What’s In Our Garage: Dustin’s Custom Projects

So you may not realize this, but most of us at CorkSport are actually car guys/girls. While I’m sure most of you are at least somewhat familiar with what we have here as far as company cars, I was thinking you may be curious what some of us are working on when we’re not “on the clock” so to speak. That being said, first I’ll give you a little bit of my background as it relates to cars.

When I first came to CS back in 2011, I was probably a bit of the odd man out when it comes to cars. While I’d owned and customized 40 to 50 (or more) cars, I’d never really been into the import scene. I was always more into lowriders, 4x4s, old school customs, minitrucks, and pretty much anything and everything that was not a tuner car. When I started, my daily driver was a fully airbagged 1976 Chevy stepside truck (see below), and I had two other old school projects at home: a 1955 Pontiac which was also bagged, and I was building a 1963 GMC big window shortbed.

This was my daily driver and that was more or less my normal ride height. Of course all of the tuner guys at CS thought it was pretty funny (which I get). A lot of people wonder “why would you build something to drag it down the street?” My answer is, “because I can and most people can’t.”

The Pontiac was a little bit classier and, while fully bagged, it didn’t “lay frame.” This car was more about the custom body work that you would never notice unless you know what a stock ’55 Pontiac is supposed to look like, specifically the rear end.

 

Those vehicles are long gone by now, so what have I been working on since then? Immediately after those, I bought an MS6, which you may have seen in the past. We used it at CS for product development and testing on various products, so I’m pretty sure some pics made it to the old interwebs at some point. That was my first taste of a tuner car and, while it was fun to drive, it just wasn’t my thing. So I sold it to another employee here.

 

Since then, I’ve played with a few 4×4 trucks, a diesel Silverado, and a ’97 F-150 which I still have and plan to build into a desert truck at some point (though that’s not yet in the project status). So what am I working on? I’m taking it back to the old school and building a minitruck — and yes, it is a Mazda but that’s just a coincidence.

 

A little backstory on this truck and how this project came to be: I’m probably older than most of you, but when I was a kid in the late ‘80s, minitrucks were the thing. 15” wheels were considered big wheels back then, and 195/50x15s were the standard low profile tires — quite a bit different than today. So when I was 12 in 1990, my mom went and bought this ’89 Mazda B2200 which was already lowered and had fancy red 15” wheels and a red tenneau cover. It was a pretty sweet truck by most peoples’ standards back then and IT WAS MY MOM’S! Seriously, whose mom drives a sweet minitruck?

I don’t really have many old pics of it, but this was when I borrowed it from her to haul a motor for my ’63 GMC project.

 

Even at 12, I loved cars. I would spend my time reading “Lowrider Magazine” or “Mini Truckin’” and drawing pictures of customized cars, so of course I was in love with the truck. I dreamt of my mom giving it to me when I turned 16 and got my license (which didn’t happen), and all of the cool stuff I would do to it. At some point when I was probably 14, the truck was stolen and wrecked which destroyed one of the wheels. You couldn’t get them anymore, so my mom put the ugly Moderns on it, which you can see in the pic above. Then later something happened to the tonneau (don’t remember what). Needless to say, time took its toll on the truck. It wasn’t the same truck anymore, but it didn’t change or take away all the time I spent daydreaming about all of the things I wanted to do to that truck as a teen.

 

So fast-forward 24 to 25 years. My mom was retiring and didn’t need the truck anymore. At this point, it was just a 25-year-old B2200, so it wasn’t worth much to anyone aside from me. She said if I wanted it, I could have it, so of course I jumped on it as I’d been thinking about this truck and what I would do to it for over half of my life. So what were my plans for it?

 

I wanted to mix keeping it how it was with doing some of the things I’d thought about over the years. So the first thing I had to do was put some red wheels on it again, as that’s how it was when I was young. However, I wanted to cross it with a bit of my preferred “old school” style, so I had to mix it up a bit. I picked up some 15” steelies with chrome center caps and had the wheels powder coated red. I also wanted wide white wall tires, but I couldn’t find the size I wanted, so I got other tires and added some Porta-walls for the wide white look. I then replaced all of the bushings and ball joints in the front end and added the new wheels and tires.

