Kill The Nannies

Nannies. One thing we have discovered while racing our Mazda 3 is that the OEM safety systems in the newest generation of Mazda 3 work well, too well in fact for racing.

Each year, new safety features are added by Mazda which make the cars safer and reduces the risk of collisions. This is great for day to day driving and commuting, but it presents a problem if you plan to take your car to the track to race it.

The OEM system in the car really frowns on lifting a rear tire off the ground, or when you get wheel spin accelerating out of a slow speed corner. They design the cars against these things happening for safety purposes (understandably). However, Mazda does give you a button on your dash to turn off the traction control. This gets us racers around the limitations to a certain degree.

Let me explain:

When you disengage traction control, the system which measures yaw/pitch and ensures your car has all the wheels on the ground is actually still working, even with the button off. What the button does essentially is give you a sort of leash with more leeway, until the computer thinks you have gone too far of course, then it will kick in traction control again.

So, how do we get past these nanny systems so we can push our cars for maximum performance?

Can you simply unplug the computer which controls the this? I wish it were that simple, but you cannot. The systems in the car are all tied to each other, and the car may not start, it may not run safely, or it may run in a limp mode. A good example of this in our 2015 Mazda3 is: if you unplug the rear view mirror the car won’t start. The ABS is also controlled by the same unit, and this is very handy to have on the track.  The ABS is very good in the Mazda3 by the way, so I recommend you keep it.

The solution we’ve come up with at CorkSport is pretty simple: Leave the computer plugged in and turn it over.

That’s it, simple, nothing else is required. What happens when you turn the computer upside down is the computer loses its physical reference point, so it defaults by turning off the stability control and nannies, but most-importantly, the ABS still functions.

A big word of caution: The computer which controls the nannies also runs the airbags. If you race your car on the track, the airbags will have been removed from your car already. DO NOT drive your airbag-equipped car with the module flipped over.

The reason this solution works for the track is that our Mazda 3 race car has additional safety equipment installed, with the 6-point harness and halo seat, along with the rest of the driver’s safety gear, that keep you from injury in the event of any wrecks.

FYI: When using this “hack”, your Mazda 3 dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree from all of the warnings; but that is a small price to pay for the improved performance while racing.


DISCLAIMER: This modification is for racing purposes ONLY. Doing so will render many of your car’s safety systems ineffective. Installing other safety systems after this modification is essential.


Charging for the WIN!

Track Tested CorkSport Approved AXM Parts – Leading the Pack.

The last race weekend I had available before the runoffs turned out to be pretty interesting.

Locally there are very few T4 (touring 4) class cars so I often find myself running with other class cars and this weekend was no exception at Portland International Raceway. I showed up for qualifying on Friday morning with a new part to test and a suspension setup with something I had not tried.

I looked over the entry list the day before, and there read a list of cars you would expect to clobber a Mazda 3 on the track. 3 Porsche 911s, a pair of V8 mustangs, an STL Miata and more.

To make sure I had a clear track for qualifying, I hustled to the pre-grid to make sure I was the first car out. Straight out of the pits, I went flat out to get some distance on the Porsches to be able to push the car for the entire time I was out qualifying. As I watched the lap timer in the Mazda 3, my times kept dropping lap after lap. 6 laps in and I had already bested my fastest lap time at Portland by a second, so I called it quits and pulled in to the pits.

On the way out of the track I grabbed the time sheet to review and see where I placed. A quick review of the sheet showed I had qualified the Mazda 3 in second out of 10 cars and I was in front of 2 of the Porsches.

The start of the race didn’t go that great. Out of all the cars on the track I was in the bottom ½ for horsepower. But I was making up the speed in the corners.

One of the back cars jumped the start a bit and managed to take us 3 wide into a corner which is only good for 2. I was forced to give up some room to one of the Porsches to keep from having contact which put me back to 4th. Several laps into the race one of the Porsches who got ahead of me at the start spun off the track so I was able to move back up a spot while trying to chase down the leader who was running ~1 second a lap faster than I was. The 30 minute mark came pretty quick, and the race ended on a not-so-exciting note of me being in 3rd, and the leaders ~ ½ a lap ahead and all but a few of the rest of the field being lapped.

The big question you all want to ask is: “What were you testing for the 3rd Gen Mazda 3?”

