So You Want to Go Racing in a Family Sedan?

CorkSport Mazda in NASA 25 Hours of ThunderhillNot too often do you get a chance to cage up your family sedan and “run what you brung,” but that’s exactly what Mazda and Robert Davis Racing (RDR) did in the 2013 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Mazda took three brand new Mazda 6 Skyactiv diesel sedans out to the track and ran them. There were a few on-track incidents in the 2013 race but nothing too serious. Mazda was lining up to run the cars again in 2014, and several things fell into place that allowed CorkSport to provide some additional power improvements to the cars. We outfitted them with a downpipe and exhaust made from 80mm stainless steel, a high flow intake system, an upgraded intercooler and piping, and some ECU tuning. This gave the cars more power to stand a shot at the podium in E1 with better fuel economy than the other class cars and more power than the previous year.

CorkSport at NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill

Inside the group of three Mazda Sedans was a rivalry of the Mazdaspeed Guys (comprised of Mazdaspeed Motorsports employees) and the Dealers CEB (Crayon Eating Bastards), a group of Mazda dealership owners/employees. The dealers controlled cars #55 and #56, and the Factory Guys (Mazda Employees) had #70, all fighting it out for bragging rights. Before the race got going #70 hit a snag where a coolant line came loose and overheated a motor, which prompted a Thursday motor change.

By Friday the cars were all in good shape for qualifying. This went down trouble-free despite a giant rainstorm, as if it wasn’t hard enough trying to run a fast lap with 58 other cars out on the track in six classes— all of which had different speeds.

CorkSport Mazda parts qualifying

Thankfully, by Saturday morning the weather had cleared up, and the forecast predicted dry racing for the full 25 hours. This prompted us to get the three cars ready to run on slicks which were mounted up on the wheels and installed on the cars.

CorkSport Mazda parts ready for racing

Right at 11 am the flag dropped and started the longest race in North America. This was, needless to say, an adventure for the whole team. Several hours into the race, the driver of #70 reported that the car would not shift into all of the gears. It turns out the extra power was a little harder on the drive train in the higher gears, which removed the 5th gear from being functional. The driver decided to stay out and run the race in 6th gear until the fuel stop came up. That turned out to be hours later courtesy of the excellent fuel economy of the Skyactiv engine. The pit area was prepped for a transmission swap with a spare gearbox the team had brought with them. Unfortunately, this took the car out of any chance of being on the podium, but with endurance racing you never know what will happen! So the transmission change went ahead as planned.

At the first extended yellow flag session #55 and #56 reported a power loss in the cars. This resulted in a massive jam session to diagnose and fix what was going on with the cars. Since these specific cars live their lives on the track they did not get a chance to be tested with the new modifications at low speeds (AKA street driving speeds) which brought up an exciting challenge with the fire control systems in the cars. It took ~about 2 hours to sort out the problem, and we had the #55 and #56 back at full speed heading into the night.

Mazda Sedans drive into the night

The #70 was getting its final work completed with the transmission change and ready to head out onto the track again well behind the Mazda dealers in the #55 and #56 cars. Late into the night, after a driver change, we got a call in on the radio #55 had an on-track incident with another car in the E2 class, and sadly both cars had to retire from the race. This E2 class car happened to be leading the class which RDR was also fielding “Kermit,” the green RX8, in. Though the incident was unfortunate, as a result Kermit moved to the leader position of the E2 class.

Several hours later we got a call in from #56 of an off-track situation which required the car to retire from the race too. This put the #70 Mazda 6 in position to finish ahead of the #55 and #56 for total laps if its drivers could finish the race trouble-free. As the sun came up, the #70 car was running without a hitch, as was Kermit.

Mazda RX8 racing at sunrise

From sunrise until noon, the race for the two remaining cars was uneventful. At the noon finale of the race Kermit secured the win in E2 for the first time! Like in any race, there were things you learn and adjustments for the next time on the track. I want to give a huge thanks to RDR, Mazda, Mazdaspeed, the volunteer crew peeps , and Weldon for the guidance on my first time being a crew chief for an endurance race. Lastly, a big thanks to Ruandy from Pacific Northwest Life for the great camera shots—and to my family for letting me miss an entire weekend at another race.

-Derrick

Interested in any of the diesel performance parts we developed? Shoot an email to sales@corksport.com for more information.

How to Start Your Own (Mazda Performance Parts) Business

CSstorefront-2004
This was our old location back in 2004.

Greetings from CorkSport!

Thank you for a wonderful 2014. It was our best year ever!

