Zach’s Road to CorkSport

The Journey to CorkSport

Ever wonder what it was like to win the lottery. You ever let your mind wander and think what it would be like to actually “Live the dream.” I know I have, well, until I joined CorkSport! My name is Zach Sprague, and I wanted to share with you my experience of joining, what I believe to be, the best well known and respected company in the Mazda Community. Let’s take a look at my journey.

I’ve always been into cars and have had a pretty big obsession with FWD Hatchbacks. My passion for this platform started back in 2014. I sold cars for Toyota in Southwest Washington for about four years. During my tenure, I drove some pretty amazing vehicles, one of them being a 2013 VRM MS3 Tech pack. I knew what a Mazdaspeed was, a Turbo FWD Hatchback, and at that time that was more than enough to pique my interest in the platform. It was temporarily sitting on my lot, and I had to drive it back down to Portland to our sister store.

Before jumping into the seat, I didn’t know any horsepower or torque figures. I didn’t know what kind of emotion it was going to spark when I drove it. I had NO idea that it would become the screen saver on my computer. I slid in and pushed the button. (You know those Cold Starts) This car’s exhaust made my heart drop and gave me goosebumps. I honestly felt like an 8-year-old on Christmas Morning. 

Once on the ramp, I slowly shift into third at about three and a half grand on the tach and just sent it. Torque steer was prevalent as I was gently pushed back into my seat. I slammed 4th, and I hear this intoxicating PSSHHHHHH. I was done, I was hooked, addicted and didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so intrigued I stopped at every rest stop on the way down so that I could feel this car accelerate back onto the freeway. <insert uncontrolled giggling here>.

Flash forward a couple of years, and a guy I worked with, now one of my best friends, went out and bought a VRM Speed6. Everything on that car from top to bottom was stock down to the wheels. I slowly watched his build progress over the year and transform into one of the most inspiring builds I have ever seen. In that time he was kind enough to let me pick his brain about these cars and what they like, what they don’t like.

In 2018 this is when things got interesting! After a few months of looking and 100 YouTube videos later, I was finally ready to pull the trigger on one of my bucket list cars. I snagged a 2013 MazdaSpeed3 in liquid Silver. I drove almost 4 hours and paid an arm and a leg for sales tax, but it was worth it.

Miles of Smiles 

I was grinning ear to ear the entire way home; 4th gear dumps on the freeway, testing the grip of the tires out at a few stoplights, full-on shenanigans. I tell you what; I made it home a lot quicker than the drive up.  

I had the car for 3 weeks before I added my first mod. I already had a vision for the car, but first things first, I had to take care of those sloppy shifts. My shifter bushings and short shift plate showed up from CorkSport. At that time I knew they made great parts and were one of the very few places that even made parts for this car. What a difference that made! It felt robust and more responsive.

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

I always joked with my friends about working for a company like CorkSport. I just thought it was this elusive dream that I’d be sitting behind a desk helping other people build their dream cars. I never thought in my life that an opportunity like this would come into fruition. 

My buddy, who helped me get into Mazdaspeeds, sent me a message on FB, letting me know that CS was hiring. I thought to myself; this is no lie. “There is no way on god’s green earth I’d ever get that lucky.” However, I applied. What’s the worst thing that could happen, right? 

CorkSport isn’t a revolving door, and the team is made up of a close-knit group of professionals that also happen to be car nuts. They carefully consider who’s going to be a good fit with their existing team and identify candidates that are going to get the right shit done well. I knew this was a different company, and their standards were high because they didn’t just accept my resume; there was a pre-test.  

A funny little story. I got a message from CorkSport saying they wanted to set up a phone interview! I couldn’t believe it! That Friday, I called to set up a meeting for Monday. This is where the humor known as my life kicked in; I BROKE MY PHONE ON SUNDAY! *RED ALERT* My dream job was calling me on Monday, and I didn’t have a phone, so I went out and bought a little prepaid flip phone. 

Although I almost missed this opportunity, it went well enough for CorkSport to schedule a second interview over Skype. I must add, this occurred over two weeks. I was losing my mind; I couldn’t believe it was happening. All my buddies knew I had the job, they knew how obsessed I am with cars, especially my speed 3. I still was in shock couldn’t believe I had my second interview.

When CorkSport called me to let me know, I had a final interview with the Company’s President, Corey – Hello nervousness, glad to see you again! I can’t put into words how excited I was; it was pure bliss and absolute disbelief. “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!” I screamed at the top of my lungs when I got off the phone. I showed up a half-hour early. It was cool; I got to meet someone I’ve stalked on Instagram for a while and who has been a significant influence on me since I got into the Mazda community – Brett White.

