Red Baron Speed of Newberg

My Name is Symon Powlison and this is my journey of how I got my Mazdaspeed3 and the Mazda community that became my family. 

Let’s head back in time a bit, I was a broke high school student and I had just bought a 1997 dodge avenger, while my friends had all dabbled with modifying their cars at the time, I had not, but I knew I wanted to. The avenger came with an exhaust that sounded ok and some wheels and that’s about it.

When I showed my new car to my best friend Barett (yes Corksport Barett) and talked about build aspirations that never happened, we decided that we both wanted new stereo and subs, 2007-2008 was the time for loud music and lots of bass lol, “Darude Sandstorm” anyone? 

I had a lot of fun with that car but long story short the car was towed away late in the night for having a flat tire in a parking lot. Now with little to no money and my little avenger was never to be seen again. All is not lost though because those early years with that car started me on a slow trek of building my own “Racecar” later in life it was the catalyst that started it all. 

Fast forward to the year 2012, I’m a bit more established now and I’m getting ready to deploy at the first of the year for 10 months, when my Co-Worker decides to buy a BMW 335i, I made the brash decision to follow suit and I purchased a 2004 Audi S4, my wife was needing a new car anyway so I gave her the Kia Optima I had purchased a few months back. 

Everybody was happy because I got my car and my wife got a brand new Kia! My Audi came with Tien lower springs, a nice fender roll job, and a Magna-flow exhaust. The roar of the V8 through the exhaust was great, it had quick get up and go and it looked amazing in the brilliant red paint. This was my first experience with a “quick” car and I was hooked, but with Audi’s, I had no idea how to even begin to work on it if it had problems, and neither did anybody close to me. This is when I knew this wouldn’t last but I thoroughly enjoyed it when I had it. 

Symon Powlison

During deployment, I would leave my Audi in the hands of Barett, and return to resume driving bliss with the car, until I left again except this time it would be for nearly 3 years. My wife and I left for Korea in the middle of 2014. My car was out of my possession longer than in my possession and thus while my time away I grew apart from my Audi and wanted something new, different, I wanted a hatchback. 

I always liked the way hatches look, the bodylines, the mildly flared fenders, the base stance of the hatchback drew me in. I spent countless hours looking at every model of hot hatches, tirelessly and sometimes redundantly, maybe I could afford this or maybe I should buy. I decided to call Barett from Korea and told him I was coming home and I wanted to sell the Audi and get something I truly desired. 

He mentioned getting a Mazdaspeed3, I had seen some videos about them but I was rather set on an all-wheel-drive hatch to drive in the snow, but that was dumb because I hate driving in the snow lol. I decided to give the Speed a deep dive look and man I was impressed, not to mention I had an endless resource if I needed any help. 

I was sold, the price was right, the whole car package was right, it checked all my boxes, I wanted a turbo 4cyl with good base stats, something reliable to a degree, and something that I could learn to modify and have help if anything breaks. 

I arrived home in the spring of 2017, and scoured the interwebz and found the speed of my dreams, a velocity red 2013 tech package mazdaspeed3 with 69k on the dash. With what money I had left in savings, a small income, and an Audi for a deposit. I marched down to the dealership and literally, 6 hours later I walked out of there with my dream car. 

Shop all 2010-2013 Mazdaspeed3 Parts

Funny side note here, when I took the MS3 for a test drive I was by myself, I never drove a 6-speed manual car before and didn’t know how to put the car in reverse, so here I am sitting in somebody’s driveway (huge facepalm) trying to figure out how to put the car in reverse when the homeowner comes out and asks if I need help. I tell him the story he laughs and gives me a push to send me on my way back to the dealer. 

That test drive officially sold me on the car, I can still remember the first time starting that car and the first time I hit 15psi of boost, it was amazing and probably the coolest feeling ever while driving. I couldn’t wait to show my wife, I ripped the speed all the way home, and it was nothing but smiles per gallon. I couldn’t have been happier. I am honored to have such a loving wife who was just as excited for me to have a car I desired so much. This was my very first and only turbo car I’ve ever owned and every time the car plants my back to the seat I can help but grin from ear to ear. 