First things first, the changes we made to the Mazda 3:
  • We made an adjustment with the CorkSport rear adjustable swaybar. Being able to make quick adjustments on the rear swaybar bar allows us to soften the suspension to match the alignment changes.
  • We had taken more rear camber out of the back of the car with the CorkSport adjustable camber arms, trying to decrease rear grip (yes you read that right). We have been having problems with front end push (understeer) so we worked on dialing rear grip out of the car.  – We had the CorkSport front camber plates maxed out for camber to the class limits, but it wasn’t enough to offset the rear grip.
  • We originally were running our CorkSport Mazda 3 adjustable shocks on the track but we had to remove them as they are not legal for the Touring 4 class. The adjustable shocks make a world of a difference over what I have to use on the car and I wish we could’ve changed back. Being able to fine tune the Mazda 3 suspension is a great asset for any performance driver.

Now to the fun, what I got to test that was new:

The engineers here at CorkSport have been working on a revised Mazda 3 Rear engine mount for the 3/6/Cx5 over the past few months. The best way we have to extreme test parts is on the track.

Think of the race-testing this way: I am driving full throttle, banging gears, and when I am off the throttle means I am on the brakes, so there is no time for the mount to get any rest. There is the maximum amount of heat, load, and stress in a compressed time line, compared to street driven cars, so if failure is to occur it would be on the track.

At the end of the month, I will be doing a test on a final version of the rear engine mount at the SCCA Runoffs and competing to bring home a National Championship for CorkSport and Mazda.

This brings me to my next point: All of the parts mentioned above have been punished on the track and had zero failures. I have been on the same rear sway bar, rear camber arms, camber plates, and short ram intake, and cat back exhaust since we started racing the car at Daytona in 2015.

You just can’t beat the fact that our CorkSport parts walk the talk when pushed to the extreme, which means they won’t let you down, no matter what you’re doing.

Charge for the WIN!


Mid-Season Racing Recap

A mid-season recap of the SCCA Western Conference races in the CorkSport Mazda 3.

Technically this is not a mid-season recap, it is more of a three-fourths of a season recap as all of the 6 SCCA Western Conference races are over and I won the conference in the CorkSport Mazda 3.

Autoclub Speedway, Fontana, California: This is the first time we had the Mazda 3 out on a roval and wow it was fast. The only car, which won for top speed, was an Acura RSX type S, which was at the event. I picked up a 3rd place in race one and a DNF in race two, as we had a technical problem with the car. It wasn’t critical but it could have torn up the car, so we stopped after five laps, which put me in 12th place.

Willow Springs, Willow, Springs California: I have never been to Willow Springs and struggled with the car to get a good pace. In race one, I played it safe to keep the car in one piece and finished 9th out of the 13 total cars. In race two, I was much quicker and fought my way up to 5th place. There was lots of traded paint in this race, which put a few cars out of the event.

In race one, I played it safe to keep the car in one piece and finished 9th out of the 13 total cars.

Thunder Hill, Willows, California: I like Thunderhill. I had not driven the Mazda 3 there before, but I have driven the B-Spec Mazda 2 I raced in prior years, and one of Mazda’s TD Mazda 6 which were used in the 25 hours of Thunderhill. In race one, I started at the back of the field due to a timing and scoring issue from the SCCA mixing up my car number, so I got no qualifying time. I was able to get to 3rd place in race one, which wasn’t too bad. I knew I was giving up some time on the track in a few spots after reviewing data, which set me up for race two. Race two went better as I got to fight it out with a NC Mx5 driven by a local driver. Twelve laps in, the Mazda 3 decided it didn’t like me using the brakes as the pads and went bye, bye. This meant I got to drive at 10/10s chasing an Mx5 with no brakes, just lots of metal on metal. When the brakes went, I lost 2nd place so I was playing catch up and throwing the car into corners to slow down. I was able to pressure the Mx5 and he went really wide in a flat out corner, which caused some damage to his car. He pulled into the pits and I was able to take it down a notch and finish in 2nd.

For race one, I qualified 4th out 10 cars which put me on the second row.

