I wanted an FR platform and was obsessed with following Japanese time attack events via Option and Hot Version Japan. I fell in love with the design of the RX-7 and Mazda’s history. I found my car out in Moorpark, CA, for $9,500, and I had an exhaust on it in less than a week. Immediately, I was hooked. The passion, community, and friends I’ve made for life came long before any internet clout or thought of evolving this car into a serious build. You can still find me attacking the canyons in Malibu in my free time, just like back in 2008.

I noticed the latest changes have been swapping to the RAYS new five-spoke wheel and removing the blue wrap. Why the changes, and what can we expect next?
The RX-7 was initially supposed to debut the all-new Volk Racing VR21C at SEMA 2020 along with my RX-8 on the TE37VSL 2021. Unfortunately, COVID ground that plan to a halt. I wanted to go back to my roots and refresh the look back to white with all the new aggressive carbon accents. I recently overhauled my fuel system by installing a new FueledByAI SP1200 V2 Surge Tank and all-new Vibrant Performance fuel lines to switch from Q16 to E85. So next, I’ll be testing a few different BorgWarner exhaust housing and turbo options just to push the limits of the platform and would love to finally make the jump to a billet HGT sequential gearbox. Last but not least, I’ll probably overhaul the interior with some Recaro Japan options and an AEM Performance Electronics CD-7 dash.

Finally, enlighten our readers about this poster shoot and how you were able to shoot flames that big!
This poster shoot was tons of fun at my new private space! It is quite easy to shoot flames on the RX-7 in general as a byproduct of a full bridge is overlap. But in this case, I have two-step antilag enabled on my Adaptronic ECU. So if potentially suffocating indoors wasn’t enough from the fumes, we had an ear-piercing full-bridge motor belching flames out of a 4.0-inch HKS titanium race exhaust…INDOORS! My only concern was if the fuzz was going to show up as they’re only two blocks away. Luckily, we left for tacos with smiles and this wild story.

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