Boosted Down the Rabbit Hole

“Intake, test pipe, and a tune ONLY” was my mantra.  I’d just bought a shiny new ’13 tech package VRM MazdaSpeed3 with the extended warranty, 3 miles on the odometer as it rolled off the lot for the test drive.  Via the web forums (back when MSF was still popular), I had performed my due diligence in terms of where I was headed with this ride. I knew what my mods would be, the results to expect, and even learned a bit about the tuning process, all with the intent to “stock out” in less than an hour in the event I broke something on the car.

But… the local Nator chapter wrapped their slithering hentai tentacles around me, and those thoughts of a mildly tuned car with the manners fully intact started to erode.  The friends, the fun, and the performance results were an instant addiction.

In just a few short months I had sold that warranty back and started down the rabbit hole.  Trips to Epic NATOR Meets were a terribly awesome influence, seeing cars on the bleeding edge of the DISI Mazdaspeed platform, and meeting several of the prominent people in the Mazda community that were so forthcoming with their knowledge.  The hook was set!

I found myself pursuing information, and if there wasn’t any data to be had, I wanted to make it myself.  I tested and cataloged a variety of items, from NVH with motor mounts to compression test compendiums (yes Cylinder 3, you deserve that BAD rap!), meanwhile moving along the mod path to a medium turbo, front mount intercooler, and a methanol kit.  Once I purchased a spare long block, I knew I was getting in ball-joints deep.

Fast forward to today.  I’ve been very fortunate to be chosen to test products for a handful of vendors!  With an aligned focus – direct fit or minimal fabrication parts – I’ve reached my (probably temporary) goal of 500 wheel horsepower! Where I’ve tested the limits of products/parts for many companies – whether they have asked me to or not. The CorkSport 3.5 Bar Map Sensor is a solid example of exceeding the envelope, as I did manage to over boost while playing with my EBCS configuration, and pegging it at 37.58 PSI. (At 900 ft. ASL)

 Corksport asked me to describe my modification journey and how their beta parts have impacted my build and decisions, so there is no slight intended to the multitude of other people involved in my project – that list is not short.

I’ve run the Corksport intake manifold for nearly 2 years and just prior to the big turbo transition.  

  • It gained 12 g/s flow on the identical tune and no other modifications, so I knew it was an immediate upgrade.
  • I’ve been hammering  30+psi through it for the majority of that time, and my built engine is approaching 25 thousand miles with that duress.  
  • The spark plugs have been pristine and uniform, indicating to me the flow is balanced in the runners.  
  • There is no better fitting upgrade intake manifold for the platform.  

The beta-testing portion of this journey has been pretty awesome. Constant emails and conversations back and forth with the CorkSport Engineering team, and support from installation, to checking in periodically afterward to see how the system is running and the part is performing for me and my particular set-up. I understand that I am not the only one to have been running this part as a beta-tester, which just shows how thorough this company is with it’s beta-testing.

Barett, the CorkSport engineer, was probably annoyed with the ‘data-whore’ aspect of who I am, but man was it fun! Tracking my progress throughout, and sending info back and forth fed the logical performance driven sides of me for quite a while.

The manifold was recently combined with the Corksport 72mm throttle body, which takes advantage of the IM’s oversized opening, which I feel will scale up with even more power should I get the itch for ludicrous speed.  There is zero loss of drivability with the TB mimicking the factory unit electronics and nothing for your tuner to battle with like the old days of trying to open up that choke point.

While it’s usually about performance parts for me, I have to say that I run a few of the CorkSport “comfort” pieces and can genuinely say they are worth the investment. The CorkSport Performance Steering Wheel is just amazing! The contoured grips are a tremendous comfort for long drives, and the beefy upper section is awesome for the twisties in roads like the “Tail of the Dragon” in NC. It’s also shown no signs of wear in the last 2 years, and I look forward to driving with it for many years to come.

I was lucky enough to get the CorkSport Hood Strut kit when they were available, and now my hood opens significantly more than the prop rod and facilitates installing those go fast bits. (Hopefully, CorkSport gets wise and brings them back for sale again).

I would like to thank Corksport for giving me the opportunity to test their parts, in addition to many others, and YOU for taking the time to read my cool story, bro!

Spread the boost – there is no vaccine!

Jason

WHY GET INVOLVED IN THE MAZDA COMMUNITY?!

