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.


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.



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.



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?



Become a Racecar Driver with Mazda

So you want to become a professional racecar driver. Awesome plan, I mean who doesn’t right? But where do you start? The answer is Mazda.

Mazda can help you become the race car driver you always wanted to be.
Image via Road & Track

Hop on Craigslist and start looking for a car. You’re going to need a good solid platform to start with and something that’s easy to work on. A car that is relatively inexpensive, easy to find parts for, super reliable, and can give you the best driving experience along with great aftermarket support for future upgrades. BAM you just bought your ‘91 Miata racecar. A car that has everything you need and then some.

First things first, you need to make sure it’s safe and in tiptop shape to handle the abuse you’re about to put on it. Go on the hunt for pieces you need to replace like brake pads, shocks, and maybe a wheel bearing or two. Don’t settle for some cheap aftermarket pieces. You are going to be racing this car and don’t want to lose a track weekend because of premature part failure. You need OEM top notch quality.

Mazda was the first company to offer a support program for their grassroots racers. The Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development program sells OEM parts to drivers at cost in order to keep them on the track longer. If you provide them with at least two current race results within the past 12 months you can join the program and reap the benefits they have to offer. Along with parts, you also have access to trained employees and other racers who can provide help and guidance.

Once the car is ready to go, you need a place to go racing. Mazda has partnerships with some of the largest sanctioned racing bodies such as SCCA Solo, NASA, and SCCA Club Racing. With over 20,000+ racers, it’s easy to see why more Mazdas are raced on any given weekend than any other brand in the world.

So you have been racing for a year or two and you’re ready to take it to the next level. Introducing the Mazda driver development ladder system, the one and only true program to help guide you from the grassroots level of club racing to the high ranks of Indy lights. If you really have what it takes, the skill and the character that Mazda embodies, you may be lucky enough to find yourself in the cockpit of a Mazda prototype racing in the Tudor United Sports Car Championships, the most prestigious road racing campaign in North America.

Mazda driver development ladder helps drivers pursue their dream of racing.
Image via Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development

We all know racing is expensive. The cost of gas, food, entry fees, and travel can add up quickly during a regular season. Who can help you pay for these things? Mazda of course. As a competitor in the Mazda ladder system, you have the ability to compete and earn scholarships worth thousands of dollars to help you pursue your dreams. Imagine winning the run-offs or the MX-5 cup and being awarded $75,000 to help fund your racing expenses. Now that’s what I call support.

Mazda also created the R.A.C.E program in 2014 to help motivate and engage the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals. They dedicated a whole program to developing young minds and helping them pursue their dreams even if it has nothing to do with racing cars. You can’t tell me that is not cool.

Mazda is the true racers brand. From mentoring to scholarships to the various after school programs they have invested in, no one is as committed to the driver as Mazda is. They breed the next generation of racers. A brand built by the people for the people. The reason #DrivingMatters.

Happy racing,




Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Corksport Version



Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Corksport Version

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that some new parts soon would be there.

The Car guy was comfy and snug in his bed,
While visions of racetracks looped in his head.
The Mazda in park, the keys tucked away,
Just one more night of sleep,
then we’ll all race away.

When out of the blue, a thought came to mind,
why on earth is he waiting?

Let’s go for a drive!
He grabbed up the keys, woke the girl with a shout
Hey baby, it’s Christmas and we’re headed out!
The family forgotten and plans set aside
We’re headed to the track, let’s go for a drive.

It was simple and planned, so quickly it seemed,
in her sleepy state
it seemed just a dream.
Okay mister, whatever you say.
She slipped on her slippers and they were on their way.

Car guy beamed from head to toe,
he knew their destination
just one place to go.
The track wasn’t far, and the traffic was light, This will be the best Present
Such a simple delight!

No family, no mess, no ties and no dress,
Just you and me girl, this 1 time request.

They got to the track in no time at all,
Sparkling white on the ground just a light snow fall
When over to his right something caught his eye
“We’re not alone” thought the Car guy
Of course to his wondering eyes there appeared
An old style sleigh being pulled by reindeer?
He tossed it in gear to confirm his delight
He shook his head, disbelief at the sight

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
He knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than mustangs as drivers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!

