Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Painting, a Necessary Evil

Safety first right?  As much as I want to survive an unfortunate incident while racing my 650+whp Mazdaspeed3…I have a bone to pick with safety.  Sometimes it’s a real pain in the A**.  

Let me explain…and hopefully help you learn from my experience. 

Mazdaspeed3 Drag Racing

Today we are talking about how to paint a roll cage, specifically one that has been custom built to fit tightly inside the cab of a GEN1 Mazdaspeed 3.  How does this relate to safety?  Well…a cage is made from raw steel in “mild” or “chromoly” materials.  Both of these metals will corrode/rust over time. Not only will this result in a very ugly cage inside your car, but it could eventually affect the structural integrity of the roll cage, and that would defeat the whole purpose of it.  

With that I decided to paint the roll cage in my Mazdaspeed 3.  I daily drive and race the car AND I live in the PNW which has lots of rain and moisture.  In fact, in the couple weeks that I did drive the car with the raw cage, I was already getting surface rust build up…gross. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

To add to the difficulty, the cage in my Mazdaspeed was custom built from scratch vs a kit so it was very tight fitting and I have extra “X-bracing” added for increased roll over protection.  This just added to the amount of surface area to paint and the number of locations with bars very close to each other.   

The roll cage/hoop in my #halfmilespeed3 is technically a 8-point cage with an added X-brace in the main hoop and between the rear strut braces.  The X-bracing is what helps with high speed roll over protection, but with a weight penalty.  Go look at any modern rally car and you’ll see X-bracing plus lots more. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Ok, time to get our hands dirty.  Here are the major items you will need to paint your cage:

  1. Paint – I used a rust-oleum paint & Primer Combo.  Make sure it works with a metal surface.  2-3 cans will be needed to complete the job and I’d suggest a high gloss enamel finish.  It will be much easier to clean.
  2. Safety Equipment – Goggles, Face Mask (a real one with a rating for fine dust), Bunny Suit (because you will get paint ALL over you), Gloves
  3. Scotch Brite Pads – You will need this so you can remove any rust build up (assuming it is minor, if you have a heavily rusting and rough cage then you will need to get far more aggressive)
  4. Cleaner and Rags – Gotta clean the cage after the scotch brite process
  5. Plastic Wrap – This is like industrial size cling wrap.  Easily found at Home Depot or other hardware shops in the painting isle.
     
  6. Blue Tape – A few rolls of the 1.5” will do. 

Step 1: Remove everything you can from the interior (which may not actually be much if you have a cage.  Take your seats out, carpet (what’s left), center console, …etc

When I had the cage installed I decided I wanted to keep the front two seats as factory as possible.  With that I have kept my carpet, center console, dash, door cards, roof upholstery…other than the door bars from the cage, you would have no idea the car has a cage when sitting in the front seats. 

Step 2: Scotch Brite Time!  Grab a pad and start giving your cage a nice rub down. You need to go over all surfaces of the cage if you want good adhesion of the paint to the metal surface.  Once done, do a quick check and I bet you find some missed spots.  Get those also…

Step 3: Clean up time! Grab some clean rags and a cleaner that does not leave any residue.  Clean all the cage surfaces to remove any dust and/or oil.  This is equally as important for good paint adhesion.   

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Step 4: Time to seal up the car.  My number one advice here is avoid wind if possible.  This plastic sheet loves to blow away in the wind…it can be very frustrating.  If you have a friend that can help, that would be a great idea. 

You basically want to cover all exposed surfaces inside the car and a lot of the outside of the car.  While you are spray painting, you will be creating a lot of overspray mist floating in the air.  This will settle on all surfaces inside and out.  

I completely wrapped my doors and door edges, inside and outside of the car a bit. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

I completely covered my dash and shifter assembly. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

For the roof upholstery I did not use the plastic wrap, I actually used a piece of cardboard to act like a shield.  I held the cardboard with one hand, shielding the roof while I sprayed the upper sections of the cage.  It was effective and much easier than plastic wrap for that area.  

Step 5: Time to actually paint.  First you need to get into your bunny suit, get your gloves on, your face mask and goggles.  Be proud of how ridiculous you look!

Before you start spraying, make sure you are in a well ventilated area and do not have any other cars or items in close proximity; they will get paint on them. 

Actually Painting: I would advise starting with the hard to reach arrears first.  You are essentially painting inside a jungle gym so get to the hard to reach areas first so you don’t have to worry about touching wet paint later.  I started in the center and top of the cage because I had to be in the car to do so.  Then was able to get to the more outer parts of the cage while outside of the cage.  