I kept the car stock for a year on the dot before I started modifying it, if you’re keeping track it’s now April 2018. I purchased all the necessary supporting mods to keep it from going ZZB. I bought an Access port, HPFP Internals, intake, and pro tune and man did that little K04 come alive, a few other supporting mods like exhaust and rear sway bar brought the Mazdaspeed to a different level. 

Shop all 2010-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 Categories

The Speed had no changes for another year or less (early spring 2019), finally, it was time for power mods, big turbo, big FMIC, lots of little bits like injector seals, short shifter, motor mounts, and getting a tune from Purple Drank. The car became a monster, smiles turned to white knuckles gripping the wheel from torque steer, turbo noises for days, and a singing bypass valve that subtly lets you know it’s there on any occasion. 

That kept me satisfied for another year till now, this plan is to do both manifolds, cams, and EWG. *Hurray for race car noises*. The transformation of my Speed over the last 3 years has been a rewarding experience, providing me with knowledge and experience and confidence to be able to tackle any problems or situations previously I would have avoided or paid an overpriced shop to fix.

This is the best part of the community I joined when I bought my speed, all the experiences and knowledge that has been shared with me have been nothing short of amazing and I’m truly grateful for the speed community. My wife and I don’t take a lot of vacations, but the two events that come up in the year that you can’t miss are Mazda events. 

Shop Gen 1 and Gen 2 Mazdaspeed 3

I didn’t know that I could miss Idaho as much as I would when I have to leave Papa Keith’s Mazda Takeover event in Boise after a 4-day party. The big bear puts on an amazing event yearly and when it wraps up the withdrawals of it kick in. Those pains are subsided though just two months later when we all get to catch up for CorkSport’s Dyno Day’s! The event that the CorkSport crew puts together is a blast, its high tempo 2-day event that brings our Mazda community together in the Pacific Northwest, I have seen people from British Columbia to Utah come all the way to Vancouver, WA for this event. 

These two trips are something that flows into my DNA and I can’t imagine my life without experiencing them or the people I’ve met along the way. My wife and I look forward to these weekends as I’m sure anyone who has gone to them at least once will, we love spending time with our extended Mazda family and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

In closing, to say that a car would change my life would be an understatement, but it did and I wouldn’t want it any other way, so if you see the Red Baron Speed of Newberg out and about, come up and say hi and chat for a minute. I hope to see you all at future events, keep hitting that Boost, and stay safe. See you all on the road.

  • Symon

Mazdaslow to Mazdaspeed

Let me take you to an extraordinarily dull time in my life, the last time I started my car when it was still stock.

September 14th, 2018 was a beautiful September day in Washington. I started my car at 6:45 am, just like every other weekday. The car burbled to life, but it was relatively quiet, flat, and a bit uninteresting. No one knew I was leaving for work – I wasn’t shaking any windows, but that was going to change.

At CorkSport

Once I arrived at work and spread some Friday cheer, I settled in. Almost immediately, I could feel the pile of parts in the corner behind my desk, glaring at the back of my head. I thought to myself, “Don’t turn around – focus damn it!” The day had finally come – install day. Thankfully with our awesome half-day Fridays, I was out of the office and on my way to Brett’s house before 12:30 pm. 

After we loaded up Brett’s Rodeo with a load of parts, we set sail to our destination, a place where many tears have been shed, knuckles have been busted, and where dreams have come true; Brett’s garage. Every tool you’ve ever needed and gadgets you didn’t know existed. There were even a few specialty items present, that if he didn’t have quite frankly, this couldn’t have happened.

Shop all Mazdaspeed 3 Parts

We started with thorough degreasing of the engine bay and setting up the essential supplies- because what is an install day without beer and snacks! Once the car has cooled down, I started with taking out the battery box, intake, and intercooler; and then the fun really started. I’ve read the horror stories, I’ve watched the videos, and I thought I spent enough time mentally preparing myself for what was about to come – I was wrong.

