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.

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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.

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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!

 

2015 Mazda 2 Actual Photos Released

 

-CorkSportMazda-2-Released-2015-Shots

These are the first images of the new Mazda2 or Mazda Demio as it will be known in Japan. Thanks to CarScoops.com for the photos.

 

Luckily it looks like Mazda decided to stick pretty close to their fantastic looking Hazumi concept, which is great news for anyone that loved the aggressive style.

 

We also noticed while looking at the photos that there appears to be some sensors at the top of the windshield just like in the newest Mazda 3 and Mazda 6. I assume this means it will be getting the adaptive cruise control, rain sensing wipers, brake assist, and other fancy technology for at least the higher end models.

 

Personally I’m a big fan of the interior, it looks sporty, clean, and upscale. Definitely a winner in my book!

 

Though Mazda hasn’t announced the engines yet, we are pretty confident that they will be releasing it with a 1.5L SkyActiv engine, and possibly the SkyActiv-D 1.5L also. We can only hope!

Mazda-2-Released-2015-Shots

Mazda-2-Released-2015-Shots-Interior

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

Product Release – CORKSPORT Adjustable Aluminum Shift Knob

At CorkSport we value innovation. We’ve got dozens of products that are unique on the market. Our Blow-off valve is being patented. How do you innovate a shift knob? That’s a tough one but we found a way!

Are you ready for one of the first shiftknobs that you can adjust?  At its lightest, weighing in at 175 grams, and adjustable up to 320 grams, you will be able to tailor your shift weight to your driving style.

CorkSport Adjustable Weight Aluminum Shift Knob

To really feel your shifts, adjust the weight to the lighter side, as low as 175 grams and feel the intricate shift points as you flow through the gears. For those that like heavy knobs, you can max it out to 320 grams, giving you smoother shifts that easily falling into gear as you shift up and down through the gears.

CorkSport Adjustable Weighted Shift Knob

For example the first generation Mazdaspeed 3 (2007-2009) OEM shiftknob weighs in at 260 grams and the 2nd generation Mazdaspeed 3 (2010-2013) weighs in at 280 grams. You can find that sweet spot above or below that OEM weight to customize your driving style.

After you find that ideal and magical weight, installation will take about a minute as you screw on the knob. There are no set screws or adapters, it will screw straight on the OEM shaft as they were designed specifically for your Mazda vehicle. CAD designed and manufactured out of a durable deep blue or sleek black aluminium for a long life and incredible feel.

Order your CorkSport Adjustable Shift Knob Today – Only $89

 

Get Your Race On

 

 

Get Your Race On

 

 

The 2014 SCCA Majors race season kicked off for the west coast at Autoclub speedway which most people know as that place they race Nascar and Indycar in California.  What most people do not know is the track also runs an infield circuit aka sports car course which the SCCA uses for events.

Autoclub Speedway - CorkSport Mazdaspeed

 

The fun thing about Autoclub is I have never raced there before so all I had to familiarize myself was watching youtube videos of people running the track.  I had to skip the Friday practice and qualifying so my first time on the track was the second qualifying for 15 minutes on Saturday morning.  I was careful to make sure I was behind the other 2 B-Spec cars which were attending the event so I could follow them to #1 and get a measure of their speed and #2 see how they were taking lines on the track to use later.

If you have never driven on an oval before it is crazy at the angle you sit at on the actual oval sections of the track.  You mind say you will slide down the track if you are not moving.   When you are at race speed you have to tell yourself that you will not slide up the track doing over a 100 in a corner.

For the first race I qualified 2nd and was a Mazda 2 sandwich between the Honda fits.  At the start of the race both Honda jumped in front of me but I was able to pass 1 of the cars to get back behind the faster red car.  I had paced the 1st place for for a few laps and I found sections where I was faster and could make up time against him.  The race was going to be 13 laps based on the time we had for the event so on lap 11 I got a great run at the Honda and passed him on the corner of the oval to take the lead.  I was able to hold him off for 2 laps to take the first win of the season for CorkSport and Mazda.  During that race I also happen to set a new B-Spec track record at 2:09.8 which put me on the pole for Sunday’s race.

CorkSport Mazdaspeed

On Sunday I was able to jump out in front at the start and keep both of the Hondas behind me for the duration of the race to take the second win of the weekend.

The next Majors event was at Inde Motorsport Ranch in Willcox Az.  Willcox is about 1 hour east of Tucson which is the middle of nowhere.  The track there was incredible to race on and very technical in contrast to Autoclub where HP rules aka Inde is a great B-Spec track.

