NATOR: The Pyramid Scheme You Want to Join

A look at the parking situation at a NATOR group meet up.
If you see a bunch of Mazdaspeeds by a garage, you’re probably looking at a NATOR group.

I’ll admit it up front: NATOR is a pyramid scheme. “What?!” you proclaim. “Isn’t NATOR like family? Who would do that to family?” Let me explain why and how you can become the next Platinum Emerald Neon Iridium special level NATOR member! But seriously, here’s what I’m talking about.

The beginnings of NATOR

Back in the early days of NATOR AL (AL for Alabama), all we had was a few people posting on MazdaSpeedForms.org (MSF) in the South East section. I was relatively new to wrenching, having only recently learned how to change my own oil (yes, I know) or install an intake. Some guy named Ryan invited a few of us to his apartment for burgers, wings (spoiler: the wings weren’t fully cooked), beer, and wrenching. The meet was only four people, but the spark was there. Many stories were traded, laughs were had, and plenty of beer was consumed.

Over the next year, we steadily grew and started really wrenching on cars. Our first big “project” was HPFP internal installs. Only Ryan had done them before. Tension was high for this (now) trivial install, but everything went smoothly. Quick pro tip: There’s no reason to pull the intake or battery box.

Now here’s where the pyramid scheme comes in: It’s about knowledge transfer instead of products or sales. Whereas Ryan was the self-proclaimed “Mazda master tech” that knew everything about working on Speeds, Jason and I quickly picked up the new skill and were able to do HPFP internals later without Ryan’s oversight.

NATOR groups are great for learning about all sorts of Mazdaspeed repairs and mods.
A NATOR teaching moment.

The benefits of NATOR communities

I can hear some of you now: “But Shane, HPFP internals are stupid easy.” And you’d be right. That’s exactly why it’s such a great thing to teach new guys that are timid with a wrench. Eventually, things such as intakes, test pipes, and internals were jobs that I didn’t have to participate in. This is when I realized the greatness of the NATOR pyramid scheme: If I teach someone what I know, then later I can sit back in a lawn chair drinking beer and not lift a finger at a meet. Over the years, I’ve seen countless people with no wrenching experience become comfortable working on their car by themselves. In one case, a member used his knowledge about starting an engine with no fuel pressure to reassure a friend working on a GTI that the car not immediately starting was due to pressure needing to build in the rail before it started cleanly.

Now, we haven’t simply stuck to the basic “intake, test pipe, tune” mods in AL. We’ve pretty much done everything performance-related there is to do on these cars. Countless turbo swaps, a handful of transmission jobs, engine swaps, head rebuilds, timing jobs, suspension swaps, interior gutting — all of these have been done in a NATOR AL garage.

A Mazdaspeed gets towed from a NATOR event.
The helping hand of a NATOR community.

One of the best parts of NATOR is that if you put in work helping someone else out, they’re willing to spend many weekends getting your car working again. We had a local member’s transmission die a horrendous death without any warning. He’d been at meets before and was always willing to lend a hand, so we offered to swap out his transmission. Five weeks, and a TON of fail later, he was back on the road as happy as could be.

Another great benefit is that the community is nationwide and international now. Twice a year, we do epic meets. One’s in April on the East Coast and the other is in late-August/early September in the Midwest. Enthusiasts from all over the country (plus some from Mexico, Canada, and even once someone from Germany) gather to celebrate these awesome cars and the community we’ve built around them.

Perhaps my favorite NATOR story was one involving the Epic Midwest NATOR Meet (EMWNM) in 2015. The meet was incredible with lots of great people attending, tons of alcohol was consumed, go-karts were raced, and many smiles were had. The conclusion of the meet was a track day on Monday at Autobahn Country Club. I spent the first two sessions feeling out the car and learning the track. On the third session, I was chasing down a BMW I had just let pass when I tried to accelerate out of the corner and got nothing. Seconds later, my oil light came on and I dove into the grass to (hopefully) save my engine. No luck … It spun a bearing.

