Boosted Down the Rabbit Hole

“Intake, test pipe, and a tune ONLY” was my mantra.  I’d just bought a shiny new ’13 tech package VRM MazdaSpeed3 with the extended warranty, 3 miles on the odometer as it rolled off the lot for the test drive.  Via the web forums (back when MSF was still popular), I had performed my due diligence in terms of where I was headed with this ride. I knew what my mods would be, the results to expect, and even learned a bit about the tuning process, all with the intent to “stock out” in less than an hour in the event I broke something on the car.

But… the local Nator chapter wrapped their slithering hentai tentacles around me, and those thoughts of a mildly tuned car with the manners fully intact started to erode.  The friends, the fun, and the performance results were an instant addiction.

In just a few short months I had sold that warranty back and started down the rabbit hole.  Trips to Epic NATOR Meets were a terribly awesome influence, seeing cars on the bleeding edge of the DISI Mazdaspeed platform, and meeting several of the prominent people in the Mazda community that were so forthcoming with their knowledge.  The hook was set!

I found myself pursuing information, and if there wasn’t any data to be had, I wanted to make it myself.  I tested and cataloged a variety of items, from NVH with motor mounts to compression test compendiums (yes Cylinder 3, you deserve that BAD rap!), meanwhile moving along the mod path to a medium turbo, front mount intercooler, and a methanol kit.  Once I purchased a spare long block, I knew I was getting in ball-joints deep.

Fast forward to today.  I’ve been very fortunate to be chosen to test products for a handful of vendors!  With an aligned focus – direct fit or minimal fabrication parts – I’ve reached my (probably temporary) goal of 500 wheel horsepower! Where I’ve tested the limits of products/parts for many companies – whether they have asked me to or not. The CorkSport 3.5 Bar Map Sensor is a solid example of exceeding the envelope, as I did manage to over boost while playing with my EBCS configuration, and pegging it at 37.58 PSI. (At 900 ft. ASL)

 Corksport asked me to describe my modification journey and how their beta parts have impacted my build and decisions, so there is no slight intended to the multitude of other people involved in my project – that list is not short.

I’ve run the Corksport intake manifold for nearly 2 years and just prior to the big turbo transition.  

  • It gained 12 g/s flow on the identical tune and no other modifications, so I knew it was an immediate upgrade.
  • I’ve been hammering  30+psi through it for the majority of that time, and my built engine is approaching 25 thousand miles with that duress.  
  • The spark plugs have been pristine and uniform, indicating to me the flow is balanced in the runners.  
  • There is no better fitting upgrade intake manifold for the platform.  

The beta-testing portion of this journey has been pretty awesome. Constant emails and conversations back and forth with the CorkSport Engineering team, and support from installation, to checking in periodically afterward to see how the system is running and the part is performing for me and my particular set-up. I understand that I am not the only one to have been running this part as a beta-tester, which just shows how thorough this company is with it’s beta-testing.

Barett, the CorkSport engineer, was probably annoyed with the ‘data-whore’ aspect of who I am, but man was it fun! Tracking my progress throughout, and sending info back and forth fed the logical performance driven sides of me for quite a while.

The manifold was recently combined with the Corksport 72mm throttle body, which takes advantage of the IM’s oversized opening, which I feel will scale up with even more power should I get the itch for ludicrous speed.  There is zero loss of drivability with the TB mimicking the factory unit electronics and nothing for your tuner to battle with like the old days of trying to open up that choke point.

While it’s usually about performance parts for me, I have to say that I run a few of the CorkSport “comfort” pieces and can genuinely say they are worth the investment. The CorkSport Performance Steering Wheel is just amazing! The contoured grips are a tremendous comfort for long drives, and the beefy upper section is awesome for the twisties in roads like the “Tail of the Dragon” in NC. It’s also shown no signs of wear in the last 2 years, and I look forward to driving with it for many years to come.

