3rd Time’s the Charm

We all know the saying the 3rd time is the charm and this year’s SCCA National Championship Runoffs was no exception to the rule.  The past 2 runoffs I have not made it to the finish.  In 2016 at Mid-O I was hit on the first lap and punctured my left front tire.  At Indy, I retired as we developed a fault in the ECU from some beta software we were running and the car dropped into limp mode and I wasn’t able to maintain full throttle.  

We have been working on the brakes for the past 3 years and during the season it limited us from running the car as much as we like.  We have also been chasing a fault/error with the ECU/control system of the car. We were still able to get the car enough starts and race finishes to get qualified for the runoffs in Sonoma.   Granted the car was not happy at most of those races and it was a struggle to get the finish.

2 weeks before the runoffs we sorted out the ECU problem and were confident enough in the car to race it.  The backup plan was to race my Spec Miata if we couldn’t get the Mazda 3 fixed as I ran it this past season as well and had enough starts/races.

With the Runoffs at Sonoma it was within 1-day driving distance unlike the past 3 runoffs at Daytona, Mid Ohio, and Indy so I got to try out the new (to me) truck and trailer.

I had raced at Sonoma one time prior, so the track wasn’t totally unknown like Mid-O and Indy, which all I had was simulator time so I was able to get up to speed quickly on a test day and find out what I needed to work on for chassis setup and driving.  The driving was easy to adjust, look at the data, see where the driver was sucking and had to man up to keep a foot to the floor in some sketchy corners.

The car, on the other hand, had what we call “a good problem to have”, too much power.  We have been running a torsen style differential in the car which works pretty good in a straight line and relatively flat tracks.  Sonoma is not a flat track which unloads the car 3-4 times per lap. With the Mazda 3 and the amount of torque it makes means I was unloading the tire enough for it to spin the inside tire.  Most people think what is the big deal with a little tire wheel spin? It is a problem when you enter turn 10 at Sonoma at 97MPH and you start lighting off your right front tire. Look at the picture below and you can see that front inside tires is barely on the ground and the rear isn’t.  The speedometer would jump around and you could see the right front wheel speed turning at 5-10 mph more in the data.

We tried several suspension changes and driving style changes to make the best of it but in the end, we were way off the pace by 2-3 seconds of the rear wheel drive cars in the class.

The good part about not being at the front of the field, there was zero stress when race day came.

Like any race there was a fun challenge, we would be heading into turn 2 blind as the race was at 4 pm in the afternoon and the sun would be shining directly down the hill.  Since I wanted to see the end of the race I a little cautious at the start and Ali in the other Mazda 3 got around me at the start.

We fought it out for 8 laps and he went into turn 6 too hot and I was able to get under him and pass him on the inside.

After a few laps I put a 4-5 second lead on Ali I was basically in no man’s land, slower than the front guys and faster than the back half of the field so I spent my time working on tire management (it is easy to overheat your left front tire at Sonoma) and made it to the end of the race.

My official finishing place was 10th but after some adventures in tech, I was moved to 9th in the final results.  This isn’t where I wanted to be by any means but the 3rd time was the charm and I made it to the end of the race.

Huge thanks to the support we get racing the car from CorkSport, BFGRacing, Monarch Inspections, G-Loc Brakes, and Mazda Motorsports.

 

Derrick Ambrose

What’s Racing Got To Do With It?

Looking from the outside, racing really doesn’t make much sense. You spend a bunch of money to win some trophies, which are nowhere near as valuable as the money spent on the racing to get it. This leaves most people asking “why?”

I’m here to explain why the people at CorkSport spend the time and energy to go racing.

First, we get access to world-class drivers. I’m not saying I’m not a decent driver, but I’m always learning, just like the best drivers out there. The best example we have is recently hiring pro driver Kenton Koch to do development work on our 2016 Miata suspension.

If you haven’t heard his name, you should by now. He’s a Mazda development driver and he’s won the Skip Barber Series Championship, Skip Barber Mazdaspeed Series Championship, Battery Tender MX-5 Cup Championship, and this last year, the IMSA Prototype Lights Champtionship. This year at the Rolex 24hour in Daytona, Kenton was part of a JDC-Miller PC team that won their class and the first race in the Patron Endurance Championship. This was also the first time he’d raced this car against other competitors. So you can say Kenton is good.

Kenton Koch Daytona Win

The second thing about racing is you’ll break and wear out parts. If you’re not wearing out parts, you’re not pushing the car hard enough and you’re officially a Sunday driver. Brakes, tires, suspension, and motor components are exposed to the worst conditions while racing. A recent example was when I raced at Daytona for the SCCA runoffs. We raced our 2015 Mazda 3 2.5 with all of our parts for an entire week. Every lap we hit a top speed of 139mph, hammering the brake to make corner 1. The intake and exhaust got a massive workout dealing with the full throttle driving for extended periods of time on the embankment of the oval. The CorkSport springs and swaybar were pounded over the curbs on the infield and the bus stop. The end result of the race weekend was zero problems with our parts, even in a worst-case environment.

