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

WHY GET INVOLVED IN THE MAZDA COMMUNITY?!

A car club by any other name is just a group of enthusiasts getting together to celebrate their gains, reach out for support, gather advice and inspiration, and ultimately find a reason to connect.

With Mazda clubs, specifically Nator Clubs, there is a LOT more to it than just the benefit to you as a single person.

We recently sent Kim out to the Epic Nator Meet in Robbinsville, NC, to ride the trail of the dragon, reach out to the Mazda community, and just generally bring her personality to ignite the shenanigans at the event. If you’ve ever had the “pleasure” of meeting or hanging out with Kim, you know what we’re talking about. You never know what will be said, how loud it will get, or how late into the night the event will go… especially if there’s a campfire.

She came back with some good info, great shots, and some awesome stories that reignite our LOVE of the NATOR MAZDASPEED CLUB and the Mazda community as a whole!

From the moment she started to plan her drive from Richmond, VA, she was able to connect with a fellow west coast transplant, and make the drive in her rental following the Mazdaspeed booty. Stopping for coffees, food, and to refuel it was an awesome drive all the way to Robbinsville, NC.

Pulling in, the hotel parking lot was already full of Mazda’s, and what a sight for sore eyes it was! Good friends from Canada, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, and so many other places! For those who had come in during the week, running the Tail of the Dragon had still not gotten old, and Mazdaspeeds were coming back from mid-day runs for dinner.

Nights filled with good friends, talk of cars, and connecting to just catch up were the basis of the meet, and hopping from one car to the next to get feedback and different set-ups and parts was awesome! No need to drive the Dragon in a rental when there are so many built Mazdas around!

We got reports of the spirit of the Nator Mazda community still being alive! With part swaps and repairs in the parking lot – all hands on deck, pickups on trailers for those with bigger issues, and unfortunately we saw the spirit of Nator in having one another’s backs as people as well! From fender benders to a hospital run to keep our squad safe and healthy!

There is nothing, and we mean it, absolutely nothing better than seeing what the Mazdaspeed Nator club is capable of when it comes to supporting one another, donating to a cause or raffle, and just genuinely having a great time!

Keep an eye out, as we will be sharing about our trip to the Mazda Takeover Event in Idaho very soon, and hosting our own event at the end of summer. There is very little that tops the feeling of being connected to a core group of Mazda enthusiasts, and from West coast to East coast, we do our best to stay connected and keep the spirit of the Mazda Community running deep!

Until next time, stay safe, stay fast, and stay happy my friends!

 

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

What Is Required at the Drag Strip?

 

Good day all of my CorkSport followers.  Is anyone else excited for warm weather, and track days?  Now is the time to get that Mazdaspeed prepped, modded, and out to the track.  

The CorkSport team has plenty of experience when it comes to track days. We have noticed in the past year more and more people have been getting into a Mazdaspeed platform, and before too long they are modding the car to test its capabilities.  Derrick is our road course guy in his 2015 Mazda 3, and I am the guy that likes the 1320. So what do you need to be able to run at the track? Protecting yourself, and making sure the car is properly put together can affect if you will be able to run your Mazdaspeed down the 1320.

Clothing

You will not be able to race your Mazdaspeed unless you wear pants, and closed toe shoes.  Every track you go to will require you to wear these two things. Every little bit counts especially if you have a high horsepower Mazdaspeed.  We have all seen the videos of accidents happening. I would hate to roll my Mazdaspeed, break glass, and have glass bits hitting my legs. So don’t forget those pants, and yoga pants do not count to all of you lady drivers.

Helmet

Each track has standard rules when it comes to safety equipment.  Depending on how fast your Mazdaspeed runs will determine what safety equipment you will need in order to race.  13.99 and faster you will need to make sure and wear a helmet. Also, if you run 13.99 and faster, you will not be able to have a passenger in the car with you.  If it is your first time at the track and you run faster than a 13.99 without a helmet, the track officials will ask you to wear a helmet moving forward. Failure to comply could get you removed from the track.

Vehicle Maintenance

This is probably the most important part of the inspection process when going to the track.  If you have been racing when oil/coolant dumps onto the track then you know how long it can take to get that stuff cleaned up.  Here are a few things the officials look for when you are trying to race your Mazdaspeed.

These things are non-negotiable.  If your Mazdaspeed does not pass any of these then the track officials will not let you run your car down the track.  All you fast guys out there need to double check with your local track to see what you have to do to the car depending on how fast you run.

Additional Safety Equipment

If you do have a Mazdaspeed capable of 11’s or faster, then you will be required to do a lot more to the car in order to safely run.  I would double check with your local track, but every track I have been to require you to have a roll cage, and a fire suit if you are running 11’s or faster in the 1320.  Also, if you have your battery relocated into the hatch, you will need a kill switch mounted somewhere on the rear of the car just in case you roll when racing.

READERS BEWARE:

Going to the track is highly addicting.  CorkSport will not be responsible for empty wallets in an attempt to make your Mazdaspeed go faster.  CorkSport will also not be held responsible for pulled muscles in your cheeks from having too much fun.  However, if you must modify your Mazdaspeed, CorkSport will be there to help you reach your goals!  Stay safe, and ZOOM ZOOM people.

Cheers,

Luke