I was lucky enough to get the CorkSport Hood Strut kit when they were available, and now my hood opens significantly more than the prop rod and facilitates installing those go fast bits. (Hopefully, CorkSport gets wise and brings them back for sale again).

I would like to thank Corksport for giving me the opportunity to test their parts, in addition to many others, and YOU for taking the time to read my cool story, bro!

Spread the boost – there is no vaccine!

Jason

Working on the Driver

I have been racing Mazdas on the track in wheel-to-wheel competition since 2013 and I have learned quite a bit.

I am nowhere near being the best driver. I have good moments and plenty of “WTF Derrick” things which happen on the track which are masked by good car control.

2 years ago I bought a Spec Miata (SM). Locally the number of B-Spec and Touring 4 classes are smaller.  This is not great for me, as I find my racecraft suffers when I get too big events where there are more than 5 cars and the racing is close.  I can always fight my way to 2nd or 3rd place but the top step has been elusive.  Don’t get me wrong, I can go to events where there are other T4 cars (they are not unicorns) but the travel cost, time away from CorkSport, and fuel gets pricey really quick when constantly towing to southern California.

I took the SM out a few times last year and found I was way off the pace I needed to be to even get into the top 25% of a Ppec Miata field at any events.  The Northwest has a really strong group of SM racers who are more than happy to beat the illusion out of you that you can drive fast on the track.

This year I have been working on the car setup and updating the drive train to the best I can get for my car.  I worked with Haag Performance to get one of their SM 1.6 engines which have been winning races up and down the west coast. I have been also talking with Joe Jordan on car setup and general SM advice as he has gone down this road before with multiple SM drivers including Joey Jordan and Will Rodgers to get them to the top.

Before the season started I knew I wanted to get some top-level coaching so I looked locally at Pro Drive Racing which offers race school for SCCA certification and high-performance driving classes.  After few emails finding which event I should show up with my SM it was determined the June 5th high-performance school would be the best bet and I could get someone on one coaching with Todd Harris the head instructor.

I have struggled with the braking too much in the corners, as past instructors/coaches I have consistently mentioned this to me. I needed to overcome this if I was going to have a chance to match times with the top 25% of the field. With Todd strapped into the “Thrill Seat”, we hit the first session at speed so he could see how/what I doing and work on it.

This was a good news and bad news sort of ride.  He found my approach and driving style to corners works but it was not the fastest way through them – I was giving up cornering speed and to be able to get back to the throttle quicker. By simply backing up my braking zones I had more control in the corner which allowed me to stay committed to the throttle without having to modulate it after the steering wheel was turned.  This doesn’t seem like a huge thing but the feedback from the SM was drastically different. I was able to roll speed into the corners and carry a few more MPH. Heading onto a straightaway this is huge. I spent the rest of the day fine tuning the changes and making sure they stuck with me.

By the time this blog goes up, I will have raced again at the Oregon Region SCCA event at Portland Intl Raceway and found out how much the school improved my driving technique.  If I don’t screw it up too bad I should be able to take a second out of my lap times which in SM is HUGE! The weekend of June 29th I will be at Sonoma racing against 40 other SM drivers to really get a feel for where I am at skill level wise, I am prepared for this to be humbling, lol.

So, my advice to you, if you ever have a chance to take a driving school I really recommend it and specifically Pro Drive if you are in the Portland Oregon area.  They run a great program and you get one on one seat time with some of the best local drivers and instructors.

Look for future updates here at the CorkSport the blog on how it went.

-Derrick

A Color Change for Your Mazda

Ever sat in your garage looking at your Mazda and starting thinking about what a different color, a new wheel choice, or even some colorful accents would look like on your ride?

Without Photoshop skills, this is usually simply daydreaming without being able to see it in the flesh. Plasti dip can change that by giving you a cheap and easily reversible method to try out a new look on your car. I thought I would share my experiences with plasti dip, and give you all some tips and tricks to help you personalize your ride.

