Daytona International Speedway and a Mazda 3

Daytona International Raceway Track Map

Most people think Nascar when they hear about Daytona International Speedway. To road course guys like me, it’s the site of a 24-hour race, which we wait for every year in January. This past year, I participated in the SCCA Majors to qualify to run two different classes at the Runoffs, which were hosted at the Daytona Intl. Speedway.

My normal racetrack chariot is a 2011 Mazda 2 B-Spec, which I’ve raced for the past 4 years.

corksport-mazda-2-race-car
Derrick’s 2011 Mazda 2 B-Spec from Daytona coming out of turn 3.

I’ve been quietly building a 2015 Mazda 3 Sedan with a 2.5 engine to run in the SCCA T-4 class starting late in the season this year with the purpose of running it at Daytona. We picked up the car from getting the cage installed and had nine days to get all of the parts installed, get it dyno tuned for 98 octane, and load it up into a trailer to go to Daytona via Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. There’s nothing like taking a completely unsorted car to a national championship race on the other side of the country, just for fun.

At the Pirelli World Challenge race weekend at Mazda Raceway, the CorkSport Mazda 2 was piloted by Joey Jordan and swept the three races for a perfect weekend. In between the Mazda 2 getting serviced, we worked on the Mazda 3, getting the sound deadener removed, seat mounted, and safety gear installed. We also changed the springs installed on the car to CorkSport’s 2014+ Mazda 3 springs to make the ride height lower. At Daytona, you want less aero drag because of the low profile, so having the car as low as you can get it helps the speed on the oval section.

After the last race was finished up at Pirelli, we loaded up both Mazdas and headed to Daytona, which is a 44-hour drive across the country.

We arrived at Daytona on Friday to do some final setup on the Mazda 2 and finish the prep work on the Mazda 3 before our test day on Saturday.

corksport-mazda-3-race-car

I’ve raced at Autoclub speedway in Fontana California before, so I was familiar with a banked track but not quite as familiar with that long of a time on the track.

In the Mazda 2, I found myself looking around at the scenery a lot during the Saturday test day. The infield was fun to find the limits on the car and mastering the bus stop with a quick hit of the brake then back on the gas was a big challenge for me.

In the Mazda 3 on Sunday, I got a reminder of what a new car can be like while getting everything dialed in. I had massive understeer with the car and had to modulate the throttle constantly to get the car to turn. On the straight sections, the car was fast and I could hang with most of the cars out there if I got enough of a run out of the corners. To give you an idea of how much faster the Mazda 3 was at the time trap, the fastest draft time I got with the Mazda 2 was 119mph. In the Mazda 3, it was 139mph. This was before you head into a turn and slow down in the shortest possible space before busting a quick left into the infield. If you get it wrong, the guys behind you made up time on you. If you get it right, you can get more of a lead.

Another huge problem I had with the Mazda 3 was I couldn’t see anything out of the left side of the car. The window size is pretty small, the window net didn’t help, and the massive left mirror did its best to keep me from seeing the apex or the other cars.

I qualified for the championship race 15th out of 22 cars, which isn’t great, but it’s not the back of the field. I was four seconds off the pace of the pole sitting Honda Civic, which gives you an idea of how well sorted that car was in comparison to the Mazda 3 in its first weekend at the track.

corksport-mazda-3-racing-daytona

Honestly, the T-4 started off pretty crappy for me. I got jumped on the start and was forced to the outside of turn 1 where I couldn’t judge the car next to me going through the corner, so I lost a spot. Two laps later, I got to watch Scotty White in his Mustang get turned into by a RSX right in front of me going into the bus stop, which made for some great front row entertainment. Toss in a few dive bombs by a Camaro and it made for a good time. I spent the rest of the race trying to be as nice to my front left tire in the infield as I could.

corksport-mazda-3-daytona-track-race

In the end, I finished in 15th, which is the exact spot I started the race in! For this upcoming season, we’ll work on the suspension setup to improve the car’s cornering speeds to be more competitive and work on the driver setup.

I have to give a big thanks to CorkSport for the parts installed on the Mazda 3, which worked flawlessly, Joey Jordan Motorsports for the spotting and chassis setup at the track, Joe at Dynotronics for the 98 octane Skyactiv Tune in a super short period of time, Monarch Inspections for letting us steal your worker bee to drive the truck across the country, 47 Moto for the wrench help, Mazdaspeed Motorsports for being the best vehicle manufacturer that supports club racing, and my wife and kids for putting up with me running off to chase my dreams.

Meet Derrick from CorkSport. Loves racing, Mazdas, and his CS fam.

The Benefits of Driving a Hatchback

What’s not to love about a hatchback?

Mazda-2-Released-2015-Shots-Side-View

We’ve written before about how most Americans prefer sedans to a hatch, a phenomenon we don’t entirely understand. Part of us feels like to each his own. You fill your garage with sedans; I’ll enjoy my Mazdaspeed 3 — and also my Mazdaspeed 6, because we get it: sedans can be great too. Live and let live. On the other hand, the fact that people overwhelmingly prefer sedans is part of the reason we haven’t seen the new Mazda 2 in this country. We can sit and stew about this, or we can tell you the benefits of driving a hatchback. If you’re already on board, tell us in the comments what perks we missed.

