For the last five years, July 7th has become a holiday for enthusiasts of not just the RX-7 but overall Japanese automobiles in general. Thanks to the good people over at PrimeNYC, 7/7 is now known in the East Coast automotive community as 7’s Day — a date on which one of the most beloved and bizarre Japanese sports cars ever produced is celebrated in grand style by car nerds and enthusiasts alike.
There is no question that COVID-19 has put a damper on the automotive community’s meets and, well, social gatherings as a whole. However, it didn’t stop a large amount of us Northeasterners from throwing on face masks, bringing hand sanitizer, and replacing hugs with fist bumps to support and appreciate this special night dedicated to Mazda’s RX-7 model and that unique piston-less engine.
7’s Day is not a conventional vehicle gathering. It’s an assembly of enthusiasts broken up into a few different destinations with cruising in between each one. The event’s organizers describe it as “a street meet/cruise”; 7’s Day begins on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River at Overpeck Park in Fort Lee, where vehicles gather between 6:30–8 pm and subsequently cruise into New York City. There was such a big turnout at the park that both entrances were closed off by the time I arrived with my rolls of film and camera in tow. I joined a somewhat confused and separated convoy across the George Washington Bridge to the second destination, a very well-known and often-used meet location in Harlem. Upon arriving, I found myself in a beautifully chaotic vehicular mess. Automobiles were parked everywhere, including double-parked spots and filling up entire dead-end roads. Cars that couldn’t find a place to park settled for driving up and down the street repeatedly for a prolonged period, to stay close.
Once I arrived in Harlem, I got a glimpse of what I missed out on at Overpeck Park. Every generation of RX-7 and all of the top Japanese automotive icons of the past few decades filled the streets. There were EK Civics, R34 Skylines, old 240Zs, and proper S13s — it was a JDM enthusiast’s paradise.
The sense of community was strong. While the celebration is based around the RX-7, the plethora of other vehicles that came out in support and recognition of them was a beautiful sight, especially since most of us in attendance haven’t experienced anything automotive or social in quite some time. This evening was indeed a treat.
As the projected time of departure from this location approached, the NYPD — who actually somewhat cooperated and helped to redirect traffic — seemed to reach a breaking point. They wanted everyone to disperse, or at least, loosely suggested it without enforcing too much. I saw an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the pack at 50th and 7th and walk to Times Square before anyone got there. This strategy would grant me a solid vantage point to photograph the convoy going through Manhattan’s famous epicenter. There was only one problem: a second convoy that was not associated with PrimeNYC was already there.
By the time we arrived, the NYPD had set up barricades preventing the opportunity to cruise through Times Square. They organized squad cars and officers in front of the barriers to redirect traffic. It was unfortunate because the Times Square tour is the climax of the night that everyone looks forward to. However, we made do with the situation at hand, and the PrimeNYC 7’s Day crew navigated around the surrounding blocks instead. While I was bummed at the time, it was a blessing in disguise that made for some great photographs.
I was pleased to find a wide array of everything from gorgeous FD RX-7s to restored RX-3s. Race fuel was in the air, and the rotary engine’s one-of-a-kind melody replaced the non-existent busy NYC evening noise. Amongst the RX-7s creating their buzz, a Suzuki Samurai and a Toyota Starlet’s tones masqueraded as the legendary automobile. Perfectly mimicking its distinct sound thanks to rotary engines equipped underhood.
After walking several laps around the block, I noticed the same cars were coming around repeatedly. I drove to the final meet location of the night: 28th and 11th, a known location for the conclusion of most NYC gatherings hosted by PrimeNYC. By the time I arrived, 28th was flooded with vehicles. Here I saw all of the cars from the Harlem and Times Square meet locations and some I hadn’t seen all night, all in the same place.
They were parked all the way up 28th and across 10th Avenue as well. At this point, 7’s Day became more of a social gathering. People opted to get out of their cars, walk around, and run into old friends. While some people used this as an opportunity to chat and catch up, others used this as a parade. Driving up, around, and back on 28th in the slow-moving, backed-up traffic of tuner cars that infested the area.
Nonetheless, this location proved to be a perfect place to conclude the evening, hang out, exchange goodbyes, and part ways — which is what I planned on doing. However, this 7’s Day ended differently for me.
Upon leaving, a close friend informed me that Edwin Reyes, co-founder of PrimeNYC, had organized a select group of vehicles to follow him and cruise through Times Square. Now that the police barricades were no longer in place, the cars could travel the intended route. Sadly, by this time of night, I’d shot through my last roll of Cinestill 800T. I could only find a roll of Ultramax 400 in my camera bag, so I loaded that into my camera and settled for at least being able to get photos of this, even though it wasn’t in my preferred stock.
As the invited convoy arrived, I noticed it was led by Edwin’s Car Modify Wonder-kitted S14. It also featured a pair of AE86s, Willy of Nostalgic Grain’s insane BMW 3.0 CSL build, Ricky Pen’s bagged right-hand-drive FD3S RX-7 and a few other specialized builds. Once this concluded, the night was now complete, and everything was right with the world as the 7’s Day cruise took its journey through Times Square.
These last few months have been complicated, full of worry and doubt, along with the overwhelming feeling that something is wrong. While this may be our current reality, it was nice to get away from that for a night, nerd out over these silly cars we enjoy so much, and celebrate their existence with friends. With the event’s 2020 iteration in the books, I’ve already begun looking forward to another 7’s Day next year, but I learned a valuable lesson this time around. I know that whatever state the world might find itself in, we’ll still find a way to take a night to break away from it all.