In case you haven’t heard of plasti dip, it started out as a thick paint-like coating that tools were dipped into to provide a rubberized handle for better grip. Eventually, it was put into spray paint cans to make it easier to apply to larger areas. Because it has a rubber-like quality, once it is applied and fully dried, it offers good protection but can also be easily peeled off when the original color or finish is desired.

Check out the wheel below in the middle of getting dip removed – it almost comes off like a vinyl wrap.

Plasti dip comes in a ton of colors so it makes it really easy to get exactly what you want. All the “base” colors come out as a matte finish, however, there are top coats that can give a gloss, metallic, or even a pearlescent color changing appearance so you can usually find exactly what you are looking for.

From my experience, the horror stories you hear about plasti dip are from those who are not using the product correctly. To help you avoid these headaches, below are some tips and tricks that have really helped me during my dipping ventures.

  • If it’s easy to remove; remove it! For wheels especially this makes it so much easier to make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies. Plus, you have to do a lot less masking. For any Mazda that has the front emblem recessed into the grill, remove it-masking is a pain and there are only 4 clips that hold it in.

  • Leave glued-on emblems on the car. These are a pain to remove and then reposition. If you clean your paint well enough, the dip will peel right off and “cut” itself around the emblem. Give yourself about 1”-2” around the edge of your emblem before your masking. The video below is also a great example of one of the pearlescent colors.

  • Prep, prep, and more prep. The cleaner your surfaces are the better quality your dip job will be. More protective, better looking, and longer lasting dip all come from good prep work. Using a good degreaser that doesn’t leave any residue works best. Also, make sure parts are completely dry before starting any plasti dip application.

 

  • Use the notecard trick for wheels. This works better if your wheels are off the car. Instead of masking the tire, place notecards between the tire and outer edge of the wheel. This gives good protection for the tire while being much quicker to apply and remove than tape.

  • Apply plenty of coats. This is one of the biggest reasons people have issues removing plasti dip-not enough layers! Your first layer should be a dust coat with pretty poor coverage. Then you should have at least 4 coats on top. These later coats should be wet coats-that is, apply the dip pretty heavy so you have an even, glossy/wet appearance for each coat.

 

  • Other simpler tips/tricks:

    • Get the hard to reach portions of wheels first, and then finish the coat with the face of the wheel for a more even appearance.

    • Use nickels/quarters in the tapered part of the lug nut holes. This prevents tearing when you reinstall your wheels.

    • Get plastic “spudger” tools like the ones below. They make it easy to peel hard to reach areas like the inside of emblems without having to worry about scratching the paint underneath.

    • Do your research beforehand. There is a ton of useful information out there to make sure you get your job done right.

Now, I have mainly done wheels and emblems as they are very inexpensive to do and DIY friendly. There are plenty of people out there who do entire cars though. I would highly recommend getting a proper sprayer and liquid plasti dip to prevent the streaking that seems to always show up when rattle canning an entire car. Even with this added cost, you can get a full paint job for only a few hundred instead of a few thousand.

Where plasti dip can get really interesting is the creativity that comes with it. Personalizing some of the CorkSport parts on your Mazda can really give it that finishing touch. How about a custom color Aluminum Shift Knob that has the added bonus of extra grip? Or even some extra protection for your CorkSport Front Lip or Carbon Fiber Hood Scoop during the winter months. I think some plasti dipped CorkSport Gauges could look great in the right color. That is what’s great about plasti dip though – try whatever you want, and if you don’t like it, simply remove it and try again!

Let us know what you have plasti dipped down below, and include any other tips if you have them!

 

-Daniel

Auxiliary Methanol Fueling for Your Mazdaspeed

The Mazdaspeed platform is a great place to start if you’re looking for a fun tuner car that offers awesome power to money spent ratio.  This holds true until you hit the capacity of the OEM fuel system. If you don’t know it already, the DISI MZR was one of the first gasoline direct injected engines offered in a passenger car.  For its time, the Mazdaspeed was a powerful and capable sport hatch right off the showroom floor, however, this type of fuel system quickly reaches it’s limits and is not easily modified for higher power.  