Don’t over do it boys! Steer clear of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

They were so quick, so fast, as if they could fly,
Car guy thought to himself, perhaps we should try.
Revving the engine he pulled right on through
To the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

The smile and twinkle in that old mans eye
Made car guy grin and look to the sky.
No flying, not crashing, we’ll take on the course
The old man smiled, do you know of this force?

A simple nod of his head is all it took
He looked over the sleigh and each tiny hoof.
Carguy turned and looked over his opponent,
Just giving in to this memorable moment.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had sorted in the back,
he looked like a veteran, he could drive ’round this track.

His eyes ­how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

You know what to do Car guy said to his girl,
She hopped right out and gave her scarf a twirl.
On three boys, please be safe and be clean
She raised it in the air, how fitting it’s green.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Old Saint Nick might be something to dread.
His whip in hand, he gave it a crack,
And off they went, leaving behind the toy sack.

The wind blowing through that snowy white beard,
Carguy could hear the sound of the cold in his ears.
Jingling as they went, the sleigh in tow,
The reindeer were fast, damn car is feeling slow.
Curses thought Carguy as he slammed on the gas,
I want to beat him, we need to be fast.

He awoke with a start, to the sound of her voice,

Knock it off Carguy or I’ll give you a choice.
To the couch with you if you can’t control,
Your twitching and turning and stupid body roll.
He laughed to himself, of course just a dream,
But what’s in his hand, a scarf of green?

He went to the window and looked into the night
He heard the jingle and saw a plain sight
There he was right there in the drive,
St Nick and his sleigh, of course he’s alive.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yell,
Get on it boys, we won, all is well.
Carguy shook his head and laughed at it all,
He would swear that he saw,

St Nick and his reindeer give him the “paw”
Carguy learned something that‘s true,
Don’t race Santa and his eight reindeer crew.
He looked into the sky, to see them in flight
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good­night!”

Kim Russell-01

Hitting the Track

The time had come to see what the Mazda 2 could do at the track. The race weekend I signed up for was the Oregon Region SCCA April Showers Event which was a two day race. Each day there was a 20 minute qualifying session in the morning and a 25 minute race in the afternoon.

With the car being brand new to the race track, there were a few extras which were required so I showed up early. I had to get the Mazda 2 a log book and the car received a full tech inspection which included checking out the cage and safety equipment which takes some extra time. The car passed with flying colors and the cage received lots of compliments on the design and quality of the installation.

Saturday morning was looking like it would be a raining all day but the clouds cleared up and the sun came out in time for the new race slicks to be installed. This was the first time I had driven the 2 on a race compound tire which was an interesting experience. I let the tires warm up for the first lap of qualifying before I really started pushing the tires. The level of grip with the BF Goodrich R1S tires is outstanding on the 2. I was able to increase my speed through the corners as the qualifying session when on. I was able to drop the lap times from a 1:46 to a 1:40 which is a good start.

Out of the 23 cars which were in the run group I qualified 15th overall. Considering the cars in the run group this wasn’t too bad, 8 Porsches, a 350Z, a couple of STL and STU miatas, and 1976 HP Rabbit driven by Monte Shelton. Behind me were an ITJ Mazda Rx7 and a Ford Maverick and a few Porsches which finished less laps during the qualifying session. The Rx7 was the closest car in group to the Mazda 2, it was faster on the straights but the 2 was better in the corners. The maverick was really fast in the straights but horrible in the corners making it difficult to get around because it was all over the place.

We lined up Saturday afternoon and the race went as expected. There were two slower cars behind me as the faster cars slowly pulled away…ok, the Porsche GT3 disappeared really quick. He completed 18 laps to my 15 lap, due to a 20 second faster lap time. During the race I discovered several of the Porsches were slower than the Mazda 2 in corners. There were a few times when they would try to pull away in the corners and would get squirrely and have to slow down so I could get closer. Once the straights came up they would disappear down the track again and I would be back to checking my mirrors for the next fast car to come up on me again. The result of the first race in the 2 was 15th overall. The lap times were slower during the race which was a surprise to me. With letting the faster cars go past you give up some speed around the track.