The time of the year when people set resolutions is upon us. Perhaps you’ve been thinking of starting your own business. I’m here to help!

Readers have told us they’d like to know more about the nuts-and-bolts of running CorkSport.

As many of our regular readers may already know, Derrick and I started CS with what basically amounts to pocket change. It’s grown over the past almost 17 years into a business that occupies the better part of a city block and has over a dozen employees. If I had it to do all over again, we could get here in 5 years, maybe less.

Where did the other 12 years go?

Experience. If I knew then what I know now, I might have not even tried. It can be a daunting task!

The aftermarket industry has a pretty low barrier to entry. There will always be more competition; there will always be new competition. As a consumer, this usually means win.

So where do I even begin with this?

Let’s start with the market.

Let’s face it, Mazda is a niche manufacturer. That may be what attracted you to the brand in the first place! Roughly 1 out of every 50 cars sold in the USA is a Mazda. Further, consumers basically modify only performance versions. For Mazda, this means Mx5 Miata, Rx8 (discontinued), Mazdaspeed 6 (discontinued), and Mazdaspeed 3 (discontinued). Of the people that buy those cars, only a fraction will modify them. Let’s call them enthusiasts. There are certainly less than 100,000 of them in the entire USA!

This is not to say that there are not people that modify a 2.0L Mazda3 or a Cx5. They don’t spend as much and there are not as many of them so the market is very small. The Mazda enthusiast market is far larger than the other 90%+ of Mazda owners.

The aftermarket for a single model from another manufacturer can be larger than the entire Mazda aftermarket, take the Ford Mustang as an example.

Why even bother?

This business was started with a passion for (only) Mazda cars, and still burns bright with that same passion today, 17 years later. We’ve chosen the hard road and our passion keeps us on course.

My advice to someone considering the aftermarket that wants to have a substantial business one day: start in a larger market!

Once you do that, success is far from guaranteed. We’ll save that discussion for another day.

Here’s to 2015 being your best year ever!

 

Richard Harris-01

Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Corksport Version

ChristmasDragRace

 

Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Corksport Version

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that some new parts soon would be there.

The Car guy was comfy and snug in his bed,
While visions of racetracks looped in his head.
The Mazda in park, the keys tucked away,
Just one more night of sleep,
then we’ll all race away.

When out of the blue, a thought came to mind,
why on earth is he waiting?

Let’s go for a drive!
He grabbed up the keys, woke the girl with a shout
Hey baby, it’s Christmas and we’re headed out!
The family forgotten and plans set aside
We’re headed to the track, let’s go for a drive.

It was simple and planned, so quickly it seemed,
in her sleepy state
it seemed just a dream.
Okay mister, whatever you say.
She slipped on her slippers and they were on their way.

Car guy beamed from head to toe,
he knew their destination
just one place to go.
The track wasn’t far, and the traffic was light, This will be the best Present
Such a simple delight!

No family, no mess, no ties and no dress,
Just you and me girl, this 1 time request.

They got to the track in no time at all,
Sparkling white on the ground just a light snow fall
When over to his right something caught his eye
“We’re not alone” thought the Car guy
Of course to his wondering eyes there appeared
An old style sleigh being pulled by reindeer?
He tossed it in gear to confirm his delight
He shook his head, disbelief at the sight

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
He knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than mustangs as drivers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!

Don’t over do it boys! Steer clear of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

They were so quick, so fast, as if they could fly,
Car guy thought to himself, perhaps we should try.
Revving the engine he pulled right on through
To the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

The smile and twinkle in that old mans eye
Made car guy grin and look to the sky.
No flying, not crashing, we’ll take on the course
The old man smiled, do you know of this force?

A simple nod of his head is all it took
He looked over the sleigh and each tiny hoof.
Carguy turned and looked over his opponent,
Just giving in to this memorable moment.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had sorted in the back,
he looked like a veteran, he could drive ’round this track.

His eyes ­how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

You know what to do Car guy said to his girl,
She hopped right out and gave her scarf a twirl.
On three boys, please be safe and be clean
She raised it in the air, how fitting it’s green.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Old Saint Nick might be something to dread.
His whip in hand, he gave it a crack,
And off they went, leaving behind the toy sack.

The wind blowing through that snowy white beard,
Carguy could hear the sound of the cold in his ears.
Jingling as they went, the sleigh in tow,
The reindeer were fast, damn car is feeling slow.
Curses thought Carguy as he slammed on the gas,
I want to beat him, we need to be fast.