1. More storage room

Want to drive your mountain bike up to the cabin you just rented for the weekend? No problem! If you drive a hatchback, that is. You can compare just about any two models of the same car, and the hatchback beats the sedan for storage space every time. Without that extra room taken up by the barrier between the back seat and the trunk, you can fill your hatch with boxes, a dog crate, or any piece of recreational equipment you want. If you need more space, add a luggage rack — but 99.9% of the time, if you drive a hatchback, you won’t need more.

2. More headroom

A lot of sedans are made with average heights in mind. That’s fine if you’re 5’10” on the dot or anything below, but if you’re even slightly taller, you’re gonna feel cramped. The solution: A hatchback. Hatches tend to have a lot more clearance, so no more bumping your head when you step in and out of the driver’s seat. It’s downright roomy in there.

3. Better resale value

This can change from car to car, but as topyaps pointed out, “Hatchbacks have the highest resale value and significantly much better than that of a sedan.” Of course, few of us can see ourselves parting with our dear Mazdaspeed 3s anytime soon, but we all know that one day we’ll have to trade our baby in — if only because the new 2017 Mazdaspeed 3 is finally released. If you want to get the most bang for your buck and recuperate some of the initial cost, buy a hatchback, not a sedan.

4. Same mileage

What’s that, you say? All of these benefits without a higher cost at the gas pump? It’s true, usually. Hatchbacks tend to have around the same gas mileage as their sedan counterparts, so you don’t have to fork over more money as the years pass. They’re great cars; they’re practical; and they’re as efficient as any sedan. Are you sold yet? If not, take a ride in your buddy’s MS3. If the other benefits of driving a hatchback don’t sway you, that will.

 

Cheers,

CorkSport

The Mazda Sedan You Definitely Haven’t Heard Of

Who wants a small, practical, cheap, gas efficient car?

Everyone, right?

If that’s really true we will point you towards the new Mazda 2 that should be available in the USA in just a short amount of time. We think it’s a great-looking car that will be fun to drive and easy on the gas budget.

CorkSport-2016-Mazda-2-Hatchback-City-Car-MPG-

The problem with the Mazda 2, though, is that people seem to love sedans in the USA. Why? I’m not sure. The practicality of a hatchback seem to far outweigh any benefit (Maybe looks? Maybe?) of the sedan. Hatches have more storage room, more headroom, more trunk space, and get the same exact gas mileage usually. Nonetheless, we have proven again and again that we prefer sedans in America, so what do you do?

The answer is simple: Buy a Scion.

Buy a Scion? Really? Why would a Mazda performance parts company tell me to buy a Scion!?

Easy: The new Scion iA is actually just a Mazda 2 that is a sedan version and re-badged as a Scion. According to jalopnik.com, “This iA is actually more Mazda than Toyota, based on Mazda’s SkyActiv platform and sharing a lot of its guts with the new Mazda 2.”

It sure looks like a small Mazda 3, and the fact that it will be badged Scion is a good thing! Not only does this mean that you can essentially buy a Mazda 2 Sedan that Mazda won’t be offering in the US officially, but it has two other aspects that we really like.

  • One, a partnership between Toyota/Scion and Mazda means that hopefully the iA can use all the same parts we develop for the Mazda 2. This means we should reach a new audience that wouldn’t typically be aware of our parts.
  • Two, a partnership between Toyota/Scion and Mazda means that Mazda should be selling more cars, even if it is under the name Scion and through a partnership. This means extra revenue and thus, more money to put toward cars like the next Mazdaspeed or Rotary. Mazda has always been a smaller player in the automotive world and so a partnership to get more people in a “Mazda” (even if they are buying it as a Scion) will benefit the brand overall and bring more money to them. This is a win-win we believe!

So keep an eye out! This could be one of the next big sellers, and you can be “in-the-know” that Mazda will be selling a Sedan Mazda 2 badged Scion.

Cheers,

Spencer ABOUT_BLOG_Spencer

Sources:

https://www.cars.com/articles/why-scion-picked-mazda-to-build-the-ia-1420680343797/

http://jalopnik.com/the-scion-ia-a-cheap-catfish-faced-sedan-that-may-jus-1694912877

2014 SCCA National Championship Runoffs: End of a Long Season

2014 SCCA National Championship Runoffs

So, a few weeks back I attended the 2014 SCCA National Championship runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with aspirations of finishing on the podium in B-Spec with the CorkSport sponsored Mazda 2.

CorkSport Mazda 2

Day One:

The first day was a practice day in order to check out the car and review the changes we made, ensuring that everything was perfect for the three days of qualifying.  After the first test session, we made a few small changes and went back out for the afternoon session…

That’s where things got crazy.

The track was feeling greasy and the car was sliding around a bit, making corner 6 a handful since its taken flat out in a B-Spec car.  On the 7th lap the car drifted to the outside much faster than it had before so I steered into the drift and went off in the dirt. My plan was to ride it out and get back on the track towards the top of the hill.