A car club by any other name is just a group of enthusiasts getting together to celebrate their gains, reach out for support, gather advice and inspiration, and ultimately find a reason to connect.

With Mazda clubs, specifically Nator Clubs, there is a LOT more to it than just the benefit to you as a single person.

We recently sent Kim out to the Epic Nator Meet in Robbinsville, NC, to ride the trail of the dragon, reach out to the Mazda community, and just generally bring her personality to ignite the shenanigans at the event. If you’ve ever had the “pleasure” of meeting or hanging out with Kim, you know what we’re talking about. You never know what will be said, how loud it will get, or how late into the night the event will go… especially if there’s a campfire.

She came back with some good info, great shots, and some awesome stories that reignite our LOVE of the NATOR MAZDASPEED CLUB and the Mazda community as a whole!

From the moment she started to plan her drive from Richmond, VA, she was able to connect with a fellow west coast transplant, and make the drive in her rental following the Mazdaspeed booty. Stopping for coffees, food, and to refuel it was an awesome drive all the way to Robbinsville, NC.

Pulling in, the hotel parking lot was already full of Mazda’s, and what a sight for sore eyes it was! Good friends from Canada, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, and so many other places! For those who had come in during the week, running the Tail of the Dragon had still not gotten old, and Mazdaspeeds were coming back from mid-day runs for dinner.

Nights filled with good friends, talk of cars, and connecting to just catch up were the basis of the meet, and hopping from one car to the next to get feedback and different set-ups and parts was awesome! No need to drive the Dragon in a rental when there are so many built Mazdas around!

We got reports of the spirit of the Nator Mazda community still being alive! With part swaps and repairs in the parking lot – all hands on deck, pickups on trailers for those with bigger issues, and unfortunately we saw the spirit of Nator in having one another’s backs as people as well! From fender benders to a hospital run to keep our squad safe and healthy!

There is nothing, and we mean it, absolutely nothing better than seeing what the Mazdaspeed Nator club is capable of when it comes to supporting one another, donating to a cause or raffle, and just genuinely having a great time!

Keep an eye out, as we will be sharing about our trip to the Mazda Takeover Event in Idaho very soon, and hosting our own event at the end of summer. There is very little that tops the feeling of being connected to a core group of Mazda enthusiasts, and from West coast to East coast, we do our best to stay connected and keep the spirit of the Mazda Community running deep!

Until next time, stay safe, stay fast, and stay happy my friends!

 

Top Five Stereotypes… It’s all about the Mazda Enthusiasts We’ve Met

Roasting the Top Five Car Guy Stereotypes…it’s all about the Mazda Enthusiasts We’ve met…

The friends I want to talk about are your Mazda Event friends. Likely, you know them from your Nator club, Mazda club, or local car community, and truth be told they often fall into pretty great stereotypes of “Car Guy”.

Ready to have some fun…Let’s Roast ‘em!

The Newbie

This Guy is new to the Mazdaspeed/Mazda scene. He doesn’t know a ton about his car, it’s capabilities, and some of us would like to give a couple driving lessons to him first. He has big dreams for his Mazda and has a full wish-list of parts to prove it.

We can’t hate on this guy too much, because we all start somewhere, but the amount of time it takes to get him up to speed on acronyms, lingo, and basic tools isn’t always worth it. You would rather just do the work for him yourself so you can trust it’s done right. He’s a great guy, and will eventually be an awesome full member of the Mazda club, but he has some growing to do…

The Know it all

This Mazda Guy just NEVER SHUTS UP… whether he is right or wrong, he always has something to say and will stick to his opinions regardless of being proved wrong. He’s nice enough to hang out with, but we all avoid having strong opinions with him… it’s a guaranteed disaster.

These Guys end up spinning out of the group or buying a new (non-Mazda) vehicle, either way, they don’t make friends easily, and we often don’t get together and hang out without them on purpose.

The Actually DOES know it all Guy

Ironically enough the “Actually does know it all Guy” often speaks the least in the group. Having learned from experience, they set back and watch some people make fools of themselves and others take the hard path to learning. Always there to lend a helping hand when something does go wrong, and offer up advice when it’s requested in a respectful manner, this guy is it a DIY mechanic and has no trouble getting his hands dirty for his friends…

Arguably the best Guy of the stereotypes and genuinely a great resource for the Mazda and Mazdaspeed community.  A true influencer and most likely a beta tester.