Anybody that knows me and my taste for vehicles would know that I wasn’t done at this point, so I continued to collect components for the next step. Full air ride was on its way. I got everything needed to bag it, including a complete 4-link kit for the rear. (Sorry for the blurry pic; it’s what I got.)

I then kind of lost motivation, so the truck largely just sat in my garage for the last couple of years. But a couple of months ago, I started working on it again. I started with notching the frame in the rear so when the suspension is aired out, the frame will sit on the ground (lay frame). I then welded in the 4-link rear suspension as seen below. I used the factory front leaf spring perch for the lower bars. (They’re there; you just can’t see them.)

Then I turned my attention to the front end. If you know anything about these trucks, you know they have a torsion bar front suspension. And if you know anything about bagging stuff, you know that isn’t the easiest starting point for airbags. Preferably you’d start with coil springs, because then you just have to remove the stock coil and put an airbag in its place (more or less). Since these are torsion bars, you have to remove most of the existing suspension and build everything you need in the front yourself. I recently finished putting the bags in the front, which is the hardest part of this project, and am now at the point where I can start making mounts and installing all of the hardware in the rear (a.k.a. the fun part).

The frame is, in fact, sitting on the ground in this pic.

 

If you’re curious what my end goal is with this truck, I’ll fill you in: I don’t want to go full custom show truck. I plan to leave the body, faded paint and all, just as it is. I’ll also leave the big ugly mirrors and stock rear bumper, which is the first thing most minitruckers remove. Really my plan was/is to leave everything outside stock, aside from the wheels/tires, and fully bagged. Then I’ll do a custom interior with a nice sound system. The point is not a show truck; I want the stock look of the truck my mom drove for years with the ability to drag the frame down the street and throw sparks. I also plan to see if I can get another red soft tonneau cover made, so it will be a bit closer to the truck I remember as a kid — just better.

 

Other things I’ve considered are an NA 20b swap with a turbo 2 trans, cuz why not? Or maybe a boosted 302 swap, although that may be a bit overkill for such a small truck. It does have an automatic trans, so I don’t love that, but it works fine for low and slow. Anyhow, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a little look at what I play with when I’m not at CS. Maybe you’ll see some updates in the future, maybe not, or maybe you’ll get a look at some of the other guys’ projects around here. Let us know what you’d like to see and we’ll see if we can accommodate.

Love for the Skyactiv

We're going to take apart and upgrade a brand new Mazda 3 with a SkyActiv manual transmission.

We have gotten some great response back from our customers who have the SkyActiv Mazda 3, 6, and CX-5s over the past few years with product suggestions and questions about power, technology, and more.

We're going to take apart and upgrade a brand new Mazda 3 with a SkyActiv manual transmission.

We decided to have an in-house example of Mazda’s current sport model of the Mazda 3, a 2015 2.5 liter SkyActiv manual transmission. As everyone’s favorite television series host has put it in the past: There is no better way to test the breed than motorsports. So that is exactly what we are going to do with this brand new Mazda 3. Strip the interior, outfit it with CorkSport parts, install some safety gear, and go racing.

Want some new Mazda 3 parts? We'll be selling off just about everything.

Yes. We are really going to take apart a perfectly good car to race on the track with a bunch of other people who suffer from the same mental disorder. We will be posting regular updates on the car as we proceed through the build, which will include time on our dyno and results on the races.

This also means there will be a garage sale on brand new parts from this car, interior, wheels, etc. It has every option so if you want something shoot us an email.

Stay tuned for updates.

-Derrick

Meet Derrick from CorkSport. Loves racing, Mazdas, and his CS fam.