On Sunday our run group was merged with another since there were only 3 cars running in the group. One of the more notables was a tube frame SPO Panoz which was running close to the same lap times as the Porsche GT3. Qualifying was improved over the day earlier, the lap times were consistently in the 1:42s to 1:40s with a best time of 140.527. The qualifying location came up 15th again in the run group with the ITJ Rx7 behind me again.

The race on Sunday was a smaller group as we lost a few cars in the morning qualifying. A bmw lost a connecting rod bearing and a few vehicle break downs which took out a few more cars. The race had 17 cars in it which gave more time for speed and less time getting out-of-the-way of the faster cars. The race itself has some interesting points. During the second lap the Panoz pulled off the track on a side road with the race being over. There was a 944 turbo which also suffered a failure and did not finish either. One of the laps one of the faster Porsches was catching up to me on the front straight. I had been working on braking into the corners later and later. With the approaching speed of the car I knew he wanted to get in front of me before the chicane. He found out that I could brake 100 feet later than he could as I watched him disappear from my vision on my right and I went through the corner first. It was an interesting feeling of satisfaction as I let him past me into corner 4 and I stuck with him through the rest of the corners until the straight came up again and he pulled away. The overall result from the race was 14th place overall.

The whole experience was a great first event and I learned a ton about the Mazda 2 and its characteristics at the limit. My goal for the next time out is to get the 2 into the 1:39s.


Pictures courtesy of Illiad Boyce and video courtesy of Brendan Hughes. Thank you both for the support and the footage!

Team Van Herck Mazda 3 Update – Belgian Touring Car Series 2011

In May of this year, Derrick put up a blog post titled, Mazdas Racing Around the World, and gave you a preview of the Van Herck Mazda 3 that is now competing in the 2011 Belgian Touring Car Series. As promised, we are posting updates on their progress, successes, and standings throughout the season.

As a refresher from the May 6th post, Van Herck raced the Mazda RX-7 in previous years, but for the 2011 season, the team chose to build a new car to compete in the Belgian Touring Series. They took over a year to develop a Mazda 3 with advanced technology. They converted it to rear wheel drive, and powered it with a 450whp 20B tri-rotor Wankel engine and a sequential 6 speed gearbox.

On April 10th the Mazda 3 20B competed in round 1 of the Belgian Touring Car Series at Zolder. As the car’s debut event, it encountered a few minor glitches with the fuel system and an overheating exhaust, and finished 26th out of 31 cars entered in the 90 min race, but the Mazda 3 20B captivated spectators with its overwhelming speed and racing rotary sound. The car was watched closely by competitors after receiving the 5th fastest time overall against the lightweight silhouette cars and the second-quickest time in its class.

The Belgian Touring Car series will include three races scheduled for the Spa-Francorchamps, the first of which was held last Sunday, the Spa-Francorchamps 12hour BTCS race. Considered one of the most challenging race tracks in the world, mainly due to its fast, hilly and twisty nature, the Spa is a circuit favorite by many racing drivers and fans. (Take a one lap tour of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps)

During qualifying for the T3 class, pole position went to the Mazda3 of Van Herck Racing. The Mazda took pole in T3 in the second qualifying session from the W Racing Team’s VW Scirocco, which caught fire after the checkered flag was thrown.

Race day brought with it a traditional feature at the Spa, black clouds and rain. The rain had eased up by the afternoon, but the majority of the cars started on wet weather tires, and the forecast was for more rain. So with rain feared in the afternoon session, the majority of the teams set their best times in the first qualifying session.

Runners-up in the championship last year, the Volvo S60 Racing Team won the 12 Hours of Spa after a close battle with the three time champion, Frederic Bouvy’s Renault Megane. Kia Belgium took up the third position. Though the qualifying race put the Van Herck team in good position, the Mazda suffered from some electronic issues during the race.

CorkSport will continue to watch the team’s progress through the season and keep you up to date on the latest news from the Van Herck Racing Team.