 

The Not So Great with People Guy

There is often this guy at car meets. He’s not great with people, especially girls, and even more especially with new people he’s quiet. He’s necessary to the club because he truly does have one of the best rides there are, and it inspires us all to push our capabilities. He can drive the sh*t out of his Mazdaspeed, is seemingly fearless when it comes to speed and handling, and is always willing to talk like a savant when it comes to his build, driving style, and dream car plans.

Talk cars or parts and you’ve got this guys attention, try to talk about anything else and you can see the glaze come over his eyes as he takes another drink from his beverage of choice…and dreams about a BIGGER and BETTER MAZDA.

The Guy Who Always Breaks Down

Whether at the track, a long drive, or auto crossing, every time we get together this Guy is going to break something, or completely break down. More often than not it comes down to just plain crappy luck, so we all do our best to pitch in and help him get things fixed before we head out. “Never leave a man behind” means we’re often out at all hours in an abandoned parking lot or garage trying to get him back on the road again!

We wish this guy’s luck would change… especially because we’re always there trying to help fix it…

I know there are plenty of other stereotypical car guys, and heck there are even stereotypes for the Car Girls out there. I cannot wait to see you ROAST your friends in the comments…perhaps without even telling them which type of Guy you’re accusing them of falling under.

Until next time, whichever Guy you are, stay safe, stay happy, and stay fast my friends!

-Kim

A List of Your Local NATOR Communities – What Makes Us Family

Ever wondered how to connect with your local Mazda crews and clubs?

Or have you ever gotten connected and then lost your ride somehow? For some of us it’s a crash, others of us sell our beloved Mazda and aim at our next dream car, or heck, even the necessary minivan.

What happens then? Not only did you lose your favorite car, but seemingly you lost out on the community as well. Does it make sense to show up to your favorite meets if you no longer drive the “proper” vehicle?

When it comes to the Nator groups, the love is still there regardless of what your next ride.

According to Micha Fullen, this is exactly how it goes; and it’s about so much more than the cars themselves:

“While at the annual Midwest meet this year in St Louis Missouri, washing my hair in the shower I had a thought, “Micha, why do you still come to this event when you don’t even own a Mazdaspeed anymore?”

I told myself, that being a Mazdaspeed owner past, present or future, is like being in a family. Especially when you involve yourself in the community and clubs that are offered throughout the country. Me, I’m a Nator Guy.

Year after year, we collectively travel thousands of miles to attend an event centered around vehicles that some of us don’t even own anymore. It’s crazy huh? Do the same thing, show up without owning the ‘correct’ Model Vehicle, at a VW or Honda meet and you get blacklisted and shunned.

Mazdaspeed owners don’t kick you out, or tell you that you shouldn’t be there. We just call each other; funny, and sometimes very rude, names. Then ask to race your new vehicle on a track, dragstrip or parking lot.  (More recently it’s been even helpful to all of them that I bought a truck… because we all know with spirited driving, and some showing off, something is bound to go wrong)

 I am closer to my Mazdaspeed family than I am to my own. This has been true since I bought my Speed 3 Jun of 2011. I had some problems with my car(s) and my Mazdaspeed (Nator) family came to my aid. But when that same family had problems of their own, I drove many miles or sometimes across multiple states to help them.

Corksport goes out of their way to attend these events. Not so much pushing parts, but to welcome family with open arms and stay connected to the grass roots of our community.

I met Barrett this year and even having never talked to him, he was the top 3 nicest dudes I have ever met. He got involved and talked shop with the majority of everyone in attendance. Kim is also a major voice in the community, listening to what the people want and bouncing ideas off of people to find how CorkSport can continuously push and evolve in this platform. She shows up to multiple events a year, stays in contact even throughout the winter and is always helping her “brothers and sisters” with their own endeavors, even if it doesn’t involve Corksport.

This year, if you were at the Midwest meet, you would see that a good majority of people have moved on to new platforms, specifically the new ecoboost options from Ford being very popular. Adrienne K with her Focus RS, Matt D with his FoST and Ryan P with his brand new FiST, and myself, I went way to the left with the new Raptor (Hey it has 2 turbos mmmmmkay).

It doesn’t matter what happens in your life, or even if you have moved on, we all got our start with Mazdaspeeds and we always stick with Family.”