The Downpipe

We all know about the Mazdaspeed downpipe on our cars. The devil engineered the placement of this thing, and he had his minions tighten the bolts. There isn’t enough PB blaster in the world to help the corrosion and excessive heat that these bolts withstand. We got the first one out with little to no issue, but it just got progressively harder from there. It was only a matter of time before rounding off the edges of that last bolt. Thankfully Brett has an extractor tool that we hammered on there, and with the small act of god, it was successfully extracted.

My experience with removing the downpipe from the exhaust, as is everyone’s experience, was different. Mine was influenced by the previous owner adding a 2.5″ resonated exhaust on it from the second cat back. The downpipe didn’t want to come out until I wiggled a pry bar in between the flange and put Brett’s Caliper spreader in there (again tools I didn’t even know I needed) and applied sheer grunt force. I got the flange to bend, and after learning a few new choice words, we got it out. By this time, it was 11:30 pm, and we still had a few other things to unbolt before the exhaust came out. Instead of using power tools and waking every neighbor up in a two-block radius, we called it a night.

The Morning After

After some much-needed coffee, we made it back from the hardware store (replaced the downpipe nut from hell) it’s time to party. We started with sliding in my new downpipe with the High flow Cat what a breeze compared to taking it out. Next came my intake, I went with the 3.5″ so I don’t have to buy another one when I finally go with our CorkSport CST4 turbo. Still might go with the new CST5. Then I put in my ECU Relocation Box, and I have to say, what a clean looking piece to have in your engine bay! 

Mazdaspeed 3 TMIC Top Mount Intercooler

We changed out the OEM spark plugs for some NGK 6510 gapped to .026 and started to put on my new TMIC that is rated up to 450WHP after we got the TMIC it was time to put on my shiny new boost tubes Engine bay= Complete.

Now time to get underneath and put on my highly anticipated Non-Resonated Cat-Back exhaust and my Stage II RMM. Goodbye, torque steer! Once we had the exhaust mostly in place, I realized if I didn’t have the CS exhaust hangers I would have been in trouble. The person before me had his exhaust welded quite poorly in place of the hangers, and I didn’t have an option to use my OEM ones. 

Moment of Truth

After everything was double-checked and rechecked, it was time for the moment of truth. I hooked up my battery, I flashed my new tune from Erik Bjork at Drama Tune, and now it was Go Time! I will say hearing my car make those sweet sounds was one of the best moments of my life. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I purchased my car, and it was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had.

We let the car run for a few minutes and checked to make sure I didn’t have any leaks, and then we headed out for a test drive.

In the immortal words of George Takei “Oh My!”

That was my thought, EVEN on just a base map. My car felt and sounded 1000% different than before. The intake was amplifying fun new mechanical noises – like I was hearing my turbo and BOV dance for the first time. The crackle from the exhaust on a hard 2nd to 3rd upshift was intoxicating, all the while my RMM putting in work to make sure I don’t torque steer into someone’s front lawn. What an experience! I would even call this life-changing for me. The funny part of the story is that I wasn’t planning on buying all these items at once – true intentions of a foolish car enthusiast. Thankfully for me, I have a fantastic career within CorkSport and have a great friend that helped me make my dreams come true. Who wants a stock car when you work for the number one place in the world for Mazda Performance, not this guy.

Zach from CorkSport

Keep an eye out for my turbo blog, because it’s only a matter of time until the mod bug bites me again.

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold

Today is a huge day for the Speed community; one that has been coming for a long time with both celebration and frustration. Never the less time is up and this project is ready for the community as a whole!

We are proud to announce the Performance Exhaust Manifold for the Mazdaspeed 3 & 6! With over 2 years in development, the MPS exhaust manifold has been long waiting, but for good reason. A project of this scale does not happen overnight; many variables have to be considered, evaluated, and verified.  

I’m confident you have seen “leaked” images from our 6 Alpha and Beta testers over the recent month, but we can make it official.  

CorkSport

But with so many options currently available what makes the CorkSport option compelling? Why should you care?  

That’s a great question and one that can easily be answered with multiple great reasons. The most obvious is the design: this includes the overall shape and the type of material & manufacturing.  

Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

Material & Manufacturing: In our initial investigation and vetting of this project we strongly considered two primary manufacturing methods; Casting and Tubular fabrication (check out the blog here). In a nutshell, we opted for a cast manufacturing method because it reduced the chance of failure modes, reduced the overall size and weight, and gave us more flexibility in design.  

Like most exhaust manifolds, we opted to use 304 stainless steel because it is corrosion-resistant, handles heat well, and is a common and cost-effective material.  

Check out our other Blogs

Following up is Design: The list of details that went into the design is far too long to list here, but we can cover the major items that define the CS Exhaust Mani. With investment casting, we had a lot more flexibility in design with the bend radius, diameters, and wall thickness of the individual runners. This allowed us to increase the inner diameter of the runners to 1.59 inches, achieve a 0.200-inch wall thickness, and fine-tune the path and bends of each runner to optimize runner length and flow.  

Check out our other Blogs

With that flexibility in design, we were able to increase peak flow and improve flow balance per runner. Overall we were able to increase peak flow 45% over the OEM manifold and 33% over the XS Power V3.  

Next up in design, and arguably the most exciting and unique aspect, is the modular flange system.  

Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

This is unlike any other manifold available for the Mazdaspeed today…you can choose your flange between OEM Stock Flange, Precision V-Band, or T3. Sure all these options are available today from other options, but none are modular. Say you pull the trigger on the OE Stock Flange today, but a year from now you want to upgrade your build to a Precision V-band flange. With any other manifold, you would have to buy another $900+ manifold to get the new flange, but with the CorkSport Exhaust Manifold, you just have to get the new flange elbow for your setup. This is MUCH MUCH cheaper and easier to change!

CorkSport

Speaking of install, compared to the typical performance exhaust manifold the CS design is cake to install. With the modular design, you are not fighting the entire bulk for the manifold and flange at the same time. You can leave you turbocharger unmoved connected to the downpipe and intake system, you just install the flange elbow after the manifold is in and bolted to the engine.  

Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

Making life even easier…we opted to develop a pre-fabbed dump tube (screamer pipe) for the Tial 44mm EWG. This is an optional feature for the kit, but one we highly suggest because it’s just so damned easy. Designed for MPS 3 and MPS 6, it fits around most standard downpipes and dumps below the sub-frame right behind the drive axle. Also included with each kit is a SS heat shield that is required for the GEN1 and GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3. You Mazdaspeed 6 guys just get a cool garage ornament.  

So how does the CS exhaust manifold stack up on power? 

Check out our other Blogs

First up is a fully bolted CST4 MS3 with a 6th port fuel system: Comparing the CS EM to the OEM EM, this drop-in test we found that the turbo was spooling faster, carried more mid and upper range power and held that gain through to redline. Overall it improved power under that curve which is what truly makes a car fast and fun to drive.  

Check out our other Blogs

Next up is a fully bolted and built CST6 MS3 with 8th port fuel system: Just like the previous graph, we saw an improvement in spool, mid and upper rpm ranges, and carried it to redline. The difference here is the exhaust manifold we are comparing. This is showing the difference between the CS EM and the XS Power V3.  

With that being said, the CorkSport Exhaust Mani has been proven to 685whp on this same car and with the CST6. We are confident the CS exhaust manifold has far more capacity to support; if we have anything to do with that we will prove it. 

Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

Lastly is sound…we’ve been asked a lot about the sound. How will it affect the sound? Will it sound like a Honda now? Will it be louder?  

We knew the sound was critical because let’s be honest…we are all car guys/gals and Mazdaspeed has a great unique sound to it. We did not want to lose that so we did our best to hit performance goals without sacrificing the Mazdaspeed grumble.  

One of our Beta testers put together a great video comparing the sound of OEM vs CorkSport. The car is a GEN1 MS3 with a built engine, full bolt-ons, CST4, and Cobb Exhaust system. Check out this video link for sound!

In our design, we kept a varied length runner design to help maintain the Mazdaspeed grumble. We believe we succeeded in keeping that classic grumble, but also refined the sound a bit. We like to describe it as exotic. Either way, the grumble lives on, and honestly, none of our beta testers can stop grinning ear to ear with every WOT pull.  