Button Willow Raceway, Button Willow: I have raced Button Willow a lot given our location in Vancouver, Washington, and Button Willow being 14 hours south of CorkSport. For race one, I qualified 4th out 10 cars which put me on the second row. The race was uneventful and I was able to keep 4th while holding off the same MX5 driver from Thunderhill. In race two, I got a little crazy at the start with the Acura Rsx from Autoclub and pictured above running the Mx5 off the track during the first lap. Check out my video!

Portland International Raceway, Portland, Oregon: This is my home track as it is all of 10 minutes from CorkSport. This was a pretty quiet race weekend as I qualified second and finished second in both races. I had nothing for the mustang who finished 1st in both races.

The Ridge Motorsport Park, Shelton, WA: I love the ridge, it is a great and challenging track.  We had some mixed conditions where it started raining during race one, so I got to practice car control on race slicks. End result was 1st place. The 2nd race was uneventful and I finished off the weekend with another 1st place.

So this leaves us with one more race for all the marbles at the SCCA runoffs at the end of September at Indy Motor Speedway. Yes, I really get to race at Indy and this is a serious bucket list for any road racer out there. We will be posting a link to watch the race live to see how the Mazda 3 and driver does against 40 other Touring 4 racers. Let’s hope this goes better than last year’s runoffs. I would really like to thank the support for racing the Mazda 3.  All of the parts we use on the track are supplied from CorkSport, the intake, exhaust, swaybar, camber arms, you name it. We are racing what we sell. Big thank you to BFGoodrich Tires for rubber and making sure we have the best tires to race on. This year, BFGracing came through with support for us with tires for the runoffs. Lastly, thank you to Mazda for the awesome car platform and Mazda Motorsports for the tech support with racing a car no one else in the US is running.

2017 Race Season Is Here!

2017 Race Season at CorkSport

The wait is over! It’s finally the time of year where we shed the car covers, finish our tunes and builds, and make any last modifications to get fully prepared for the 1,320-feet road course racing season. As you can imagine, all of us here at CorkSport now have an extra pep in our step with the weather improving and our goals becoming clear.

Built for speed

2017 Race Season at CorkSport

Because I live for racing, I’ve built my car specifically for the drag strip. I have a 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 decked out with:

CorkSport built for speed receipt

Running faster in 2017

During last year’s season, I was able to lay down a pretty raw pass with my full bolt-ons, stock block, and CorkSport turbo. I was happy with a 12.7 elapsed time (ET) at 115 mph — a respectable number if you ask me! This year with my new built bottom end, I am hoping to have more midrange, spray more meth, and run faster. I have a personal goal of trapping 120 mph on the CorkSport turbo. Just imagine how sweet it would be to have a Mazdaspeed 3 trapping 120 mph in the 1,320 with almost no turbo lag!

Whether a racing victory is your goal, or you just want a modded-out dope-looking ride, we want to make sure you guys think about CorkSport when you are looking for parts. I’m proof that our turbo with full bolt-ons is capable of impressive speed. Whether you need suspension components, turbo components, or you just want to have a chat, you know where to find us!



What to do During Racing Off-Season

Racing season is officially over. What do you do when it's the off-season?

The conclusion of the SCCA runoffs came in late September and the NASA western conference is all wrapped up. We’re approaching a horribly sad time of the year for us folk in the north: the racing off-season. Here in Washington, it gets a little bit colder and a whole lot wetter. The days get shorter and the racecars get put into the garages. Except for rally, that stuff goes on all year round because they’re bosses. But all in all, the season dies down.

I personally like to take this time to work on all those little projects I’ve been putting off during the summer months. That engine you were going to rebuild or those quarter panels you said you would paint and fix.

For the enthusiast, the off-season is a good time to bring your ride back up to where you want it to be. For the racer, the off-season is a great time to sit down, plan, and make a strategy for the up-and-coming season. It’s a good time to think about your goals for next year and plan out what races you wish to attend.

As much as I love racing, you still need to make good memories with friends and family that put up with your hobbies. So slow down and enjoy the holidays. Spend time with your friends and family because when summer rolls back around, your best friend becomes your steering wheel. And yes, those are chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Take the off-season of racing to appreciate your family and plan your next season.
Photo Credit:

So guys, what do you like to do in the off-season when you’re not driving the racecar as much? What plans do you have this winter? Share them with us and maybe I can try something new.