As you see, being a Mazda owner is about the community, the family, the connection to other Mazdaspeed Enthusiasts.

And being an enthusiast isn’t always defined by the fact you still own a Mazda. It’s defined by being a car family. There may be groups that require you to own a Mazda to show up, but when it comes to Nator, once a Mazdaspeed Nator Family member, always one.

If you’re curious about where to connect, who to reach out to, or how to get in touch with your local Mazda club, check out the list below.

While we would love for this list to be exhaustive, it’s not, so if you’re currently involved in a club not listed, please let us know and we’ll be sure to make it easier for other CorkSport followers to connect with your group!

Download PDF of List:  NATOR Clubs List

CorkSquad https://www.facebook.com/groups/1634041806878345/ Savannah GA
Souther Street Crew https://www.facebook.com/groups/454444514600458/ GA
MMOC https://www.facebook.com/groups/MIMazda/ Michigan
ClubMPS https://www.facebook.com/groups/clubmpsnz/ New Zealand
LVMazdas https://www.facebook.com/groups/LVMazdas Las Vegas
NoVA Mazdaclub https://www.facebook.com/groups/321399927926454 VA
Mazda MIata Mx5 WA/OR https://www.facebook.com/groups/1698103380420298 WA/OR
Mazda Militia https://www.facebook.com/groups/mazdamilitia WA
Nothern Mazda Militia https://www.facebook.com/groups/286006598276940
Texas Mazdaspeeds https://www.facebook.com/groups/TexasMazdaspeeds TX
PNW_Mazda https://www.facebook.com/groups/PNWMazda WA/OR
Mazda 3 Owners Australia https://www.facebook.com/groups/Mazda3OA AUS
Mazdas of Kileen/Ford Hood https://www.facebook.com/groups/texasspeeddemons TX
Nator Oregon https://www.facebook.com/groups/NatorOR OR
Nator TN/KY https://www.facebook.com/groups/206647016088166 TN/KY
Nator Oklahoma https://www.facebook.com/groups/NATOROK/ OK
Nator NC/SC https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Carolina/104083326294266 NC/SC
Nator Minnesota https://www.facebook.com/groups/NatorMinnnesota MN
Nator Georgia https://www.facebook.com/groups/163448653866393 GA
Nator Florida https://www.facebook.com/groups/1298072073575997/?ref=br_rs FL
Nator Missouri https://www.facebook.com/groups/natormo MO
Nator Arizona https://www.facebook.com/groups/708796579135806 AZ
Nator New Mexico https://www.facebook.com/groups/270637012974823 NM
Nator San Diego https://www.facebook.com/groups/natorsd/about/ CA
Nator DC Metro https://www.facebook.com/groups/147772498652109 DC
Nator WA https://www.facebook.com/groups/948847285235072 WA/OR
Nator WI https://www.facebook.com/groups/379868465454404 WI
Nator Chapter E https://www.facebook.com/groups/176597409073225/ FL
Nator New England https://www.facebook.com/groups/255796874460817 New Englan
Nator Houston Miata https://www.facebook.com/groups/446031202177809 TX
Mazda Owners of Nebraska https://m.facebook.com/groups/733704760063616 Nebraska
Speed Squad https://www.instagram.com/speedsquad.tm/ Quebec Canada
Mazda Flow London https://www.facebook.com/groups/934300966591060/ Ontario Canada

NATOR: The Pyramid Scheme You Want to Join

A look at the parking situation at a NATOR group meet up.
If you see a bunch of Mazdaspeeds by a garage, you’re probably looking at a NATOR group.

I’ll admit it up front: NATOR is a pyramid scheme. “What?!” you proclaim. “Isn’t NATOR like family? Who would do that to family?” Let me explain why and how you can become the next Platinum Emerald Neon Iridium special level NATOR member! But seriously, here’s what I’m talking about.

The beginnings of NATOR

Back in the early days of NATOR AL (AL for Alabama), all we had was a few people posting on MazdaSpeedForms.org (MSF) in the South East section. I was relatively new to wrenching, having only recently learned how to change my own oil (yes, I know) or install an intake. Some guy named Ryan invited a few of us to his apartment for burgers, wings (spoiler: the wings weren’t fully cooked), beer, and wrenching. The meet was only four people, but the spark was there. Many stories were traded, laughs were had, and plenty of beer was consumed.