In this blog, we are going to take a look at auxiliary fueling with methanol and my personal experience taking this path.  

Damn, I’m out of fuel…  You got your Speed setup with all the hard parts (aka fully bolted) and finally pulled the trigger on that big turbo.  Just a few revisions and your tuner is telling you you’re out of fuel and more or less stuck at around 350-380whp (depending on turbo and octane).  It’s time for auxiliary fueling.

Now when considering auxiliary fueling it is critical to consider your goals with the car; the level of complexity and cost are drastically different depending on these goals.  

380-440whp Goal:

With this power goal you most likely have a fully bolted Mazdaspeed and an upgraded turbo such as the CorkSport 18G.  To achieve this power the auxiliary fuel system can be fairly simple.  From my experience, a single nozzle with the appropriate flow rate positioned just before the throttle body can get the job done.  This setup is very simple, consisting of a progressive rate controller, fuel cell, some tubing, nozzle and ideally a check valve on the nozzle.  This will cost you around $450 to get started.

I personally started with the AEM Methanol Kit, but there are many other kits available such as Devil’s Own, Auqamist, Snow Performance, and ProMeth.  I recommend doing some research to find the best kit for your needs before jumping in.

440-500whp Goal:

Once you break past that ~440whp mark you should really start to consider adding nozzles.  There’s a couple ways to do this.

First, you could maintain your basic system by adding another nozzle with a splitter and another port in your intercooler piping, just before the throttle body.  This can get you close the 500whp mark but is not ideal as you will need to run two very large nozzles. With nozzles, this large the fuel has difficulty atomizing and instead can condense into relatively larger droplets.  This is not ideal; however is only the added cost of a splitter and nozzle.

The other option is running a single nozzle on each intake manifold runner.  Check it out below.

By doing this, you can now run a smaller nozzle that will atomize much better, but since you have four nozzles you can still flow the appropriate volume for your power goal.  However, with this nozzle location, we have made a drastic design change to the system. In a pre-throttle body set up the nozzle never see vacuum, however once located in the intake manifold they will see vacuum which requires additional components to operate correctly.  

To avoid the risk of hydro-locking your engine and awful driving characteristics, we must add a check valve to each nozzle and a solenoid controlled valve to the hose that feeds the nozzles.  Check valves (which you see a close up of in just a bit) allow fuel to flow in only one direction. Along with that, a properly design check valve will have a crack pressure (minimum pressure to allow flow) that is slightly greater than the vacuum force in the intake manifold.  A solenoid is a valve that opens and closes and is controlled by the controller. This allows fuel to flow only when commanded by the controller.

Let’s take a closer look at the nozzles and distribution block necessary for a per-runner nozzle setup.  Looking at the nozzles you’ll see silver cylinder between the nozzle and the black fitting that connects to the hose.  This is the check valve. A simple, but critical part of the system for proper function. Up towards the top of the image, you see a single hose entering a black block along with four separate hoses leaving the block to each nozzle.  This is the distribution block; this can be configured in many ways, but more or less it allows you to direct fuel to each nozzle from a single hose.

So, as you can see moving to a per-runner setup includes a lot more complexity and cost.  This added cost is approximately $300 on top of the methanol kit you already purchased and not including an intake manifold that is already setup for nozzles.  You could cut a little cost by using nylon tubing versus stainless braided hose, but not much.

It’s also worth noting that the pump that comes standard with most kit will not flow enough fuel to support just under 500whp, so depending on your goal you may need an upgraded pump as well.  If this is the case I would recommend the pump from ProMeth only because it’s the only pump I’ve found that truly flows more.

500+whp Goal:

At this point, I would simply recommend moving to a true port-injection system.  Like the per-runner nozzle setup, a true port injection setup sprays fuel in each runner, but the systems, in general, are very different.  Since port injection alone could be a couple blogs on its own I will give the quick and dirty here. A true port injection setup uses conventional style gasoline injectors that control flow amount directly in the injector itself.  This allows much more precise control and reduces a lot of risks. However, the cost is much higher starting around $1500-$2000.