Applying the paint is a bit of an art.  You want to apply smooth and consistent layers.  Your hand is always moving side to side as you spray.  Don’t point and shoot or you will get runs in the paint. 

Do a first coat that mostly covers all the surface area, then let it tach up for about an hour or reference the instructions on the can.  Then apply another coat of paint.  Trust me you will find thin or missed spots.  

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Step 6: Get out of the bunny suit.  Hahaha ya this can be a process

Anyways, I pushed my car back into the garage and let the paint cure overnight before removing the plastic wrap.  I didn’t want to risk the plastic wrap touching/sticking to the fresh paint.  You may not have that luxury and if you don’t I would at least give the paint a couple hours to cure before removing the plastic. 

Other takeaways – this was an ALL DAY PROJECT.  I thought I could get it done in half a day, but with the concerns about keeping the still installed interior looking good, I was extra cautious with the plastic wrap which added time.  I also did not want to do this again later so I was extra detailed with the painting process.  Checking for missed spots and thin areas after each coat.  

However, the result was well worth the work and I have no regrets about painting the cage.  I can now drive my car without worry of the cage getting ugly or losing strength due to corrosion.  I highly recommend that you take the day or so to make this happen in your car.  

CorkSport Shift S3ctor

I hope you enjoyed this blog and thank you for following along with the @halfmilespeed3. Stay connected (instagram, blog & “Built With Barett” video series) as we share more and more about the @halfmilespeed3 build…engine, seats, roll-cage, and power!  Rolling into the Shift Sector 2021 season we will have more great content to share!

-Barett @ CS

Mazdaspeed3 4″ Intake System

If you’re looking for big power (500+whp) potential for your Mazdaspeed 3 and don’t want to be held back by your intake system then look no further!

Benefits of a huge intake with the easy fitment of a smaller intake

Introducing the CorkSport 4” Intake system for ’07-’13 MS3 (Gen1 and Gen2). Featuring mandrel bent piping, a billet MAF housing, and a large aFe dry flow filter; you can get the benefits of a huge 4” intake with the easy fitment of a smaller intake. We went back to the drawing board for this intake to optimize both fitment and performance. Read on for details!

Mazdaspeed3 4" Intake System
2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 4 inch Intake System

We truly started from scratch to ensure the best fitment for this intake. The main change is the way the silicone couplers attach to the turbo inlet pipe. To get the pipe as close to the engine as possible for easy fitment, we use a custom-designed coupler off the compressor of the turbo. The 4” intake pipe fits straight into this, making install just that little bit easier. The biggest change though came at the MAF housing connection.

Takes up less room than some 3.5″ intakes

Instead of using a silicone coupler between the turbo inlet pipe and the MAF housing, the billet MAF housing is TIG welded directly onto the turbo intake pipe. This further helps fitment and helped us maximize filter size (more on that later). What this means is that you end up with a four-inch intake that takes up less room than some 3.5” intakes on the market while retaining the OEM mounting points and OEM BPV, PCV, and boost vent ports. It even fits with our 51R battery box!

Mazdaspeed3 4" Intake System
2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 51r Battery Box

The benefit of a 4” intake system is in the flow capacity. Moving up in intake size, even from a 3.5” to 4” offers an increase in maximum flow capacity. A bigger intake equals the potential for a larger volume of air ingested by the engine, which equals bigger power potential. You also increase the maximum airflow that can be read by the MAF sensor before it peaks, but you must get a tune to scale the MAF sensor.

So what does this mean for power gains?

Typically, a lower horsepower car will not see a power bump but, big power MS3’s can see an increase in power, just by reducing the airflow restriction before the turbo. While you may not quite be at a 3.5” intake’s limit at 600WHP, moving to a 4” intake will increase the efficiency of your build and reduce the strain on your turbo, with a chance at some extra ponies along the way!

Mazdaspeed3 4" Intake System
CorkSport

Increasing piping diameter only does so much if you have a highly restrictive filter. We focused heavily on fitting the biggest filter we could to minimize restriction coming from the filter. We chose aFe’s Pro Dry S material for great filtration and flow, without having to worry about an oiled filter dirtying the MAF sensor. Check out the image below comparing the new 4” intake filter to the filter used on our 3.5” intakes. The new filter’s media is larger than the entire old filter!