With that being said act fast! We know these are going to fly off the shelf and we are going to do our damn very best to keep them in stock for everyone, but don’t wait!

Grab yours here!

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Mazda Performance.  

-Barett @ CS

Barett’s 1/2 Mile Mazdaspeed 3 Build – Part 1

Hey Everyone, if you don’t know me already I’m the engineering manager at CorkSport Performance & @Halfmilespeed3.  I want to make a formal greeting and invite you to follow along as I take the next huge step with my personal build.  I drive a 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 that has been through many iterations.  I bought it nearly 6 years ago and have since used it in excess to support CorkSport R&D.  Hundreds if not thousands of passes on the dyno with so many parts…it’s been a beaten test mule.  The time has come to set a focus.

2007-2009 Mazdaspeed 3 Crashbar

Now, with the 4th engine going in it, I’m setting the build focus for ½ Mile Drag Racing.  Power, Aero, and some “Mad Scientist” R&D is going into this build.  (see WTF is THAT)

Mad Scientist Add-ons
600hp Mazdaspeed Build Path – CorkSport Barett’s 2009 Mazdaspeed

My goals are 700whp on the CST6 stock flange (with Will @ PD Tuning giving it the sauce) and 180mph in the standing ½ mile.  I plan to play in the 1320, but half mile is the focus.  My first event was going to be Never Lift @ Coalinga Munical Airport in Late March, but with recent events, this was canceled and a new date has not been set.  Fingers crossed the country gets through this and the next events hosted by Shift S3ctor Airstrip Attack in June and November hold.

Back to the build…I know that pushing a Mazdaspeed through the air at 180mph is a lofty goal and that physics are against me.  With the help and advice of Aaron O’neal @ English Racing I am exploring high-speed aero design. 

Gen 1 Mazdaspeed Parts

The primary goal is stability at high speed.  I want to be safe in this type of racing so I need to do what I can to make the car stable and predictable at speed.  This means I need the car to cut through the air as smoothly as possible, and if possible, generate downforce. 

To do this I’ve made a prototype drag wing (which I will share more detail on in a later blog) per the advice of Aaron and my research.  This wing is two feet long at the top! And with the closed sides, this should reduce the amount of lift generated at the back of the car.

There is still a lot more work to do here but you get the idea so far.

Splitter Mount
CorkSport

Upfront I am still very much in the conceptual phase of design.  Nearly the whole front bumper will be sealed off with a single sheet of ABS plastic formed to the front of the car.  The only opening will be a rectangle about the size of the intercooler for cooling airflow.  I also plan to build a chassis mounted splitter.  The red parts in the image above are the one-off brackets I designed to mount the splitter to the chassis and still be able to adjust the height (Again I’ll share more detail in future blogs as the prototype comes together).

CorkSport

The other less intuitive aero bit I’m doing on the front of the Speed is hood venting.  Thanks to Jonathan Castro @ JC Speedworks for the hood vent I’m able to kill two birds with one stone here.  If you’ve done any type of racing you know heat is a killer and must be managed.  With this hood vent, I am both evacuating any high-pressure air build up in the engine bay and promoting more efficient airflow through the intercooler and radiator. 

With the 300 miles I’ve put on the car, I can already see a huge difference in normal operating temps.  Maybe more vents are in the works? 😉 Oh and shout out to @mz_rawr (Aaron Maves) for cutting holes in my hood.

CorkSport Mazdaspeed 3 Transmission Mount Blog

In the process of getting the engine and transmission together, I wanted to fix a 2nd gear drop out issue I had.  Over a weekend @thatonepnwguy (Bryce Peterson) and I split my transmission and replaced the shift forks.  We certainly did it the wrong way and had to chase some balls around and get them back into their respective locations; despite all that, don’t be afraid to tear into things and learn the hard way. 