2016-02-02-hale-motorsports

The third reason is just as compelling to me as the first two reasons: you learn. When I head to the track, I make sure I have a goal in mind of what I want to accomplish ahead of time. For this upcoming year, CorkSport is an associate sponsor of Hale Motorsports Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car effort with two MX-5 TC classed cars and a very familiar Mazda 2 TC B-Spec, which CorkSport built and raced. I’ve signed on to be a crew chief for the car driven by Joey Jordan, who piloted the CorkSport Mazda 2 last year to four straight 1st place finishes at the end of the Pirelli World Challenge season. We also have a future star in the making. Henry Morse will be driving the Mazda 2 for this season as well, which makes for a busy schedule.

My goal for the season is to develop the skills to operate at the highest level needed by a crew chief in strategy, drive prep, team communications, and operations. Each one of these items is essential inside a team to be effective and win a championship.

Now that you know, what do you think? Do you understand why we race? Feel free to post your comments here on the blog and I’ll make sure I reply back personally.

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

What to do During Racing Off-Season

Racing season is officially over. What do you do when it's the off-season?

The conclusion of the SCCA runoffs came in late September and the NASA western conference is all wrapped up. We’re approaching a horribly sad time of the year for us folk in the north: the racing off-season. Here in Washington, it gets a little bit colder and a whole lot wetter. The days get shorter and the racecars get put into the garages. Except for rally, that stuff goes on all year round because they’re bosses. But all in all, the season dies down.

I personally like to take this time to work on all those little projects I’ve been putting off during the summer months. That engine you were going to rebuild or those quarter panels you said you would paint and fix.

For the enthusiast, the off-season is a good time to bring your ride back up to where you want it to be. For the racer, the off-season is a great time to sit down, plan, and make a strategy for the up-and-coming season. It’s a good time to think about your goals for next year and plan out what races you wish to attend.

As much as I love racing, you still need to make good memories with friends and family that put up with your hobbies. So slow down and enjoy the holidays. Spend time with your friends and family because when summer rolls back around, your best friend becomes your steering wheel. And yes, those are chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Take the off-season of racing to appreciate your family and plan your next season.
Photo Credit: gallery.asiaforest.org

So guys, what do you like to do in the off-season when you’re not driving the racecar as much? What plans do you have this winter? Share them with us and maybe I can try something new.

Cheers,

Vincent

Winner of the Drive to Win Giveaway

Who doesn’t like a giveaway? Free stuff is always a good idea.

Last week, we ran our Drive to Win with CorkSport giveaway where our Facebook fans entered by uploading a picture of their Mazda in action. Autocross, racing on the track, drag strip, hill climb, and rally cross pictures were all acceptable entries. The winner was chosen at random and will receive a CorkSport swag bag.

Congratulations to our winner, Cody Allington! His shot features him and his girl, Marisa, having some fun on the track.

Drive to Win WINNER Cody Allington
WINNER Cody Allington at the track.

We had to throw in a few of our other favorite shots and racing stories. See them all on our Facebook page.

slaying the dragon Chris Milton Brandon Chap and Cezary Koral
Chris Milton, Brandon Chap, and Cezary Koral slaying the dragon.
Niclas Swahn with his CorkSport equipped Mazda msp on a track in Sweden.
Niclas Swahn with his CorkSport equipped Mazda msp on a track in Sweden.
Bret Nicoletti with his dog car aka #rooneyspeed RD3 at Global Time Attack around Willow Springs International Raceway.
Bret Nicoletti with his dog car aka #rooneyspeed RD3 at Global Time Attack around Willow Springs International Raceway.

We have a feeling this isn’t our last giveaway… stay tuned.

Cheers,

CorkSport

Journey to the Perfect Race Car

For those of you who don’t know me, or frankly have no idea who I am, I’m Vincent and I’m part of the CorkSport team. If there’s one thing you should know about Vincent, it’s that he likes to race.

Start racing with the help of CorkSport.

I’m a huge fan of sports car racing and pretty much anything that includes four wheels, an engine, and high speeds. Another thing you should know is that I’m still fairly new to the Pacific Northwest. I moved up here almost 10 months ago to work for the great Mazda company, CorkSport. In an effort to spread my wings and make my way to Vancouver, some sacrifices had to be made. The biggest was selling my race car.

Discover Vincent's journey to his new race car with the help of CorkSport.

I’ve been lucky to have owned a few good Mazdas and some other cars. I’ve been even luckier to have been able to compete with these cars, including my import drag racing Mitsubishi Eclipse and my HPDE Mazdaspeed Protege. But when I moved, they had to stay behind and find a new home. So I was left lonely. Alone, sad, and with a desire to get back on the circuit, I went on the hunt to find a new race car to compete with. Of course until I get my hands on a third generation Mazdaspeed 3. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to go far. Literally not far at all. I’m talking two desks over to our co-owner and fellow racer Mr. Derrick Ambrose, or as I like to call him Mr. Derrick. We’re polite here at CorkSport.

Tucked away in the back of his garage was a familiar face to anyone who has been around CorkSport over the years. That familiar face was a 1999 Mazda Protege with a little P5 front end action.

Vincen't new CorkSport powered race car.

The old CS drag car was a little aged, a little dirty, and begging for a new life. Needless to say, I found myself my new race car. She had already been gutted and caged so the hard parts were done. With a new engine and transmission, it was in a good state to get finished up. Just a few odds and ends here and there and possibly a fresh wrap, and then she will be good to get on the track in no time.

I still haven’t decided what class of sports car racing I want to compete in. I’m thinking simple like PTE in NASA or maybe H-production in SCCA. What entry level club racing appeals to you guys the most?

Cheers,

Vincent