Needless to say, things did not go as planned…

 

The video above is courtesy of a Spec Miata driver and friend at the track Steven Powers who (being directly behind me) got front row seats to witness the whole thing.

Rather than riding it out of the dirt, the front corner of the Mazda 2 made direct contact with a concrete wall… sideways (which  data showed being at 30mph). After playing 20 questions with the safety crew and getting the car loaded up, I was dropped off in my pit to evaluate the damage and make a plan on what to do next.  We got the car disassembled with help of fellow racers, slowly realizing just how bent up the car really was.  Besides the sheet metal, we had punched several holes in the engine block, broke a wheel, bent the right side control arm and front sub frame.

It took 2 hours to take the car from a crunched mess to the picture below.

 

The Aftermath

Day Two:

I chose to sleep on the decision to either rebuild or scrap the whole weekend race.  The next morning, with an optimistic attitude, we took inventory and made the choice to rebuild the car at the track. Mazdaspeed Motorsports lent a major hand as we started chasing down the parts we would need to replace, while I was hitting the phones looking for a body shop with an empty frame machine so we could get started on the car ASAP.  8 calls later, we had our shop and loaded the car up on a flatbed in order to get the repairs going for straightening the car and getting it ready for a frame rail and shock tower.

More Aftermath

Spectrum Auto Collision was a great help with the overall repair of the car. They got right on the job and loaded the car up on to the frame machine while their awesome technician started straightening the drives side rail. Arrangements were made to have the replacement frame parts arrive to the shop for the following day so they could continue the repairs non-stop, getting the car back together for Thursday’s qualifying session.

corksport racing

Day Three and Four:

Due to a mishap with UPS, we were out one critical part needed to not only start work that Wednesday morning but also have it completed by that afternoon. This complication pushed back the plan that included having the car assembled in time to post a qualifying time.  After a discussion with the race officials, they agreed to let me start at the back of the B-Spec field allowing me to race despite not having a qualifying time. Which was awesome of them.

That Thursday evening, my trusty friend was delivered right back to the track so that we could start the re-assembly process. With the help of my crew, we rebuilt the engine, reinstalled the whole front suspension and sheet metal, and reinstalled the rebuilt motor within two days.

Day Five:

Saturday evening, we fired up the car to make sure it would be ready to go for the race.  After a drive around the paddock, the car was feeling good and ready to race on Sunday.

RACE DAY:

Lucky for us, the B-Spec/T-4 race was the first event on Sunday, meaning the track would be in its best condition.

Since I was at the back of the field, I snagged an opportunity to pass up the stacked up cars on the inside of corner 2 and get passed 2 cars in the first lap. Several laps later I was able to get around one of the HPD Honda fits, putting me in 8th place. The leading Chevy sonic was brought to a stop due to a check engine light, moving him from 1st place to last place and me to 7th. During the race, the Mazda 2 felt really loose (the back of the car was sliding around) and like the tires were wearing out quickly.  This is not expected due to the brand new tires we just had put on the car for the race. BFGoodrich tires always hold up extremely well to the abuse of B-Spec cars.  I reported it to the crew over the radio and I got back an acknowledgement.

CorkSport Racing Accident

If you look at the picture above you can see smoke rolling out of the front wheel. 

Results:

At the end of the race (back in the pits) I saw the driver’s side of the car was coated in Redline MTL transmission fluid which had also been coating the front and rear wheels causing that loose feeling I was getting.

Imagine driving on and off ice whipping through corners at the fastest speed you can go. That is exactly how crazy the race felt driving with the transmission fluid everywhere.

Later I found out that the crew had actually seen the smoke but decided to keep quiet about it so as not to alarm me and keeping me from changing my driving style (which had already been working). I am incredibly thankful they made that call, because it would have changed my driving and possibly caused more problems.

The final result was 7th place, which doesn’t give any trophies from the SCCA but I got something even better from Mazdaspeed.  I was gifted a copy of the book Never Stop Challenging, which chronicles Mazda’s path to winning Le Mans and overcoming all of the challenges they went through.  I was told by a good friend at the track (who has experience in amateur and professional racing) that he had not seen a car with as much damage as we had, rebuilt and make it back onto the track before.

 

Mazdaspeed race

 

Appreciation:

Thank you so much to CorkSport, Monarch Inspections (for the season long logistics support), Mazda Motorsports Crew, John Doonan, Mike Allen, Scott Kaluza, David Cook, and Dean Case who were at the track for the parts sourcing and tech help and the best trophy a Mazda racer could get.

Big thanks to my Dad (aka the crew), Joey Jordan Motorsports (for the help rebuilding the motor and getting the alignment straight), James Wilson and Black Armor Helmets (for driving out to race his 2 from Texas), Brad Green and his crew (for help getting the car taken apart), Steven Powers (for the video) as well as all of the B-Spec racers who I got to compete against all season long.

Last but not least (in any way), I would like to say thank you to my wife Jessica and two daughters for being understanding of my pursuit in racing.

Zoom zoom.

– Derrick 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!