It’s so surreal when you get an interview for a job you’ve always wanted. Above all, I remember from the interview is telling Corey, “Even if I don’t get the job, knowing I made it this far and am sitting here with you having this interview is honestly a dream come true.” It’s unreal to think that one mistake, such as breaking my phone the day before my first interview, could have kept me from writing this blog for a company I’ve looked up to since I’ve been into Mazda’s.

I cannot believe I’ve been here a little over a year already! It’s a fun environment where everyone is looking out for one another. I’ve been able to FLY in the fastest thing I’ve ever been in (Barett’s monster Gen Juan), and had the chance to drive a car I’ve drooled over on social media (Brett’s Baby) for years. 

Barett’s monster Gen Juan

Looking back, it wasn’t even four days after joining the company before the guys a CS put lowering springs on my car. It took a little over a week for me to buy an AccessPort and a Dual VTA Bypass Valve, and that was just the start! You don’t want to be an employee driving a stock Speed with a CorkSport Sticker on it.

Stay tuned to see where CorkSport and I go with my car. I’ll catch you on the flipside and, thanks for reading my first blog!

Zäch Fröm CorkSport

Mazda Nostalgia – 323 GTX

Nostalgia

I recently got a good dose of nostalgia when I agreed to help my dad pick up his new (to him) car, a 323 GTX.  A longtime friend of mine had one sitting in his driveway looking pretty sad and I had mentioned it in passing to my dad that he was looking to sell it.  

Like most GTXs you find for under ~1k they need some love and this car was no exception and it needed to be towed home.

After spending an hour looking the car over once it was home I realized home much I still remembered about these cars.  Honestly, it has been 7 years since I looked at a GTX in person and the floodgates in my mind popped open with piles of information on what we needed to check out first in the car.  

As we continued to look over the car, answers to why things were not working just came right out. A good example is why does the cooling fan turn on when you crank over the engine? I didn’t even have to look, I knew there are several sensors which the car looks at to #1 turn the fan on and #2 what speed to run it at based on temperature, the A/C is turned on, etc.  Turns out the car didn’t have either of the two temp sensors plugged in or they are broken.

As we went over the car I was listing off items we need to check or replace to get this car back up and running as it should be a funny feeling came over me.  I really felt good to be working on one of these cars again. This time the money pit isn’t mine thankfully, but if I ever want to get that “good old days” feeling from my early twenties all I have to do is go over to my dad’s house and pick up a wrench as there is almost certainly something which will need to be fixed.

The fun part of this adventure is the answer to why did he buy it.  Like most 323 GTXs they are meant to be raced and this is no exception as it will be run in the Gambler 500.  Never heard of the Gambler 500 before? Well, it is like chump car or Lemons racing, you can prep a cheap car and go rally racing with it. Having a ~500 car survive the weekend of navigating GPS and not breaking down in the middle of nowhere is the challenge.

Some of you remember my old GTX which was sold to another local GTX aficionado sitting in the normal position of being broken and needing time and money thrown at it to get it back on the road again.  If you haven’t seen the car before here is a few pictures of it in it’s natural habitat which I have dug up.

If any of you decide to pick up a GTX, remember it doesn’t take much to get your 323 to do this and not leave the transmission in pieces….

-Derrick

5 Tracks every Mazda Owner Must Hit

5 Tracks every Mazda owner must hit in the US.

Living on the west coast, we are pretty fortunate to have access to quite a few cool road race tracks up and down the I5. There is a good handful right in our backyard of Washington State a few in Oregon State and even one that is a city track and is all of 4 miles away. Yes that one kind of spoils us as Derrick himself has worked, drove there during lunch in his racecar, qualified for a race, and then drove back all in a matter of 45 minutes. I don’t care who you are that’s just bad ass.

As we were building some engines the other night, we got to thinking about all the cool tracks that we got to visit last year in 2017 and how many other cool ones we want to check out in 2018.

So, we decided to throw up my list of the top 5 tracks that I think every Mazda owner should drive in their lifetime. These tracks are not presented in any particular order, and we’ve only actually been to half of them. No right or wrong answers here but what follows is our list of 5 tracks we think you guys should all hit up. So strap in and let’s go racing.

We’ll start with the obvious here, and that’s the one that has our favorite manufacture in the title. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This track resides in the landscape of central California and has been around since the late 50’s. Known best for its infamous Corkscrew section this 11 turn race track is world famous, and you can’t play any racing video game or simulator without this track being one of the featured races. We haven’t done this one yet, but you better believe it’s on our bucket list. Fun fact, or perhaps sad fact, depending on how you look at it; Mazda will not be renewing its sponsorship this year with the world-famous race track. So that means starting in April that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will simply be known as Laguna Seca.