How To Achieve 400 WHP In Your Mazdaspeed Blog

The powerplant made it in the car and is running great.  Right now I’ve got about 300 miles on the engine.  I’ve been working out some little details with heat management and setup of the Vacuum Pump (WTF is THAT).  I am just now starting to do logs and tuning with Will Dawson at Purple Drank Tuning.  With these goals, I still intend to keep the car street legal and driven on a nearly daily basis (I wish you could see the stares I get from people).  I’m putting this out to all of you as an invite to follow along with the build on Instagram @halfmilespeed3.  All the inside info and goodies are there for you to see along with @corksport for other stories and build updates.  I’m stoked for this season and to explore a racing series that has largely been untouched by the Mazdaspeed community.  I will be finding limits and new challenges for the platform that I hope to overcome.

MZR DISI Single Runner Intake Manifold Gasket

Mazdaspeed 3 Thermal Barrier Intake Manifold Gasket

The CorkSport Single Runner Intake Manifold Gasket is here! Designed for OEM and upgraded intake manifolds with or without ported cylinder heads on the DISI MZR in the Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, and Mazda CX-7 Turbo, the CS IM gasket is one of those things you don’t realize you need until it’s too late. The OEM gasket often fails to seal once reused and can cause a restriction when going to enlarged ports. This can be frustrating as who wants to take their car back apart after a manifold upgrade because of a stupid gasket? If this sounds familiar, read on as we introduce you to the CS single runner gasket!

Mazdaspeed 3 Thermal Barrier Intake Manifold Gasket

We collaborated with Cometic gaskets to design the intake manifold gasket; testing multiple materials to really determine what will hold up to the abuse of a Mazdaspeed. Cometic’s Aluminum Foamette Material (AFM) in 0.060” thickness was by far the best choice. It uses an aluminum core surrounded by a synthetic nitrile rubber coating. This material seals fantastically well, even if there are some minor surface imperfections or even O-ring grooves that are present with some aftermarket intake manifolds. This material is also resistant to motor oil and fuels, plus can be reused should you need to perform valve cleaning or have to take your intake manifold off for an install.

The Mazdaspeed 3 intake manifold gasket fits with stock and most aftermarket intake manifolds found on the Speed 3 Speed 6 and Cx7

Aside from offering better sealing than an OEM gasket, the CS IM gasket offers performance benefits. When going for more power, it is very common to upgrade the port sizes on the intake manifold and/or cylinder head. Doing this and reusing an OEM gasket can leave an edge of a gasket or even the center dividers of the OEM gasket in the way of airflow. The CorkSport IM gasket eliminates this problem by using enlarged ports that will suit the most aggressive of porting with no flow restriction. Plus, we went to a single runner opening to eliminate the divider present in the OEM gasket to further prevent flow restrictions. There is also the added safety benefit, as a piece of an OEM gasket hanging in the airflow path could break off and enter the engine which would never end well. This is truly a performance gasket, meant to give you room for whatever flow you want to put through it.

The Single runner MZR intake gasket goves the best flow without the divider obstruction in the intake runner

There is also a less obvious performance benefit than flow: thermal insulation. OEM gaskets are made out of metal, which means as your engine heats up, this heat can directly transfer easily into your intake manifold. This is also an issue with O-ring sealing as the intake manifold is directly touching the cylinder head. More heat in your intake manifold means it’s harder for your boosted air temps to stay cool when traveling through your intake manifold. While not a huge benefit, colder charge air will always help you make more power. Since the CorkSport Single Runner IM Gasket has the synthetic nitrile rubber coating, heat transfer into the intake manifold is more difficult, keeping your charge air just that little bit cooler!

The Speed6 gasket allows for plenty of space for porting if you are going to the maximum on your MZR DISI engine.

The CorkSport IM gasket comes with a spacer for the lower mount of the intake manifold made of the same AFM material. This is critical as the CS gasket is six times thicker than OEM so the lower mount no longer lines up properly. Failure to use a spacer like this can cause leaks at the cylinder head flange or worst case, warping or damage to your intake manifold or cylinder head.

Mazda MPS 3 and MPS 6 performance intake manifold gasket

The CorkSport Single Runner Intake Manifold Gasket is a great upgrade to optimize your manifold upgrade or simply ensure your next maintenance day goes smoothly. Let us know if you have any questions and visit the product listing if you’d like to pick one up!