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for a Car Guy

Barett-Strecker-2014-12-11-P3

 

It’s about that time of the year where we tear out a piece of a paper and jot down all of our New Years resolutions. Most forget about these resolutions halfway through the year, but this year is your year. It’s time to grasp your resolution with your bare hands and get it done! Here are some New Years resolution ideas that you can incorporate into your own list:

1. Hit the local Autocross event this year.

We all love going in the straight line or hitting the racetrack, but there’s nothing like the accessibility of an Autocross. An autocross gives you more of a visual of your driving abilities and gives your car less of a beating than if you were on a full-length race course or a quarter-mile drag strip. Of course this depends on how smoothly you go through the course and whether or not you lodged any cones in your wheel-well.

2. Buy the Corksport Adjustable Struts & Shocks Combo you’ve always wanted.

We’ve all been here. Every session online you get distracted by visiting the Corksport web store and stop by the Corksport adjustable struts and shocks combo product page. You keep looking into the Mazda forums, doing research, and dreaming how that pesky wheel gap makes your car look like it’s a monster truck. Now is the year to save up and finally treat yourself. Try getting a jar and commit to saving a small percentage of your paycheck to work towards paying off the suspension kit (or any other awesome modification) with straight-up cash.

3. Attend a Mazda Meet.

Butch Bender

There’s nothing like attending a Mazda Meet and talking cars with other Mazda owners. This is where you can get inspiration, connect with other local Mazda owners/enthusiasts, and even local tuning shop owners. Have an issue with your Mazda? We bet you can find somebody at the meet who had the same problem and knows exactly how to fix it. Checking out the forums is a great step but there’s nothing like a Mazda enthusiast actually seeing what the issue is in person. Besides, who doesn’t want to make more Mazda friends?

4. Learn to Race.

We’ve all taken on-ramps at a faster than suggested speed, trying to establish a race-line. It’s fun to think of yourself as a race car driver. What if you can actually be one? There are a lot of opportunities at your local track to get instruction from professional race car drivers. A great place to start is the SCCA website. Maybe it’s time you actually became a race car driver?

5. Let somebody change the radio station or playlist.

Most people hate it when a passenger starts messing with the radio. Who wants to listen to a slow jam with four dudes in the car (maybe some of you do)? From the great words of the most played out song in 2014: let it go! Relax. One day just let a passenger do whatever they want to the radio. Only once of course.

6. Finish that project.

Everybody has that one project that sits untouched in the corner of their garage or shop for what seems like forever. It’s collecting dust, and you’re starting to pile stuff around it. Time to get it out and finish it up. Whether it be plasti-dipping the valve cover, finally getting an alignment after lowering your car, or actually installing that Corksport Transmission Motor Mount that’s been sitting in your garage for a few weeks. Maybe it’s time you set everything aside and just do it.

7. Take a noob out to the shop.

Shop Life

We all have a friend that is very eager to learn more about working on cars or just about cars in general. This person can be just one of your friends or even your 7-year old nephew (it’s never too early to learn how to turn that wrench). It’s time to pass on your knowledge, because, to be honest, everybody remembers that one person that taught them everything to help them get started in tuning and modding. It’s time for you to be THAT person.

8. Help a friend with their project.

We all have that friend who buys a ton of parts and pays for an auto shop to install it for them. It’s time to lend your services and give your friend a helping hand. If you think about it, you can technically complete resolution number 7 and 8 at the same time.

9. Give a friend a bluetooth device.

With all the laws being passed in every state regarding hands-off communication devices in the car, this can not only prevent your friend from receiving a ticket but also keep them safe on the road. Buy one for yourself if you haven’t already!

10. Participate in the next Mazda toy drive.

Mazda Toy Drive

It’s time to give and have fun doing it. Every year a local car club runs a toy drive to benefit needy kids in the area. It’s also a great time to meet other Mazda owners and just talk cars. Most car clubs will do a food drive in November and a toy drive in December. You’ll be doing a good deed and you get to see some awesome local Mazdas.

Don’t forget to put your New Years resolution somewhere that’s highly visible. To be honest it’s hard to complete all the resolutions you ever make but there’s nothing like that accomplished feeling you get when you do complete one.

Good luck this year and don’t forget to keep reminding yourself about your resolutions by posting notes EVERYWHERE!