After a very brief diagnostic session in the paddock, I asked a NATOR member if I could have my car towed to his house. He said “yes” immediately. I ordered an engine from Mazda Motorsports and was dropped off at the airport to catch a flight to get home for work. Fast forward three days later to Thursday, I arrive back in Chicago to an engine almost entirely out of the car. I literally took two clamps and a hose off the engine and it was free-hanging on the hoist. NATOR basically took my engine out of my car for me and then helped me put my new one in. Less than a week after I blew my engine, I was back on the road headed home thanks to this community.

A NATOR group in action at a local meet.
A NATOR group in action.

What happened to me (free engine removal) isn’t the norm, but I’d do the same for any of those guys should they ever break down in Alabama. And that’s what NATOR is about: helping a fellow Speed owner in need, whether that’s “I need parts” or “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

How to join NATOR

So how can you get in on this awesome pyramid scheme? Search MSF, MSO (mazdaspeeds.org), or Facebook and find your local NATOR and show up to meets. Heads-up: Local might mean a two- to four-hour drive. Bring food, beer, or tools if you have specialty stuff. Wrench on cars with the NATOR group, or if you aren’t skilled in that, be the guy who grabs tools or makes runs to the parts store. Ask questions to expand your knowledge. Take a new guy under your wing and teach him what you know. As you spend more time with your group, you’ll find others offering help or parts when you need it.

Cheers,

Shane Fry

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Modding Your 2017 Mazda 6

If you just bought a 2017 Mazda 6, these are the mods you need to upgrade your ride.
Time to take this 2017 Mazda 6 to the next level.

You’re the proud owner of a new Mazda 6, so we know you’re a discerning customer when it comes to cars. Off to a good start. And while modding a new vehicle might not be something you’ve considered (“It’s brand new, what could it need?“), there are loads of benefits that your ride can achieve with some simple modification. That’s where CorkSport comes in. Or, if you’ve upgraded your ride to something that looks a bit more professional in the parking lot of your new job, but you still want to tear up the road to and from the office, well … that’s where CorkSport comes in, too.

In the past, we’ve shown you how to take a 2014 Mazda 6 and upgrade it to your liking. We’ve even showcased some great customer success stories when it comes to modding the Mazda 6. Our commitment to our CorkSport family — that’s you guys — doesn’t stop there. We wanted to create the ultimate starter kit for folks that may be new to our family. So here’s where to start if you’re a Mazda 6 beginner looking to mod your new 2017 Mazda 6.

Mazda 6 power mods

Power mods like our 2014+ Mazda 6 SkyActiv Power Series Short Ram Intake are a great place to start.
Our 2014+ Mazda 6 SkyActiv Power Series Short Ram Intake is a great, efficient power mod for your Mazda 6.

Let’s start with speed. You’re not taking your Mazda 6 out racing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to have a little fun from time to time. CorkSport’s power mods for the Mazda 6 add impressive improvements in RPMs, throttle response, and other performance aspects of your new ride. That means you get speed, but you’re also getting efficiency from your vehicle. We’ll get into handling next, but let’s get you set up with some power that requires handling adjustments first.

  1. 2014+ Mazda 6 SkyActiv Power Series Short Ram Intake 2.5 Engine: Reduce your ride’s intake restrictions for some dramatic power improvements throughout the entire RPM range. Bonus: This mod improves your gas mileage, too!
  2. 2014+ Mazda 3/6/Cx5 Short Shift Plate Kit: Reduce shifting throw by 33 percent and get more control over the weight of the knob to hone in on the perfect shifting experience.
  3. 2014+ Mazda 3 And 6 Crankshaft Pulley:  This part reduces the weight of the engine’s rotating assembly to increase throttle response, horsepower, and torque.
  4. Rear Motor Mount for 2014+ Mazda 3 and 6, 2013 Mazda CX-5: This part works with many Mazdas, but for your Mazda 6 it decreases engine movement to boost power transfer from engine to tire. In short, better throttle response, gear-shifting, and driver feedback.
  5. Mazda 6 2014+ Power Series Exhaust: If you’re looking for something a bit more intense, you can give your ride some aggressive sound and power with this part that also adds some nice style.

Mazda 6 handling mods

See how CorkSport handling mods can increase your Mazda 6's drivability.
Drive quality is something that handling mods can boost on a daily basis.