Mazdaspeed3 4" Intake System
CorkSport

While the new CorkSport 4” Intake may be a bit different from our normal intakes, we kept the same billet MAF housing design. A billet machined MAF housing ensures accurate and consistent diameter around the MAF sensor itself vs just using a pipe or plastic MAF housing while also letting us have a TRUE 4-inch inner diameter. This ensures that once calibrated, your MAF sensor will read stable and accurate. To be extra sure MAF readings are great, we pre-install air straighteners to ensure your MAF is getting clean and straight air.

Daily drive your Speed with this 4-inch intake system

With the consistent CNC machine inner diameter at a true 4 inches and the integrated air straighteners, you can daily drive your Speed with this 4-inch intake system and have MAF sensor range over 900whp.

Mazdaspeed3 4" Intake System
2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 4 inch Intake System

Each CorkSport 4” Intake System is made from mandrel bent 4” 6061 aluminum tubing for smooth airflow directly into your turbo. The billet aluminum MAF housing is TIG welded into position, as are all ports and brackets to ensure long-lasting strength. Each intake is finished off in a wrinkle black powder coat for a clean look that will match just about any engine bay. We also include your choice of 4-ply reinforced silicone coupler for the turbo inlet. We have 4”, 3”, and OEM diameter silicones so you can be sure your turbo with work great with the CS 4” intake. To finish it off, we include stainless steel T-bolt clamps for the connections, to prevent any vacuum leaks.

Mazdaspeed3 4" Intake System
2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 4 inch Intake System

The CorkSport 4 Inch Intake System is a complete package that can help you make big power on your Speed 3. Increase flow capacity and filter size to help that turbo breath better so you can make more power for longer. Check out the product listing for more images and don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions! Zoom-Zoom!

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6

After learning a lot from our re-release of the CorkSport Mazdaspeed 3 Coilovers, we decided to use our new design style and apply it to the GEN3 Mazdas. We are proud to introduce the CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Before and After

We hit a great balance between a street and track setup so you can have plenty of fun whether your corner of choice is on a backroad or an autocross course and still be comfortable on the daily commute.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2013-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6 Coilover Suspension

Along the same line as our MS3 kit, we diverged from the normal spring rates chosen for 3rd GEN coilover setups. We really wanted to strike a good middle point between a basic street coilover and a full race setup. 

With that in mind, spring rate selection was critical to ensure a stiff enough setup for good track handling but soft enough for regular roads.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Shop All 2014-2018 Mazda 3 Parts

The final rates we ended up at were 7K linear front springs and 8K linear rear springs. We prefer linear springs so that the car will react the same no matter the corner or bumpiness of the road. This provides a ride that is stiffer than stock but is not harsh or uncomfortable. This is coupled with more neutral handling (less understeer) and a suspension natural frequency that is slightly higher in the rear than the front for added driver feedback and comfort.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Racing Inspired

To further add to the handling benefits, the CS coilovers have 15-way adjustable rebound damping in both the front and the rear. This allows you to tune your ride to exactly how you like it, whether you’re going for comfort or handling. It’s even easy to use one set up at the track and then soften things up for the ride home! The front also comes with adjustable camber plates for fine-tuning camber for handling or fitment.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Long Lasting Quality

Obviously, there’s one big component that we haven’t talked about yet: ride height! The CorkSport Coilovers offer approximately 2 inches of ride height adjustment, with the highest option being roughly 0.5” lower than the OEM suspension. This is enough adjustment to go from an “OEM+” setup to a low setup that will turn heads and everything in between. This isn’t just about looks though as a lowered ride height offers a lower center of gravity, reduced body roll, and improves driver confidence.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Optimized Spring Rates

One final unconventional touch is the inverted monotube design of the front coilovers. Instead of a more conventional and cost-effective design, this uses a 180° rotated damper design. This improves the rigidity and reliability of the strut while also removing a little bit of unsprung weight. You get great driver feedback from this style of design, which is why we specifically chose it!

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Adjustability for Street and Track

The CorkSport Coilover kit is a great upgrade for whatever corner you want to throw at your GEN3. Be sure to check out the product listing for more details and images. 

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Shop All 2014-2018 Mazda 3 Parts

Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions you may have as well, we’re happy to help!

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold

Today is a huge day for the Speed community; one that has been coming for a long time with both celebration and frustration. Never the less time is up and this project is ready for the community as a whole!

We are proud to announce the Performance Exhaust Manifold for the Mazdaspeed 3 & 6! With over 2 years in development, the MPS exhaust manifold has been long waiting, but for good reason. A project of this scale does not happen overnight; many variables have to be considered, evaluated, and verified.  

I’m confident you have seen “leaked” images from our 6 Alpha and Beta testers over the recent month, but we can make it official.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
CorkSport

But with so many options currently available what makes the CorkSport option compelling? Why should you care?  