 

– Corksport

ZoomZoom

2014 SCCA National Championship Runoffs: End of a Long Season

2014 SCCA National Championship Runoffs

So, a few weeks back I attended the 2014 SCCA National Championship runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with aspirations of finishing on the podium in B-Spec with the CorkSport sponsored Mazda 2.

CorkSport Mazda 2

Day One:

The first day was a practice day in order to check out the car and review the changes we made, ensuring that everything was perfect for the three days of qualifying.  After the first test session, we made a few small changes and went back out for the afternoon session…

That’s where things got crazy.

The track was feeling greasy and the car was sliding around a bit, making corner 6 a handful since its taken flat out in a B-Spec car.  On the 7th lap the car drifted to the outside much faster than it had before so I steered into the drift and went off in the dirt. My plan was to ride it out and get back on the track towards the top of the hill.

Needless to say, things did not go as planned…

 

The video above is courtesy of a Spec Miata driver and friend at the track Steven Powers who (being directly behind me) got front row seats to witness the whole thing.

Rather than riding it out of the dirt, the front corner of the Mazda 2 made direct contact with a concrete wall… sideways (which  data showed being at 30mph). After playing 20 questions with the safety crew and getting the car loaded up, I was dropped off in my pit to evaluate the damage and make a plan on what to do next.  We got the car disassembled with help of fellow racers, slowly realizing just how bent up the car really was.  Besides the sheet metal, we had punched several holes in the engine block, broke a wheel, bent the right side control arm and front sub frame.

It took 2 hours to take the car from a crunched mess to the picture below.

 

The Aftermath

Day Two:

I chose to sleep on the decision to either rebuild or scrap the whole weekend race.  The next morning, with an optimistic attitude, we took inventory and made the choice to rebuild the car at the track. Mazdaspeed Motorsports lent a major hand as we started chasing down the parts we would need to replace, while I was hitting the phones looking for a body shop with an empty frame machine so we could get started on the car ASAP.  8 calls later, we had our shop and loaded the car up on a flatbed in order to get the repairs going for straightening the car and getting it ready for a frame rail and shock tower.

More Aftermath

Spectrum Auto Collision was a great help with the overall repair of the car. They got right on the job and loaded the car up on to the frame machine while their awesome technician started straightening the drives side rail. Arrangements were made to have the replacement frame parts arrive to the shop for the following day so they could continue the repairs non-stop, getting the car back together for Thursday’s qualifying session.

corksport racing

Day Three and Four:

Due to a mishap with UPS, we were out one critical part needed to not only start work that Wednesday morning but also have it completed by that afternoon. This complication pushed back the plan that included having the car assembled in time to post a qualifying time.  After a discussion with the race officials, they agreed to let me start at the back of the B-Spec field allowing me to race despite not having a qualifying time. Which was awesome of them.

That Thursday evening, my trusty friend was delivered right back to the track so that we could start the re-assembly process. With the help of my crew, we rebuilt the engine, reinstalled the whole front suspension and sheet metal, and reinstalled the rebuilt motor within two days.

Day Five:

Saturday evening, we fired up the car to make sure it would be ready to go for the race.  After a drive around the paddock, the car was feeling good and ready to race on Sunday.

RACE DAY:

Lucky for us, the B-Spec/T-4 race was the first event on Sunday, meaning the track would be in its best condition.

Since I was at the back of the field, I snagged an opportunity to pass up the stacked up cars on the inside of corner 2 and get passed 2 cars in the first lap. Several laps later I was able to get around one of the HPD Honda fits, putting me in 8th place. The leading Chevy sonic was brought to a stop due to a check engine light, moving him from 1st place to last place and me to 7th. During the race, the Mazda 2 felt really loose (the back of the car was sliding around) and like the tires were wearing out quickly.  This is not expected due to the brand new tires we just had put on the car for the race. BFGoodrich tires always hold up extremely well to the abuse of B-Spec cars.  I reported it to the crew over the radio and I got back an acknowledgement.

CorkSport Racing Accident

If you look at the picture above you can see smoke rolling out of the front wheel. 

