So when did you know you first wanted a Mazda? I had my high school years skewered a bit by friends and other influences down the trail of Mazda ownership. The first Mazda I really wanted was a 323 GTX. Getting a ride to school in rain, snow, or any weather made me realize how unique the car was. It didn’t help that the dual rear hatch wings and the decals down the side listing off the traits of a performance car “Full Time 4wd 16 Valve DOHC Turbo”. I do remember seeing the 88 anniversary edition Rx7s in white thinking they were cool but it didn’t have the pull the 323 GTX did.
It took 6 years before I got a chance to purchase a 323 GTX. I found one in the back of an auto week magazine located in New Mexico. The car was a 1988 model with no rust and had 132,000 miles on it. After several phone calls and a generous loan from a friend I flew to New Mexico with a cashiers check for $3750 in my hand. I met the owner the airport in Albuquerque after spending a day in airports with short trips in the air at 3pm. I drove the car to a nearby restaurant and took a look over the car. It was a relatively stock car with the rear muffler removed for a bit more power and noise. The interior was in good shape with no damage. So we made the deal and I headed on my way back home to Washington State.
This being my first turbo car I did do some reading up on it. I knew to let the car idle after driving hard for a period of time and to not stand on the gas until the car warmed up. I had heard term turbo lag but never experienced it before. About 3 minutes into driving the car to the freeway in Albuquerque I pulled out in between some cars to get onto the freeway. Standing on the throttle at 1300 rpm and the car didn’t move to fast. This whole experience stuck with me because of the large truck I had pulled out in front of that had to slow down because some fruit loop in a Mazda pulled out in front of him. Thankfully my first run in with turbo lag ended with the car or the driver being unhurt.
The drive back to Washington was un-eventful. The car was solid as could be and I averaged 24 miles per gallon driving through the night in Arizona and So cal to my first stop to rest. After a night sleep I drove home the rest of the way and arrived in time for work on Monday morning.
My co-workers were pretty amused at the purchase I made. I heard “you flew to New Mexico to get that?” Apparently they did not have a good appreciation for fine automobiles that I did (ha-ha).
Skip ahead 4 years and the car had needs some love. New turbocharger was installed on the car along with a refreshed cylinder head. That was too much for the poor bottom end of the motor. At 187,000 miles the piston rings had enough and I looked like the car James Bond with the smokescreen going full blast behind the car. So at a crossroads of sorts I found myself wondering where to go with the car. I had read up and seen the 90-94 323 turbo models from Japan and other markets. Spending some time looking around I located an engine supplier who had a BPT turbo engine in stock. After a week I had an engine sitting at home. It took a few weeks to get the installation sorted out with the changes between the engines but I was back on the road with the BPT running on the B6T hardware.
One thing that was nice was the BPT made a lot more torque than the B6T engine. It only took a year until the transmission let me know it did not care for the extra torque. I had to get across the street quickly between the flows of cars in downtown Portland. Going across the rutted street cost me the transmission. One of the tires left the ground for a second. When it came down BANG went the planetary assembly. I limped the car home knowing there probably wasn’t much hope for the transmission at that point. I decided then to use the transmission that arrived with the BPT engine.
The story does continue from here, but we’ll save that for the next entry…
Watching the Polish round of WRC (World Rally Championship) racing I realized how out of touch United States is with the rest of the planet in regards to auto racing. Look at the crowds that show up at the events in all of the countries that the WRC stops at. Oh wait that’s right Speed channel no longer shows the events so it forces us to download the event via torrents of the TV shows after they happen from Eurosport.
Back to my commentary, the world (except the US) supports the WRC events. On all of the stages you see crowds lining the roads. The spectators hike to the events just to get a chance to watch the cars blast by at a distance of 10 feet from the action. That’s right, no fences or guard rails, nothing. Stand on the outside of a corner and you can get showered with rocks or other debris (and possibly a car as if they blow a corner). You don’t hear of NASCAR shutting down an event because of too many spectators.
You also can’t match the surprises the events have. For example in an earlier event this year there were wild horses running across the roads, you don’t get that in an Indy car event. About the biggest critter you have showing up at a racetrack in the US is a rabbit. Weather doesn’t stop the events either. They will race a WRC in the worst weather including snow, mud, freezing rain, you name it.