That’s a great question and one that can easily be answered with multiple great reasons. The most obvious is the design: this includes the overall shape and the type of material & manufacturing.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

Material & Manufacturing: In our initial investigation and vetting of this project we strongly considered two primary manufacturing methods; Casting and Tubular fabrication (check out the blog here). In a nutshell, we opted for a cast manufacturing method because it reduced the chance of failure modes, reduced the overall size and weight, and gave us more flexibility in design.  

Like most exhaust manifolds, we opted to use 304 stainless steel because it is corrosion-resistant, handles heat well, and is a common and cost-effective material.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Check out our other Blogs

Following up is Design: The list of details that went into the design is far too long to list here, but we can cover the major items that define the CS Exhaust Mani. With investment casting, we had a lot more flexibility in design with the bend radius, diameters, and wall thickness of the individual runners. This allowed us to increase the inner diameter of the runners to 1.59 inches, achieve a 0.200-inch wall thickness, and fine-tune the path and bends of each runner to optimize runner length and flow.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Check out our other Blogs

With that flexibility in design, we were able to increase peak flow and improve flow balance per runner. Overall we were able to increase peak flow 45% over the OEM manifold and 33% over the XS Power V3.  

Next up in design, and arguably the most exciting and unique aspect, is the modular flange system.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

This is unlike any other manifold available for the Mazdaspeed today…you can choose your flange between OEM Stock Flange, Precision V-Band, or T3. Sure all these options are available today from other options, but none are modular. Say you pull the trigger on the OE Stock Flange today, but a year from now you want to upgrade your build to a Precision V-band flange. With any other manifold, you would have to buy another $900+ manifold to get the new flange, but with the CorkSport Exhaust Manifold, you just have to get the new flange elbow for your setup. This is MUCH MUCH cheaper and easier to change!

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
CorkSport

Speaking of install, compared to the typical performance exhaust manifold the CS design is cake to install. With the modular design, you are not fighting the entire bulk for the manifold and flange at the same time. You can leave you turbocharger unmoved connected to the downpipe and intake system, you just install the flange elbow after the manifold is in and bolted to the engine.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

Making life even easier…we opted to develop a pre-fabbed dump tube (screamer pipe) for the Tial 44mm EWG. This is an optional feature for the kit, but one we highly suggest because it’s just so damned easy. Designed for MPS 3 and MPS 6, it fits around most standard downpipes and dumps below the sub-frame right behind the drive axle. Also included with each kit is a SS heat shield that is required for the GEN1 and GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3. You Mazdaspeed 6 guys just get a cool garage ornament.  

So how does the CS exhaust manifold stack up on power? 

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Check out our other Blogs

First up is a fully bolted CST4 MS3 with a 6th port fuel system: Comparing the CS EM to the OEM EM, this drop-in test we found that the turbo was spooling faster, carried more mid and upper range power and held that gain through to redline. Overall it improved power under that curve which is what truly makes a car fast and fun to drive.  

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Check out our other Blogs

Next up is a fully bolted and built CST6 MS3 with 8th port fuel system: Just like the previous graph, we saw an improvement in spool, mid and upper rpm ranges, and carried it to redline. The difference here is the exhaust manifold we are comparing. This is showing the difference between the CS EM and the XS Power V3.  

With that being said, the CorkSport Exhaust Mani has been proven to 685whp on this same car and with the CST6. We are confident the CS exhaust manifold has far more capacity to support; if we have anything to do with that we will prove it. 

Mazdaspeed Cast Exhaust Manifold
Mazdaspeed Exhaust Manifold

Lastly is sound…we’ve been asked a lot about the sound. How will it affect the sound? Will it sound like a Honda now? Will it be louder?  

We knew the sound was critical because let’s be honest…we are all car guys/gals and Mazdaspeed has a great unique sound to it. We did not want to lose that so we did our best to hit performance goals without sacrificing the Mazdaspeed grumble.  

One of our Beta testers put together a great video comparing the sound of OEM vs CorkSport. The car is a GEN1 MS3 with a built engine, full bolt-ons, CST4, and Cobb Exhaust system. Check out this video link for sound!

In our design, we kept a varied length runner design to help maintain the Mazdaspeed grumble. We believe we succeeded in keeping that classic grumble, but also refined the sound a bit. We like to describe it as exotic. Either way, the grumble lives on, and honestly, none of our beta testers can stop grinning ear to ear with every WOT pull.  