Results:

At the end of the race (back in the pits) I saw the driver’s side of the car was coated in Redline MTL transmission fluid which had also been coating the front and rear wheels causing that loose feeling I was getting.

Imagine driving on and off ice whipping through corners at the fastest speed you can go. That is exactly how crazy the race felt driving with the transmission fluid everywhere.

Later I found out that the crew had actually seen the smoke but decided to keep quiet about it so as not to alarm me and keeping me from changing my driving style (which had already been working). I am incredibly thankful they made that call, because it would have changed my driving and possibly caused more problems.

The final result was 7th place, which doesn’t give any trophies from the SCCA but I got something even better from Mazdaspeed.  I was gifted a copy of the book Never Stop Challenging, which chronicles Mazda’s path to winning Le Mans and overcoming all of the challenges they went through.  I was told by a good friend at the track (who has experience in amateur and professional racing) that he had not seen a car with as much damage as we had, rebuilt and make it back onto the track before.

 

Mazdaspeed race

 

Appreciation:

Thank you so much to CorkSport, Monarch Inspections (for the season long logistics support), Mazda Motorsports Crew, John Doonan, Mike Allen, Scott Kaluza, David Cook, and Dean Case who were at the track for the parts sourcing and tech help and the best trophy a Mazda racer could get.

Big thanks to my Dad (aka the crew), Joey Jordan Motorsports (for the help rebuilding the motor and getting the alignment straight), James Wilson and Black Armor Helmets (for driving out to race his 2 from Texas), Brad Green and his crew (for help getting the car taken apart), Steven Powers (for the video) as well as all of the B-Spec racers who I got to compete against all season long.

Last but not least (in any way), I would like to say thank you to my wife Jessica and two daughters for being understanding of my pursuit in racing.

Zoom zoom.

– Derrick from CorkSport

Derrick_HEadshot

Derrick started working with cars when he was in high school.  A friend had a GLC which they tweaked a bit which then became a 323 then into RX-7s and it was all Mazda down hill from there. His current projects are a 1968 Mustang, The 1988 323 GTX (never ending project), 1986 Honda Shadow Motorcycle and a 1968 Silverline Rambler 16′boat. For motorsports activities he has previously participated in drag racing the CorkSport Protege Drag car and Rally Cross with the 323 GTX. Currently he is driving the CorkSport Mazda 2 B-Spec race car.

 

If you attend any events CorkSport is at Derrick will be the guy you will talk to at most of them, so stop by and say hello!

 

Customer Review – Mazdaspeed Adjustable Short Shifter

teddy_track

As a avid driver, and a person who loves to punish my speed on the street and at the track, I’m always looking for parts that help me in any way possible.

Being able to test the short shifter, got me excited,  because anyone who has ever tried to drag race at the track knows, the 1-2 shift is the most crucial shift.  Having used several different short shift plates, and driven gen1 and gen2 speeds with full replacements, I always felt there could be room for improvement.  The short shift plates I have used in the past, no matter how much I adjusted the cables, would either cause gear grinds, or lock me out at high rpm during a flat foot shift. The full replacements, were set too low and too close, causing me to hit my pinky finger against the ashtray lid.

With this shifter, I can set it where I want it, both with the height, and with the throw. I love how it feels going into every gear, no matter how fast I shift, or just cruising around. The night I installed this, I took it out for a test to see how well it would perform. The first thing I noticed right away was how there was no longer any play, or shifter slop. And then taking it all the way thru 3rd to 7200rpm, I flat footed with zero issues. This thing is a winner. I’m confident that when I track next weekend, it will give me a bit of an advantage over the stock shifter,  and those crucial 1-2 shifts will be on point.  I’ve let several of my friends drive it with it installed, and everyone loves it.  It’s a great product, and in my opinion there is no comparison to the TWM full replacement. At more than half the cost, it’s a no brainer.
Anyways,  I will keep you informed on how it performs at the track next weekend, even though I know it will perform flawlessly.

Sincerely,
A CorkSport Custoemr