Next up is Road America. This one is a big one. Spanning over 4 miles long this is one of the longest road race courses across the World. The long straight that crosses the start-finish lets you put the pedal to the medal. We’ve seen many of cars run out of gearing on this long straight. That coupled with the fact that you have to go uphill first to start will really but that full load on your engine, but man is it fun.

For my next pick, we chose Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Reason for that is we found it to be one of the most challenging circuits that we’ve ever driven on. And by challenging we mean it eats brakes. Granted we were always in a car that was not particularly suited for this track, but we did always find this to be a tough course. It was always challenging to lay down a clean lap, but we learned a lot from having driven on this one. We recommend this one to anyone that wants to get some good experience and refine their skill.

This next one has some really cool history and an even cooler track surface. Opening up just a few years after the end of World War Sebring International Raceway is actually built on a converted airport. The track used to be what was called Hendricks Field and was an airbase used to train B-17 combat crews. What’s even cooler is that part of this track still uses some of the original airport runways and makes for the craziest ride over the last corner.  Combining a mix of concrete and asphalt this track is sure to punish even the best of drivers.

Last but not least we decided to go with Circuit of the Americas mostly because of two reasons. One it brought back Formula 1 to the United States, and we think that is super important for the sport and will help grow its fan base in the USA. 2nd because the track is new, modern, and cutting edge. Having only opened in 2012 this track is still but a baby. But like most children with time and patience, this track will be one of the worlds greatest we feel like.   

There you have it. Our short and sweet lists of 5 tracks in the USA that we think are worth visiting. Maybe we will see you at one of them this year? Maybe we can trade a little paint too if you are up to it. Let us know what you think of this list in the comments below or share some of your favorites with us.

‘Til next time.

CorkSport

5 Classic Mazda Models To Dream About

If you’re new to reading our blogs, you may not know how we feel about Mazdas. (Spoiler alert: We like them. A lot.) As a companion piece to our post last year, 6 Hilariously Classic Mazda Models, we’ve got a fresh batch of Mazdas to delight and destroy your ideas of what a Mazda should and shouldn’t be.

Mazda MPV

Mazda MPV Minivan | CorkSport

Nothing screams OG like a minivan with rear-wheel drive and the option to switch over to four-wheel. The MPV remains in production today, though we prefer the attitude of the ’89 model. Hell, drop some speakers in the back, and you’ve got a WMD. Check out this video of one crushing a body of water.

Continue reading “5 Classic Mazda Models To Dream About”

Flashback Friday: 6 Hilariously Classic Mazda Models

We can’t wait for our new Mazda MX-5. Every time more rumors surface about the next Mazdaspeed, all of us at CorkSport can hardly contain our excitement. Still: We appreciate nostalgia, and for all the performance updates that Mazda has made over the years, it’s still fun to reminisce on their past accomplishments.

For a small player in the industry, Mazda has released some incredible cars over the years. Some have evolved into the models we mod out today; some disappeared like dinosaurs. They’re gone, but not quite forgotten, at least not by true Mazda heads. These are six of our favorite Mazda models from the past.

1. The Mazda Mazdago

First vehicle manufactured by Mazda
Mazda Philippines

Is it a motorcycle? Or an ATV? Or a truck? Technically, the Mazdago was the first “autorickshaw,” but we remember it more as the first vehicle manufactured by Mazda.

2. The Mazda Savanna RX-3

city-data
city-data

Long live the rotary, right? We can’t wait for the new one, whenever that will be, but we love any shot from the rotary family. Given the Savanna’s huge success in the 70s, it won’t ever be forgotten, but it’s sadly rare to see one of these morsels on the road today.

3. The Mazda Titan

goo-net
goo-net

Not to be confused with the Nissan truck, this commercial behemoth actually lives up to its name. The boxy Mazda Titan is still around, and still not the prettiest truck on the road.

4. The Mazda Bongo

cartype
cartype

Technically, these sometimes trucks, sometimes vans remain in production—at least for a little while longer. It’s the photos of the first models, though, like the first gen pictured above, that catch our eye. The Mazda Bongo has never been a sleek van, but that’s OK when their main job is to be functional.

5. The Mazda REPU

Flickr
Flickr

This was not a popular truck. Known for guzzling gas, its appearance right before the 1970s gas crisis might have sealed its fate. The Mazda REPU was a lot faster than its competition, though, and we kind of love that it had a rotary engine.

6. The Mazda MX-3

cargurus
cargurus

The Mazda MX-3 died out the same year CorkSport was born, and we remember it for the performance modifications. The MX-3 was basically made for Mazda performance enhancement. If you see one on the road today, chances are someone’s been under the hood, installing a lot of upgrades.

Did we miss any? (Rhetorical question, people. Mazda has made a lot of cars.)

 

Cheers,

CorkSport