Maybe you needed a more family-friendly ride than your souped-up Mazdaspeed. Maybe you just wanted some of that Mazda kick in your new daily driver. Regardless, CorkSport handling mods are going to make driving your new Mazda 6 a joy. Whether you’re on the morning commute or picking up the kids from soccer practice, we know the urge to accelerate into that turn is strong. Here’s how you can get the handling you crave.

  1. Mazda 6 Adjustable Struts and Shocks: Let’s kick things off with our newest part! With 15 adjustable positions, these shocks and struts reduce rebound up to 70 percent so you can achieve the smooth ride you want. Easy to install and adjust!
  2. 2014+ Mazda 6 Lowering Spring Set: Not only will this part give your car a sleeker look, but by lowering your ride you get faster turn response — great for ride quality and responsive, safe driving.
  3. 2014+ Mazda 3/6/CX5 Big Brake Kit:  Not only does this mod reduce your vehicle weight for better handling, it adds brake power as well. Pretty nice when you can get a mod that improves drivability and boosts safety at the same time. That’s an easy one to talk your wife into!
  4. 2014+ Mazda 6 Rear Sway Bar: Crank that handling up a notch and fine-tune to your heart’s content with our sway bar. Take those corners exactly how you want, no holding back.

Mazda 6 style mods

CorkSport style mods, like our headlight level adjuster, are a great addition to your Mazda 6.
Style and safety come together in our Mazda headlight level adjuster.

If you’re already set on power and handling, or maybe you just want to tweak the look of your vehicle, CorkSport style mods are the next thing on the list — because you want to look at a car you’re happy to drive. From interior improvements to external upgrades, adding a little style and luxury is a nice way to treat yo’self. Here are a few ways to get started.

  1. Mazda Headlight Level Adjuster: A good call (especially if you’ve added our lowering springs) is making sure your headlights are illuminating the road properly. It’s safe, it’s functional, and it gives you the ability to make quick strut and shock adjustments.
  2. Leather Shift Knob for 2014+ Mazda3/6 and Cx5: Let people know you’re part of the CorkSport family and pick up this smooth-as-butter black leather shift knob.
  3. Fog Light Kit: Powerful LEDs that look good while brightening your way, uniting function and style in one mod.

These mods should get you started, but the CorkSport fam knows that there’s always more you can add. Check out the rest of our Mazda 6 parts and, if you plan to mod on the regular, make sure to check out 7th Gear, our new exclusive membership club.

If you’ve got questions as you’re modding your 2017 Mazda 6, give us a call. And follow the CorkSport blog for regular news, modification advice, Mazda tips, Mazda lifestyle talk, and much more!

CorkSport’s Guide to the Mazda 3

CorkSport's Mazda 3 guide.
Ready to mod your Mazda 3? You will be after you read this!

New to modding your Mazda 3? No worries! CorkSport has you covered. Check out this guide to the parts that can turn your Mazda 3 into something special — and something more fun. I’ll be covering the main Mazda 3 performance checkpoints: power, handling, and styling. Feel free to hit me up if you have any questions along the way!

Let’s get started …

Power mods

One of the first questions I always hear when Mazda 3 owners call me on the phone is, “What can I do to get some more horses out of this?” As many of us know, the SkyActiv engine that comes in these Mazda 3s wasn’t exactly designed with big power in mind. It was built for fuel economy and efficiency. Even so, Mazda 3s are still very enjoyable to drive, and with some bolt-ons and a tune you can definitely squeeze out some more ponies.

Short ram intake

One of the most restrictive parts of these cars’ induction systems is the factory air box and paper filter. We offer a much more free-flowing solution. It looks a little something like this!

CorkSport's short ram intake.
Our short ram intake is a great power mod.

Utilizing a machined billet aluminum MAF housing and a Dryflow filter, we saw gains up to 6 HP on the 2.5 L models and 2.0 L models on an untuned ECU. On top of achieving these gains, the intake also provides amazing induction sounds — this probably won’t help you lighten your lead foot, though!

Exhausts

If you’re considering any brand for an exhaust, be sure you keep us in mind. We spent a lot of time creating the perfect exhaust for these cars, including the sedan model and the hatch.

