Mid-Season Racing Recap

A mid-season recap of the SCCA Western Conference races in the CorkSport Mazda 3.

Technically this is not a mid-season recap, it is more of a three-fourths of a season recap as all of the 6 SCCA Western Conference races are over and I won the conference in the CorkSport Mazda 3.

Autoclub Speedway, Fontana, California: This is the first time we had the Mazda 3 out on a roval and wow it was fast. The only car, which won for top speed, was an Acura RSX type S, which was at the event. I picked up a 3rd place in race one and a DNF in race two, as we had a technical problem with the car. It wasn’t critical but it could have torn up the car, so we stopped after five laps, which put me in 12th place.

Willow Springs, Willow, Springs California: I have never been to Willow Springs and struggled with the car to get a good pace. In race one, I played it safe to keep the car in one piece and finished 9th out of the 13 total cars. In race two, I was much quicker and fought my way up to 5th place. There was lots of traded paint in this race, which put a few cars out of the event.

In race one, I played it safe to keep the car in one piece and finished 9th out of the 13 total cars.

Thunder Hill, Willows, California: I like Thunderhill. I had not driven the Mazda 3 there before, but I have driven the B-Spec Mazda 2 I raced in prior years, and one of Mazda’s TD Mazda 6 which were used in the 25 hours of Thunderhill. In race one, I started at the back of the field due to a timing and scoring issue from the SCCA mixing up my car number, so I got no qualifying time. I was able to get to 3rd place in race one, which wasn’t too bad. I knew I was giving up some time on the track in a few spots after reviewing data, which set me up for race two. Race two went better as I got to fight it out with a NC Mx5 driven by a local driver. Twelve laps in, the Mazda 3 decided it didn’t like me using the brakes as the pads and went bye, bye. This meant I got to drive at 10/10s chasing an Mx5 with no brakes, just lots of metal on metal. When the brakes went, I lost 2nd place so I was playing catch up and throwing the car into corners to slow down. I was able to pressure the Mx5 and he went really wide in a flat out corner, which caused some damage to his car. He pulled into the pits and I was able to take it down a notch and finish in 2nd.

For race one, I qualified 4th out 10 cars which put me on the second row.

Button Willow Raceway, Button Willow: I have raced Button Willow a lot given our location in Vancouver, Washington, and Button Willow being 14 hours south of CorkSport. For race one, I qualified 4th out 10 cars which put me on the second row. The race was uneventful and I was able to keep 4th while holding off the same MX5 driver from Thunderhill. In race two, I got a little crazy at the start with the Acura Rsx from Autoclub and pictured above running the Mx5 off the track during the first lap. Check out my video!

Portland International Raceway, Portland, Oregon: This is my home track as it is all of 10 minutes from CorkSport. This was a pretty quiet race weekend as I qualified second and finished second in both races. I had nothing for the mustang who finished 1st in both races.

The Ridge Motorsport Park, Shelton, WA: I love the ridge, it is a great and challenging track.  We had some mixed conditions where it started raining during race one, so I got to practice car control on race slicks. End result was 1st place. The 2nd race was uneventful and I finished off the weekend with another 1st place.

So this leaves us with one more race for all the marbles at the SCCA runoffs at the end of September at Indy Motor Speedway. Yes, I really get to race at Indy and this is a serious bucket list for any road racer out there. We will be posting a link to watch the race live to see how the Mazda 3 and driver does against 40 other Touring 4 racers. Let’s hope this goes better than last year’s runoffs. I would really like to thank the support for racing the Mazda 3.  All of the parts we use on the track are supplied from CorkSport, the intake, exhaust, swaybar, camber arms, you name it. We are racing what we sell. Big thank you to BFGoodrich Tires for rubber and making sure we have the best tires to race on. This year, BFGracing came through with support for us with tires for the runoffs. Lastly, thank you to Mazda for the awesome car platform and Mazda Motorsports for the tech support with racing a car no one else in the US is running.

CorkSport Guide to Mazda 3 Suspension and Handling

Corksport Mazda 3 racer

I want to know…who is excited for summer to begin!? The Pacific Northwest has given us a rollercoaster of a winter and just doesn’t seem to want to let go of the rain, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light comes in the form of car season. In preparation of the summer (that is welcome to show up any time now) I thought I put out a summer setup guide for all you car enthusiast to consider. This week I’m going to start with suspension and handling, then move on to power and styling in the coming weeks. Grab a beer, take a seat and let’s get started.

