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: gallery.asiaforest.org

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.



How Fast Is the 2016 MX-5?

At CorkSport, we can’t wait for the new 2016 MX-5.

Our pre-ordered MX-5

We pre-ordered ours as soon as the sale went live, and we’ve been planning new Miata parts and upgrades since we first heard about the launch. The actual R&D has to wait until we have the MX-5 in our garage, but that hasn’t hampered our excitement—especially when we read the reviews of the lucky first drivers, who all love the car’s new updates.

This little roadster has been turning heads since it first hit the roads. During a recent balance test, Dave Coleman, the Miata Product Manager, said, “The Miata really is the most pure, elemental, simple, straightforward sports car you can get.” Whether you own one or not, it’s hard to disagree that the MX-5 is a beautiful piece of engineering. Just about every Miata model looks pretty and effortless—but at CorkSport we always want to know: How does it fare on the road? (Or better yet, at the track?)

We love speed, power, and handling at CorkSport, and most our products are designed to give your Mazda the most boost and control possible. From all of its initial reviews, it sounds like the new MX-5 engineers had similar aspirations, and from the videos we’ve seen, it looks like they succeeded.

Mazda UK just released a test drive video, showing how the new 2016 MX-5 compares to the original 1990 MkI. Given how much has changed in engine technology over the past 25 years, they gave the original a nice 4-second head start, just to make things fair. The result reveals the beauty of both designs—and promises viewers that the new Miata will be just as fun (and great) to drive as the first one.

If that doesn’t make you want to hit the track in a Miata, nothing will. We can’t wait to do tests of our own, so stay tuned.




Track Day at the Oregon Raceway Park

Last weekend I experienced my first track day ever, and quite frankly it was awesome. I didn’t really know what to expect because I only knew autocross and track in the context of a Formula SAE race car. In short: Ripping around a track at 100mph is far more exciting than ripping around a cone at 35mph.

Oregon Raceway Park (ORP) is located in Grass Valley, OR in the rolling hills just south of the gorge—also know as “BFN.” Now, that’s not intended to be a negative, just an observation. The location of the track is open and beautiful, which you’ll see in the following images. It’s a bit of a drive, but oh: So worth it.

OK, back to the track. The image below is the terrain track map with the descriptions of each straightaway, turn, and associated components of a fully functional road race course. 16 turns make up this beautiful 2.3 mile loop that has as many elevation changes as a roller coaster.

Oregon Raceway Map

At the Track

So what was my first track day experience like?

First, let me provided some background information. My car is a 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 with CorkSport springs/struts, RSB, and a handful of goodies under the hood. That’s all great, but most important to a race car are brakes and tires, and mine are lackluster to say the least. OEM calipers and rotors with some old P ZERO NERO All Seasons are not the best combination for a track day, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

The track day was put on by ORP and Team Continental. The instructors were top notch, and the officials made the event a complete success. The actual event was a High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) with 4 levels ranging from beginner to licensed racing driver, each racing in separate sessions.

A Little Advice

My first suggestion: Get off your high horse and go to an event that provides you with an instructor. I’ll admit, I signed up for the intermediate level HPDE because I thought I had enough experience from autocrossing. Fortunately, the officials running the event kicked me down to the beginner level, which requires an instructor. Mine, Brian, ended up being a wealth of knowledge. He knew the ORP track extremely well, and as a bonus, he had a Ford Focus RS, so he understood the FWD issues I would be facing.

Autocross Race Track Instructor

Next suggestion: Don’t be afraid to go off track, but do be cautious of it. ORP is very forgiving for noobs, as there wasn’t anything to hit off track; but plenty of tracks out there are not at all forgiving. Below, you can see one of the Nator OR guys, Vincent Pham, doing a little off road adventure after coming into a corner too hot. He got his MS3 stopped, then waited for a clearing in traffic and continued on. No harm, no foul. I’m guilty of this as well. I went completely off track once in turn 16, and I still drove my car home.

Motorcross Off Track

My last piece of advice: Go with your buddies! There is nothing more rewarding than passing your buddy in the straightaway and him giving you the one finger salute. Below is a handful of the Nator OR members, and one of the track officials.

Fun at the Autocross Track

All right, one more suggestion: Have fun! That’s why we do this, right? Don’t get frustrated with your driving or your car’s performance, because then you stop having fun. My car was probably one of the more powerful Speeds there, but I had by far the worst tires and most faded brakes holding me back. I decided to focus on my lines and being smooth instead of going for the best lap time I could. My results: Best lap of 2:07 and a day I’ll never forget.

Autocross Racing with CorkSport

Race Cars on the Track

Track Day Outcomes

I highly recommend you participate in a track day, even if you’re only a smidgeon interested. There are two possible outcomes from participating in a track day:

First, you have a good time, but decide one track day in your life was enough. There’s nothing wrong with that, because your daily driving will be improved from just a few hours on the track. Pushing your car on the track lets you find you and your car’s limits, so you’ll be better at assessing and controlling an emergency situation on a public road.

Second, and most likely, you become hooked just like me. You begin scheduling family events around track days, going through tires and brakes like they grow on trees, and calculating your fuel mileage in smiles per gallon. Do yourself a favor as a car enthusiast and participate in the next local track day. I promise you will love it!

Oh! And check out the video below I made from my last session at ORP.

Barett Strecker-01