CorkSport's exhaust system.
Axle back? Full catback? We have exhaust options at CorkSport.

Constructed of 65 mm piping and made from T304 stainless, this will provide long lasting durability and performance! We can sell you just the axle back if you are going more for sound or you can pick up our full catback if you want to get as much flow out as possible. (Please note: The catback does delete the second unmonitored cat, so it can be illegal based on your local emissions laws.) We saw 5 Whp out of the 2.0 L and 10 Whp out of the 2.5 L with our catback on an untuned ECU!

Handling mods

One of the things that Mazda really hit out of the park with the Mazda 3s is the suspension and handling department. For a FWD econobox, these things carry their momentum through turns really well. We offer some mods that cater specifically to this aspect of the car!

Suspension

Dropping the car a bit on some adjustable damping shocks and struts with some lowering springs is a great place to start. Lowering the center of gravity while upping the spring rates will help improve your handling responsiveness. Slap a rear sway bar on there as the cherry on top and help the car rotate around corners while reducing the infamous understeer problems that FWD cars are often cursed with!

Our shocks and struts are 15 way adjustable, with 70 percent higher rebound damping. They allow you to run stiffer springs without needing to worry about the life of the strut being deteriorated.

The springs drop the car a tasteful 1.75” in the front and 2.00” in the rear.

CorkSport suspension springs.
Drop that Mazda 3 with our springs.

The rear sway bar comes paired with some very nice billet aluminum brackets with Zerk fittings for servicing. The bar is a solid piece so you’ll never have to worry about breaking it. It’s also two-way adjustable, allowing for stiffer or softer settings depending on how you like to drive and what you’re driving.

CorkSport's rear sway bar.
Our CorkSport rear sway bar is a must.

Brakes

Not only do these suckers stop, they’re also lighter, removing 7 pounds of unsprung weight. Stainless lines are also included to help improve pedal feel.

CorkSport's Mazda 3 big brake.
Here’s the breakdown on our brakes.

The brakes are 4 pot calipers made from 6061-T6 aluminum, which comes anodized for a long lasting finish. The rotors are 28mm larger than factory.

Styling mods

Although these cars already look great, we offer a few tasteful touches that you can add to your car to really help tie the whole package together.

Exterior

Every car enthusiast hates a front license plate, but we also hate getting pulled over for not having one. A good compromise is choosing not to drill into your bumper, offsetting it poorly and blocking your car’s sexy curves. Our license plate kit utilizes your factory tow hook so it’s easily removable if need be!

CorkSport's style mods.
A much more stylish way to showcase your plates.

Also, check out our fog light kit to replace those yellow factory ones. They consist of a very crisp 6000K LEDs that will definitely add to the front end and provide that high line look you want.

Interior

The average American spends approximately 17,600 minutes in the car every year. That’s a lot of time to spend holding onto your shifter and steering wheel. So, treat yourself to an upgrade! Our leather steering wheel features a much thicker ring, flat bottom, and aggressive thumb grooves, all while maintaining OEM fitment, stereo controls, and an airbag. As most people come to find, it’s your favorite mod — you just don’t know it yet.

CorkSport's Mazda 3 steering wheel.
Look at this beauty of a steering wheel!

Our leather shift knob (for those of you with manuals) is an incredibly nice touch that ties in with the steering wheel perfectly. At 325 grams, it’s heavier than stock to help you smoothly change gears. The leather is also much nicer to the touch.

CorkSport's leather shift knob.
Shift into high gear in style.

Also, If your car didn’t come from the factory with LED lights, then you don’t need to miss out! We sell a full kit for the interior that features all the lights you need for the inside as well as the license plate. You’d be amazed at how much better the inside feels with that extra touch of ambience.

CorkSport's LED light kit.
See the light with our LED light kit.

I hope that this helps you figure out some awesome things to start doing to your 2014+ Mazda 3. We have plenty more that I didn’t even get to talk about, so check us out at www.Corksport.com!

And if you have questions, just give us a call at 360-260-2675.