Mazda 3 garage mods

For the sake of helping car enthusiast at any level of modification, let’s pretend I just bought a brand new 3rd Gen Mazda 3; a clean slate to modify and define as my own. I have had the car about a month now and love it. I’ve put it through it’s paces on the back roads and really appreciate what it can do in stock trim, but I’m ready for more. Now here comes the first big decision; what do I do first? This could be highly debated and I’m sure there are many paths to success so I’m just going to right to how I would proceed, but first some technical backstory.

Going through college and being a major part of the Portland State Formula SAE program, I was taught that suspension that moves is suspension that works. Long story short, slamming the car to the ground with overly stiff coils is not the path to a complaint suspension that also performs. There are three major aspects to your vehicle’s suspension: bump, roll stiffness, and damping. Bump (and/or squat) are mainly managed by the spring rates. Stiff springs are great for the track where you have a very smooth and consistent surface, but out on the public streets this is not the case so let’s not go crazy with the spring rates.

Next is the roll stiffness of the vehicle. This is managed by the springs and the swaybars, but ideally mostly by the swaybars. Sway control is important to keep the body roll in check while entering, apexing, and exiting a corner as well as many other vehicular maneuvers. The front and rear roll stiffness also dictates the oversteer and understeer characteristics of the vehicle so this can be a major tuning tool. Lastly is the damping of the struts and shocks. This is the fine tuning of the springs and swaybars and also the main reason why your car does not continually oscillate up and down like a boat after hitting a bump. These are very important.

Mazda 3 for summer

First modification I would do is…swaybars! Here’s why. Bumping up the roll stiffness has two major benefits. First, it’s a great way to “tidy up” the body movement without adding much harshness to the ride quality so you’re not giving up much for this modification.

Second, most passenger cars are setup to understeer from the factory. There’s good reason for this as the solution to control understeer is to apply the brakes which is most people’s automatic response in an adverse situation. If you’re more experienced, then getting the car to a more balanced under/oversteer setup will be great. The vehicle will be much more alert and predictable. Side note: to me both of the benefits mentioned above also inspire more confidence while driving which is a huge bonus.

So what do you need for this? A new performance Rear Swaybar would be the first choice and I would set it on the softer setting. This will make the car more balanced while still defaulting to understeer. If you are really serious then step up to the Front Swaybar as well to really get the roll stiffness in check with the rear bar on the stiffer setting. I know, I know we don’t have a front bar out yet…soon my friends 😉

Mazda 3 swaybar

The next modification I would do is a set of performance springs and shocks/struts. I really suggest doing these at the same time because that is how you are going to get the most out of them. The performance springs are going to add a bit more roll stiffness and bump/squat control while also lowering the car a bit which will help with the center of gravity. You will sacrifice some ride quality, but your car is going to feel like it’s on rails.   (Earlier I said don’t go to stiff and that holds true, most performance springs range from 10%-40% stiffer than OE which is usually still softer than a coil over setup).

Now the shocks/struts combo is important because with the higher spring rate you will need more damping to keep it under control and with the rebound adjustability you will be able to fine tune the damping. It’s a win-win.

Mazda 3 shocks and struts

Now you’re probably wondering if these can be broken down and purchased separately. Yes they can. There is no issue with purchasing the shocks/struts first as they will complement the swaybars and work fine with the OE springs. For example, the CorkSport Adjustable Shocks/Struts are design with this in mind. The softest rebound setting basically matches OE damping, but you also have the adjustment range of up to 70% stiffer rebound to accommodate fine tuning and stiffer performance springs. Now doing the springs first may result in some compromise.

Due to the stiffer spring rate you will have a bit bouncier ride quality since the OE damping was not designed for the higher spring rate, but you will survive, I promise. So if you need to break it into chunks then I would start with the shocks/struts first. Do note that its recommend you get some rear cambers arms and front camber plates with lowering springs so you can get the camber back to OE specs or to have the ability to set the camber.

Mazda 3 rear camber arms

Lastly and arguably the most important handling modification is tires! If you have never indulged in a set of high performance tires then wow, you don’t know what you are missing. Tire technology has improved leaps and bounds over the last decade and because of that there are many performance all –season tires available, but a jack of all trades is a master of none. I highly suggest this tire and wheel combination.

Get yourself a set of performance wheels (I know there are atleast a few brands that can be had for less than $200/wheel and weight less than 20 lbs each) and throw some high performance or ultra high performance tires on them for the summer. These tires are usually in the 200-300 treadwear rating and cost $200-$300 each depending on size. Do this NOW! I’m serious! And keep you OE wheels for some dedicated winter tires which again will blow you away with how much better they are than all-seasons.

mazda 3 big brake kit

Let’s wrap this up with one last suggestions if everything above isn’t enough for you. Brakes… The best way to go fast is with better brakes. There are a few options you can take here. A set of performance rotors and pads would be a great budget friendly setup with great benefits. If you want to step it up even further than I suggest a Big Brake Kit like the one above.