Over the next year, we steadily grew and started really wrenching on cars. Our first big “project” was HPFP internal installs. Only Ryan had done them before. Tension was high for this (now) trivial install, but everything went smoothly. Quick pro tip: There’s no reason to pull the intake or battery box.

Now here’s where the pyramid scheme comes in: It’s about knowledge transfer instead of products or sales. Whereas Ryan was the self-proclaimed “Mazda master tech” that knew everything about working on Speeds, Jason and I quickly picked up the new skill and were able to do HPFP internals later without Ryan’s oversight.

NATOR groups are great for learning about all sorts of Mazdaspeed repairs and mods.
A NATOR teaching moment.

The benefits of NATOR communities

I can hear some of you now: “But Shane, HPFP internals are stupid easy.” And you’d be right. That’s exactly why it’s such a great thing to teach new guys that are timid with a wrench. Eventually, things such as intakes, test pipes, and internals were jobs that I didn’t have to participate in. This is when I realized the greatness of the NATOR pyramid scheme: If I teach someone what I know, then later I can sit back in a lawn chair drinking beer and not lift a finger at a meet. Over the years, I’ve seen countless people with no wrenching experience become comfortable working on their car by themselves. In one case, a member used his knowledge about starting an engine with no fuel pressure to reassure a friend working on a GTI that the car not immediately starting was due to pressure needing to build in the rail before it started cleanly.

Now, we haven’t simply stuck to the basic “intake, test pipe, tune” mods in AL. We’ve pretty much done everything performance-related there is to do on these cars. Countless turbo swaps, a handful of transmission jobs, engine swaps, head rebuilds, timing jobs, suspension swaps, interior gutting — all of these have been done in a NATOR AL garage.

A Mazdaspeed gets towed from a NATOR event.
The helping hand of a NATOR community.

One of the best parts of NATOR is that if you put in work helping someone else out, they’re willing to spend many weekends getting your car working again. We had a local member’s transmission die a horrendous death without any warning. He’d been at meets before and was always willing to lend a hand, so we offered to swap out his transmission. Five weeks, and a TON of fail later, he was back on the road as happy as could be.

Another great benefit is that the community is nationwide and international now. Twice a year, we do epic meets. One’s in April on the East Coast and the other is in late-August/early September in the Midwest. Enthusiasts from all over the country (plus some from Mexico, Canada, and even once someone from Germany) gather to celebrate these awesome cars and the community we’ve built around them.

Perhaps my favorite NATOR story was one involving the Epic Midwest NATOR Meet (EMWNM) in 2015. The meet was incredible with lots of great people attending, tons of alcohol was consumed, go-karts were raced, and many smiles were had. The conclusion of the meet was a track day on Monday at Autobahn Country Club. I spent the first two sessions feeling out the car and learning the track. On the third session, I was chasing down a BMW I had just let pass when I tried to accelerate out of the corner and got nothing. Seconds later, my oil light came on and I dove into the grass to (hopefully) save my engine. No luck … It spun a bearing.

After a very brief diagnostic session in the paddock, I asked a NATOR member if I could have my car towed to his house. He said “yes” immediately. I ordered an engine from Mazda Motorsports and was dropped off at the airport to catch a flight to get home for work. Fast forward three days later to Thursday, I arrive back in Chicago to an engine almost entirely out of the car. I literally took two clamps and a hose off the engine and it was free-hanging on the hoist. NATOR basically took my engine out of my car for me and then helped me put my new one in. Less than a week after I blew my engine, I was back on the road headed home thanks to this community.

A NATOR group in action at a local meet.
A NATOR group in action.

What happened to me (free engine removal) isn’t the norm, but I’d do the same for any of those guys should they ever break down in Alabama. And that’s what NATOR is about: helping a fellow Speed owner in need, whether that’s “I need parts” or “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

How to join NATOR

So how can you get in on this awesome pyramid scheme? Search MSF, MSO (mazdaspeeds.org), or Facebook and find your local NATOR and show up to meets. Heads-up: Local might mean a two- to four-hour drive. Bring food, beer, or tools if you have specialty stuff. Wrench on cars with the NATOR group, or if you aren’t skilled in that, be the guy who grabs tools or makes runs to the parts store. Ask questions to expand your knowledge. Take a new guy under your wing and teach him what you know. As you spend more time with your group, you’ll find others offering help or parts when you need it.

Cheers,

Shane Fry