Cheers,
Brett @ CS

Dear Car Guy: Our Beginnings and Our Why

CorkSport HQ featuring the old CorkSport logo.
That old CorkSport logo is a blast from the past!

Dear Car Guy,

It’s been a bit. I hope you’re well and having a great time getting your baby ready for the summer weather!

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about why CorkSport sticks with the Mazda market. Some of these are more like comments, but really it seems like a continuous surprise to some that we find ourselves still innovating and providing for this market that we work in daily. The answer to this question was simpler than I expected to be once I gave it a good thinking over.

Mazda is in our blood. It’s who we are.

Where it all began

From the beginning, the founders of CorkSport were Mazda guys. They worked on their own cars with big dreams of racing and of building the biggest, baddest, most amazing Mazda parts around!

Yes, you’re welcome to giggle. I know I did when I went through some of these pics of our history.

When you’re a company in the early going, you take pride in some of the simplest things — like our first time in the Yellow Pages or CorkSport’s first blog. Or in something like our new website back in 2009. Or even when we finally got a banner in our window with the new logo.

CorkSport Yellow Pages ad.
CorkSport’s Yellow Pages premiere.

You should check out this blog about how we came up with our name and logo designs for some excellent throwback CorkSport information.

We love the Mazda community

CorkSport tent with old CorkSport logo.
We always love getting out and meeting more members of the Mazda community.

We’ve continuously stuck with the Mazda community due to their passion, support, and — of course — the NATOR Club! We’ve written about this in the past, and you can find a ton of blogs that reference this club, but here are a few of my favorites to check out if you’re interested.

Mazda community members working together.
What unites this group? The Mazda platform we all love.
  1. While we love you, Car Guys, we love our lady drivers, too. Find out what it means to be a Car Girl.

    A 2014 Nator event for the Mazda community.
    The community that plays together stays together.
  2. See what that NATOR life is all about with this recap of a great event a few years back in 2014.

We love our customers, we love our community, we love Mazdas. So why do we do what we do? What’s our reason why? It all comes down to you, Car Guy!

CorkSport’s reason why

We stay in the Mazda market, we continue to innovate, and we push ourselves — sometimes to the breaking point (yes, sometimes breaking cars, hearts, minds, and wills in our offices!) — in order to supply this amazing platform with great parts, awesome community, and realized dreams!

CorkSport's Mazda family.
Community is key. You’re our family. You’re our reason why.

It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s our reason why: It’s all for you.

I almost wish it were more complicated than that.

Thanks for the support, Car Guy! Until next time …

Stay safe, stay fast, and stay happy, my friends!

-Kim

Long Lost Love for MS6 Owners

Due to the number of requests we have had, and the fact that we love our Mazdaspeed 6 peeps, we have decided to bring the aluminum skid plate back!

Good day, CorkSport family! This is Luke here at CorkSport HQ in Vancouver, Washington.

I’ve got some very exciting news that I know my Mazdaspeed 6 guys will be very happy about. As most of you know, CorkSport listens to our customers and, after listening, we deliver. Ever since we removed the aluminum skid plate from our product list, we’ve received many requests for it. Due to the number of requests, and because we love our Mazdaspeed 6 peeps, we decided to bring the aluminum skid plate back! That’s right, we’re bringing it back to the site! Here’s a quick reminder of the benefits that the Mazdaspeed 6 aluminum skid plate gives your ride:

  •   Replace OEM plastic skid plate with sturdier aluminum
  •   Better protection during the winter months
  •   Keeps the engine bay cleaner
  •   More robust protection for people in lowered rides
  •   Easy access to changing oil
  •   Direct bolt on

Starting July 18, CorkSport will have the components back on the shelf and we’ll be ready to start shipping these out. These new Mazdaspeed 6 aluminum skid plates will be limited quantity — only 20 skid plates — so be sure to get one before we have to have more made.

Starting July 18th CorkSport will have the components back on the shelf, and we will be ready to start shipping these out.

If you would like to pre-order, please call us at 360-260-2675.  Let’s get this party started folks!

Due to the number of requests we have had, and the fact that we love our Mazdaspeed 6 peeps, we have decided to bring the aluminum skid plate back!

Cheers,

Luke McCarvel