Performance breaks are a great addition to any vehicle for both performance and safety. Performance wise you can dive into corners later and harder without worry. Safety wise I think it’s pretty obvious. Have you ever rear-end another vehicle and thought “if only I could have stop five feet sooner”, well there you have it.

Alright one last thing before we wrap this up. Now that we have a really well setup Mazda 3 go to a track day! Yes, take your daily commuter to the track one day so you can find you and your car’s limits. I can express this enough. First off its so much FUN! Really it’s a blast and it’s safe. Most track days like High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) events even provide you with an instructor. This also gives you a chance to safely push the car to the limits and even past them. This provides much more confidence on the public roads and avoiding accidents.

Corksport Mazda 3 racer

Alright I’m done. I hope you enjoyed this and look forward to the next blog! I’m going for a drive!

 

-Barett @ CS

How We Tweaked Our Mazda Suspension

One great thing about racing is that you always keep tweaking the car to see how you can make it better. Each track presents a different challenge and setup requirements to keep you on your toes.

Derrick Racing for CorkSport at SCCA

We’ve been developing our SCCA Touring 4 (T4) class 2015 Mazda 3 into a viable competitor, and we recently got the final piece we needed to make it a strong candidate in Indianapolis this year for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. That final piece was a limited slip differential.

CorkSport Limited Slip Differential

A limited differential helps with traction, but it changes the handling characteristics of the car when you install it. We entered the SCCA Majors event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, to see how the car would do with the new differential. The biggest change was the handling; it was tight which means the car wanted to understeer. The car’s existing setup for ride height, toe, and camber would need to be adjusted to help remove the imbalance we had created.

The first thing we changed in the car was the ride height. Some concerns were brought up during discussions with Kenton Koch, our driving coach for the weekend (and a championship driver in several series). He pointed out this was one of the easiest changes to make on the fly. One thing to note: When you change anything, you need to make sure your change did not move something else. Once we had raised the car up half an inch, we took a look at the toe and camber settings. In this case, the car was right where we wanted it, so we headed out to try the new settings along with a 5psi bump in rear tire pressure.

The changes yielded a big boost in performance. We went from 2:02 around the track to 1:58, and moved up during the race from sixth to third. The car was fairly neutral around the track, but we still were not getting any oversteer. We opted to raise the rear of the car another full turn on the springs to see if we could get the change we were looking for. Another check of the rear toe settings after the change showed the new setup was good.

CorkSport at SCCA

That last turn did the trick in regards to oversteer. There was a hairpin corner where the car would oversteer too much, and it required lots of counter steering to stay pointed in the right direction without looping the car. Creating rake in the car was counter to advice we had gotten from the manufacturer of the suspension we are running. Sometimes going against the grain of what everyone else is doing can lead to some good discoveries and lessons learned.

We are already working on a new list of things to try for the next event and the opportunity to make our Mazda 3 a championship-winning car for Indy.

Derrick

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

CorkSport Joins Christmas Toy Drive 2016

A couple of weeks ago, CorkSport was contacted about a toy drive put together by a local car group called Tuner Coalition. They had heard about a group of kids at a local hospital that had hardly ever experienced a true Christmas. CorkSport loves to give back to the community, so we wanted to make some kids super happy this holiday season.

We all know that Christmas is about giving, so that’s what we did. I learned there is no better feeling than knowing your contribution will make a world of difference in someone’s life. That is our main goal here at CorkSport. We strive everyday to help our customers meet their goals and enjoy their modifications. It’s all about bringing happiness to others. And just look at how happy these kids will be.


This was not only a toy drive, but also a car meet. I brought my Mazdaspeed, and there was a first generation Mazda 3 that had some cool exterior upgrades. I also had the pleasure of meeting some really cool people. Even though we drove different cars, we were there for the same reason and shared the same passion for cars.

I had the pleasure of talking to a guy that owned an Ecoboost Mustang. He had a lethal performance turbo kit installed on the cusp of making 500whp. Needless to say, his engine bay was really clean; it had been meticulously hydro-dipped by a friend of his. I always liked the Ecoboost Mustang for its indirect relationship with Mazdaspeeds. The car definitely looked cool, and drew a lot of attention. He was a very humble guy and only had nice things to say about the my Mazdaspeed. He saw the front mount intercooler on my car and instantly had to know what was under the hood.

CorkSport loves to be a part of these types of events, and we encourage anyone to participate as well. We are here to help our community in any way possible. We would love to hear about some of your holiday car meets, and any kind of fundraisers you may have attended this holiday season! Get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter to share your mods and stories.

Cheers,

Luke