Monte Carlo WRC round on ice covered roads shown above.
Rally racing has been in the US for years but it always seems to be out of the public eye. The WRC did visit Washington State once in the 80s but that was before the events were really televised. US rallying has shown up in the X Games, which has brought awareness of rally racing to the masses but it really has never caught on. I believe it is coverage of the events by racing press here in the US that is to blame for this.
You can find references about the events at the fringe. Grass Roots Motorsports (GRM) prints rally racing information from club and national US events but you never hear about anything outside of North America. Don’t get me wrong I am happy they do publish information but GRM is not exactly mainstream media. Speed channel showed the WRC for a few seasons then dropped it when they became NASCAR-vision.
You don’t get views like this at NASCAR tracks.
So if you are reading this blog post take a look out there at what the rest of the planet is up to for racing. You may be surprised at how exciting the racing can be on a gravel road at 125mph.
I mentioned last time that I’d tell you all a little bit about myself during my next blog post, so here it goes. My name is Jason Griffith, I am the new product development engineer here at Corksport. I am dedicated to streamlining our product development and expanding our ability to bring a wider variety of products to market while continuing to improve and promote our long time quality at a reasonable price.
I’m an all around car guy, worked in the aircraft and robotics industries for the last five years and I’m glad to finally make it into an industry that I have been passionate about for years as an enthusiast. Over the last 10 years I’ve built a few interesting cars and have really enjoyed the challenges and dynamics of standalone engine management and forced induction applications.
Some of the things I do in my spare time are design over-the-top intercooling systems, engine speed / angle and phase sensors for adapting aftermarket EMS’ to older engines with distributor ignitions, and working on friends cars (last few were a 1JZ powered ’80 Corolla and a Z31 Nissan w/ VG30DET running a Holset HX40W off a Cummins Turbo Diesel).
Some of my other goals here are to increase the number of mechanical parts we carry by using state of the art CAD and finite element analysis software. I’m an avid SolidWorks fan and I love designing machined parts for function and form. My personal opinion is that form should always follow function, but that doesn’t mean that well designed systems shouldn’t look the part in the process.
I’m also a total geek when it comes to testing and control systems – I love designing mechanisms for measurement and systems analysis. From thermal datalogging systems to model intercooler efficiency and behavior over time and temperature variation to mechanical measurement systems for mapping camshafts and understanding piston kinematics – I simply love learning.
Which is the other reason why I am here, not only do I love to challenge myself with new exciting opportunities to increase my fabrication skills and familiarity with Mazda, but I also love bringing out the engineer that lurks within every enthusiast. We are creative beings and automotive design and tuning puts creativity and applied engineering into the hands of each and every one of us. Working on cars and trucks made me decide to go back to school and become a design engineer and I have enjoyed every moment of it.
I’ve got parts to design, talk to y’all soon. Feel free to drop me an email with any questions or thoughts you may have for new product development – we’re going to add a section to the website for product idea submission in the next quarter as well.
In this age of multi-brand dealerships it’s not too often that you get to visit a Mazda only dealership, let alone a NEW Mazda only dealership. Most of the time the dealers are selling at least one other brand with the Mazda product line but not this time. Alan Webb built a new store for their Mazda franchise and had a performance meet / BBQ to celebrate the grand opening. Of course, I attended the event (on June 26th) and brought along one of our cars.
Anyone with a Mazda was invited to the event and there was a range of vehicles that showed up including some vintage Mazda hardware; an RX2 and RX3. The Mt Hood Miata club and RPNW (Rotary Power North West) made up the majority of cars that attended the event, but there was cars from all over the area.
I brought along the CorkSport project RX8 to the show to display the new CorkSport RX8 tower braces. The RX8 definitely gets lots of looks driving around.
Alan Webb stopped by the show as well and his comment about the CorkSport RX8 was “That car is hot!” I didn’t take the opportunity to give him a hard time about driving a 350z convertible to the show, next time I will.
A special thanks to Colin in the parts department at Alan Webb for getting the whole show together.