He awoke with a start, to the sound of her voice,

Knock it off Carguy or I’ll give you a choice.
To the couch with you if you can’t control,
Your twitching and turning and stupid body roll.
He laughed to himself, of course just a dream,
But what’s in his hand, a scarf of green?

He went to the window and looked into the night
He heard the jingle and saw a plain sight
There he was right there in the drive,
St Nick and his sleigh, of course he’s alive.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yell,
Get on it boys, we won, all is well.
Carguy shook his head and laughed at it all,
He would swear that he saw,

St Nick and his reindeer give him the “paw”
Carguy learned something that‘s true,
Don’t race Santa and his eight reindeer crew.
He looked into the sky, to see them in flight
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good­night!”

Kim Russell-01

Love for the Rotary

With all of the talk of doom and gloom for the next rotary I wanted to share the experience I had with the help of Mazda during Sevenstock 17 on Nov 22nd.  I hate to say it but while I was at Sevenstock helping out with the Diesel Mazda 6 I experienced the awesome side benefit of being next to three 4 rotor cars in the same garage.

The recent message given from Mazda about the rotary engine being important but not in the cards for a current car has been a heart breaker for the rotor heads out there, myself included as I daily drive an 87 Turbo FC.  I can definitely say that from the top down the rotary engine is important to Mazda despite it not being considered for a new car right now. Take a look at this 787 which Robert Davis (senior vice president U.S. operations aka he runs the show in US) personally drives.

Mazda-787-4-rotor

There is a genuine love for the rotary with him, I watched him wipe down the car after going out onto the track for one session. In conversations, the restoration of other rotary race cars was brought up many times and when Robert isn’t driving the 787 above he rolls in an Rx8 in NASA PT racing, when time affords it.

See the first car in the line below?  It is one of the Rx-792P IMSA GTP prototypes.

full-rotary-line-up

I watched Weldon Munsey (Manager of Dealer Affairs) hop out  after just one session with a big smile on his face.  You could tell he just loves driving that car.

This next car is one of my favorite Rotary race cars (as I had the opportunity to see it raced at Portland Intl Raceway in the early 90s).  The 4 rotor GTO kept the basic shape of the FC rx7 (which included the stock roof panel, windshield, and tail lights) and the rest of the car was pure business with a 4 rotor engine.

Rx7-GTO-4-rotor

Not a big surprise another Mazda executive drives it, Jeremy Barnes (Director of public relations).  I am sure the re-occurring theme is not lost here, these guys love rotaries and if the opportunity presents they will be pulling to get another car released for all us rotards out there.  In the meantime enjoy the video below from Sevenstock 17 with a few drive byes of the 787 and the 792p wide open on the throttle at Autoclub Speedway.

Zoom zoom.

– Derrick Ambrose 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!

The End of the Mazda Rotary RX

tombstone

R.I.P Mazda RX Rotary

We received some sad news a few days ago about the much loved Rotary RX-7, RX-8 and other RX series. The official word according to the Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai is that “we don’t have that kind of vehicle in our future product plan.”  when asked about a future RX. 

Honestly I’d love to pontificate about this more, but there isn’t much to say. It sounds like the final word from the current CEO. When pushed further he gave some reasoning that honestly makes perfect sense, “If you increase the number of segments, then the resources we can allocate to each will decline and that will prevent us from developing truly good products.” Also stated was the fact that “It’s difficult for us at present to further expand our lineup. The company is still in the process of improving its financial structure. We want to focus our limited resources on the Skyactiv products that we have today” 

Though this probably makes the most sense from a stability standpoint, it certainly doesn’t make us excited or want to say “Zoom-Zoom”. What happened to the Mazda passion? All that racing knowledge and development? Did they just give up on pushing the bar? Honestly, I don’t think so, I just think they are changing focus. The Rotary is off the board in the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean their current lineup won’t see some improvements…. after all, what about that Mazdaspeed 3 and MX-5?

Nonetheless, let us all take a moment of silence and mourn the passing of the RX series, for now.

 

Cheers

Spencer@CorkSport

Spencer CarsonWritten by Spencer Carson. Spencer is a car enthusiast and Mazda fan at heart. Whether enjoying the power of a modified Mazdaspeed 3, or driving top down in his 1992 MX5, he always enjoys getting behind the wheel. As much as Spencer loves driving, he loves helping out other Mazda owners even more. Whether helping at a local install day or heading to a car meet across the country, he loves chatting about Mazda and giving advice on how to get more Zoom-Zoom out of any car.