With that being said act fast! We know these are going to fly off the shelf and we are going to do our damn very best to keep them in stock for everyone, but don’t wait!

Grab yours here!

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Mazda Performance.  

-Barett @ CS

Barett’s 1/2 Mile Mazdaspeed 3 Build – Part 1

Hey Everyone, if you don’t know me already I’m the engineering manager at CorkSport Performance & @Halfmilespeed3.  I want to make a formal greeting and invite you to follow along as I take the next huge step with my personal build.  I drive a 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 that has been through many iterations.  I bought it nearly 6 years ago and have since used it in excess to support CorkSport R&D.  Hundreds if not thousands of passes on the dyno with so many parts…it’s been a beaten test mule.  The time has come to set a focus.

2007-2009 Mazdaspeed 3 Crashbar

Now, with the 4th engine going in it, I’m setting the build focus for ½ Mile Drag Racing.  Power, Aero, and some “Mad Scientist” R&D is going into this build.  (see WTF is THAT)

Mad Scientist Add-ons
600hp Mazdaspeed Build Path – CorkSport Barett’s 2009 Mazdaspeed

My goals are 700whp on the CST6 stock flange (with Will @ PD Tuning giving it the sauce) and 180mph in the standing ½ mile.  I plan to play in the 1320, but half mile is the focus.  My first event was going to be Never Lift @ Coalinga Munical Airport in Late March, but with recent events, this was canceled and a new date has not been set.  Fingers crossed the country gets through this and the next events hosted by Shift S3ctor Airstrip Attack in June and November hold.

Back to the build…I know that pushing a Mazdaspeed through the air at 180mph is a lofty goal and that physics are against me.  With the help and advice of Aaron O’neal @ English Racing I am exploring high-speed aero design. 

Gen 1 Mazdaspeed Parts

The primary goal is stability at high speed.  I want to be safe in this type of racing so I need to do what I can to make the car stable and predictable at speed.  This means I need the car to cut through the air as smoothly as possible, and if possible, generate downforce. 

To do this I’ve made a prototype drag wing (which I will share more detail on in a later blog) per the advice of Aaron and my research.  This wing is two feet long at the top! And with the closed sides, this should reduce the amount of lift generated at the back of the car.

There is still a lot more work to do here but you get the idea so far.

Splitter Mount
CorkSport

Upfront I am still very much in the conceptual phase of design.  Nearly the whole front bumper will be sealed off with a single sheet of ABS plastic formed to the front of the car.  The only opening will be a rectangle about the size of the intercooler for cooling airflow.  I also plan to build a chassis mounted splitter.  The red parts in the image above are the one-off brackets I designed to mount the splitter to the chassis and still be able to adjust the height (Again I’ll share more detail in future blogs as the prototype comes together).

CorkSport

The other less intuitive aero bit I’m doing on the front of the Speed is hood venting.  Thanks to Jonathan Castro @ JC Speedworks for the hood vent I’m able to kill two birds with one stone here.  If you’ve done any type of racing you know heat is a killer and must be managed.  With this hood vent, I am both evacuating any high-pressure air build up in the engine bay and promoting more efficient airflow through the intercooler and radiator. 

With the 300 miles I’ve put on the car, I can already see a huge difference in normal operating temps.  Maybe more vents are in the works? 😉 Oh and shout out to @mz_rawr (Aaron Maves) for cutting holes in my hood.

CorkSport Mazdaspeed 3 Transmission Mount Blog

In the process of getting the engine and transmission together, I wanted to fix a 2nd gear drop out issue I had.  Over a weekend @thatonepnwguy (Bryce Peterson) and I split my transmission and replaced the shift forks.  We certainly did it the wrong way and had to chase some balls around and get them back into their respective locations; despite all that, don’t be afraid to tear into things and learn the hard way. 

How To Achieve 400 WHP In Your Mazdaspeed Blog

The powerplant made it in the car and is running great.  Right now I’ve got about 300 miles on the engine.  I’ve been working out some little details with heat management and setup of the Vacuum Pump (WTF is THAT).  I am just now starting to do logs and tuning with Will Dawson at Purple Drank Tuning.  With these goals, I still intend to keep the car street legal and driven on a nearly daily basis (I wish you could see the stares I get from people).  I’m putting this out to all of you as an invite to follow along with the build on Instagram @halfmilespeed3.  All the inside info and goodies are there for you to see along with @corksport for other stories and build updates.  I’m stoked for this season and to explore a racing series that has largely been untouched by the Mazdaspeed community.  I will be finding limits and new challenges for the platform that I hope to overcome.