Lastly, I wanted to mention some things I love about the using methanol for auxiliary fueling.  Methanol is expensive, about $8-$12 per gallon which is a real bummer, but it does not get used for all driving situations.  You don’t use the methanol unless you are pushing your car to the point that the extra fuel is needed.

The methanol is contained in a separate fuel cell like the image above verses in the OE fuel tank.  Therefore it’s only used when you want to use it. Unlike E85 blends or other exotic fuel that must be mixed and/or used through the standard OE injectors and therefore used for all your commuting.  

I hope my lessons learned were useful for you and your exploration into methanol auxiliary fueling.   With that, I sign off.

-Barett @ CS

My Journey into the CorkSport Family

This may be a little bit abnormal for a CorkSport blog, but I wanted to OFFICIALLY introduce myself to you all and give you all some insight on what it’s like being involved in such a crazy and awesome family known as CorkSport.

My name is Daniel, and I’m the newest addition to the CS Engineering team. You may have seen me dotted around on social media or seen my name at the bottom of a few blogs throughout the last year. If you came to the CS dyno day last summer, I was the one running around absolutely covered in car gunk from hooking cars up to the dyno.

 

So what do I do at CS other than getting unnecessarily dirty? I am a product development engineer; which means I get to play around with cars all day and create parts for you all. Whether it’s designing on a CAD program, test fitting prototypes, or creating installation instructions, I strive to make awesome parts for your Mazdaspeeds and Mazdas, so you guys and gals can make your dream cars.

My passion for cars means I have found my dream job AND I was lucky to find it after graduating from the University of Washington. I had a few interesting internship experiences during college; one at a company designing beer brewing tanks, and another working at the Seattle Monorail but the dream was always the automotive aftermarket industry. Growing up I was always into cars, but I knew I wanted to be in the industry once I started driving.

Throughout high school, I drove a 1991 Jeep Wrangler. While interesting, I would not recommend one as a daily driver. I went to college without a car, so I was looking for something fun to have while I was back home over breaks and the summers. I ended up with a 1999 Honda Civic Si. It’s a nice example, but 1.6L of VTEC fury is only fun for so long. I had a turbo build planned, but as college progressed, courses got more difficult, and funds got tighter. I am still driving it around (with no turbo) but still want something more. The plan is to end up with a Mazdaspeed 6 soon.

 

Aside from the obvious excitement of landing what is definitely my dream job, my first experiences at CS were terrific. I spent the first few weeks getting a glimpse of all the different departments and how my job would impact them. This was doubly useful as I also got to know just about everyone in a short period. Once I transitioned into the full engineering role, I had to adapt to a completely new system of part numbering, project management, and time management. In any job, this can get overwhelming at times, but the environment around me made this a smooth transition.

I think the biggest thing I have taken away from my first year at CS is how different it is from everywhere I have worked in the past. With projects, my past job experiences have either been “this needs to be done yesterday” or “it gets done when it gets done.” These two extremes create unnecessary stress and slow progress respectively. With time and project management systems in place at CorkSport, we can maintain a happy medium where we make steady progress every day without feeling rushed. There are definitely times that the timelines get delayed and we feel the pressure, but we account for these in order to plan better in the future.

The people also make a considerable difference at CS. Instead of people just showing up to get a paycheck, everyone on the CorkSport team is passionate about their work and cares about what they do. This creates high-quality work for everyone and a fantastic dynamic where it honestly doesn’t feel like work. It’s more of a family dynamic than a typical workplace environment.

I’ve enjoyed my first year at CorkSport, and I’m excited to be a part of the Mazda community. I plan to produce the best parts that I can for all of you, and I hope to get to know some of you in the process. Stay tuned as I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me soon!

 

-Daniel