 CorkSport Mazdaspeed

Saturday started out with a quick practice session with a mixed group of the really fast cars aka GT1 etc and the slower cars aka B-Spec etc.  When you drop the really fast cars with the slow cars it becomes and exercise in watching your mirrors at all times to not get run over which I happen to excel at based on previous races.  I learned that the race was going to be won or lost on the exit speed of corner #1-2 on to the main straight.  You mess that up you will find yourself behind by seconds by the time you hit the end of the straight.  After a quick qualifying session I found myself in 2nd by a few hundredths of a second behind once again the red Honda fit.  The race started off like they normally do with the first lap chaos which saw a STU class RSX hit a H Production Spitfire and spin him out in the middle of corner #2 right before the straight which caused everyone to take some evasive moves.  Both Honda fits were able to put a few cars between them and myself.  I slowly worked around cars and was able to pass the black fit to start working on running down the red car.

CorkSport Mazdaspeed

By lap #16 I had caught up the red fit when the 1 to go sign came out which meant I had to get past him now.  On the main straight I was able to get right up on the fit and close up with some late braking into #7.  Right at that point two faster STU class cars caught up and dropped right into the corner on top of us.  There was a BMW Z3 who went into the corner too fast and I had to drive off the track to avoid getting hit.

CorkSport Mazdaspeed
My re-entry onto the track and the guilty BMW

I was able to catch back up to the BMW in the corners but the two faster cars were not able to get around the Honda fit to give me a chance to catch him before the finish so I had to settle for second place (I was not a happy driver).

CorkSport Mazdaspeed
I caught up to the “faster car” that ran me off 2 corners later

 

Determined to not let that on track experience ruin my weekend I focused on where I could improve my times by looking at the data from my Aim Solo DL.  There were several spots on the track that could be better so I focused my energy on the one spot which would give me the most benefit for the next day.

On Sunday there was a short practice session which I went out on and I was able to turn a fast lap which I was happy with and could count on making myself competitive for the race with.

The race was full of adventures as they always are and in the end I came out in first place.  Instead of making you watch a 7 minute full race video check out the condensed version with the highlights above.  There is plenty of good stuff.

 

With the three first place finished and 1 second I am in the lead for the Western Majors Conference for B-Spec for the year.  The next two events are in April at Thunderhill in willows California and two weeks later at Button Willow.  Both of those tracks I have experience at and there is rumored to be 3 new cars to race against in B-Spec.  If anyone is near one of those tracks we always welcome customers and friends of CorkSport to stop by the track and say hello.  Feel free to contact me if this is something you think you would like to do.

-Derrick

Loud Pedal Magazine

Loud Pedal

The Oregen Region SCCA Magazine Publication Loud Pedal recently featured fellow CorkSport co-founder Derrick Ambrose and “the Ultimate Mazda Performance Guide”. Loud Pedal  makes an awesome coffee table mag and includes some great info on the SCCA scene. If you aren’t familiar with the Oregon SCCA  they have a great site with events, racing info and how you can get into Road racing, rally, solo or whatever you may want to try. Check them out here: http://www.oregonscca.com/

Check out their latest copy of Loud Pedal online and  order a subscription to have a copy on the pool table in your mancave.

Plus checkout their recent shout out for the “The Ultimate Mazda Performance Guide” below:

The Ultimate Mazda Performance Guide

To order a copy of  The Ultimate Mazda Performance Guide – Click Here.

Is it the end of the world as we know it ?

It Has Begun

Looking at the Mazda corporate news feed this morning the news of the Mexico plant producing its first vehicle prompted the REM song, “it’s the end of the world as we know it” to play in my head.

The plant is a Mexico plant (known as MMVO) which will be making the Mazda 2 and Mazda 3 for consumption in the US and other countries on this side of the planet.  I have speculated in an earlier blog after Mazda announced that they would be building an engine plant there as well that we could see the CX5 and other vehicles being produced at the same location.  With the goal of being able to produce 230,000 vehicles by 2016 there will be more than enough capacity to go into other models.

 

Granted I do have my hesitation about the vehicles being made there (in Mexico).  Mazda is confident about the quality of the vehicles and they mentioned sending 150 of the plant engineers to Hiroshima for training in the production facilities there to make sure the product is consistent for the new plant.  The same could be said for VW who produces vehicles in Mexico as well and there have been little rumors of those vehicles be inferior to the German made cars.  Mazda does produce Mazda 2s and 3s in various plants around the planet like Thailand and Taiwan and the quality has been consistent from what I have heard over the years.

I am really pulling for Mazda to get this to work though, it will really help them be more profitable in the long run and help them out globally despite being one of the smaller car manufacturers that is independent.

Now the million dollar question, with the increased capacity, does this mean we have a better chance at getting a new Mazdaspeed 3 sooner than or later?

-Derrick