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

5 Tracks every Mazda Owner Must Hit

5 Tracks every Mazda owner must hit in the US.

Hey guys, Vincent here and I’m currently sitting behind my desk waiting for the long summer days to return so that I can go lay out in the sun with my Mazda. 

Living on the west coast, we are pretty fortunate to have access to quite a few cool road race tracks up and down the I5. There is a good handful right in our backyard of Washington State a few in Oregon State and even one that is a city track and is all of 4 miles away. Yes that one kind of spoils us as Derrick himself has worked, drove there during lunch in his racecar, qualified for a race, and then drove back all in a matter of 45 minutes. I don’t care who you are that’s just bad ass.

As I was building some engines the other night, I got to thinking about all the cool tracks that I got to visit last year in 2017 and how many other cool ones I want to check out in 2018.

So, I decided to throw up my list of the top 5 tracks that I think every Mazda owner should drive in their lifetime. These tracks are not presented in any particular order, and I have only actually been to half of them. No right or wrong answers here but what follows is my list of 5 tracks I think you guys should all hit up. So strap in and let’s go racing.

I’ll start with the obvious here, and that’s the one that has our favorite manufacture in the title. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This track resides in the landscape of central California and has been around since the late 50’s. Known best for its infamous Corkscrew section this 11 turn race track is world famous, and you can’t play any racing video game or simulator without this track being one of the featured races. I haven’t done this one yet, but you better believe it’s on my bucket list. Fun fact, or perhaps sad fact, depending on how you look at it; Mazda will not be renewing its sponsorship this year with the world-famous race track. So that means starting in April that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will simply be known as Laguna Seca.

Next up is Road America. This one is a big one. Spanning over 4 miles long this is one of the longest road race courses across the World. The long straight that crosses the start-finish lets you put the pedal to the medal. I have seen many of cars run out of gearing on this long straight. That coupled with the fact that you have to go uphill first to start will really but that full load on your engine, but man is it fun.

For my next pick, I chose Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Reason for that is I found it to be one of the most challenging circuits that I have ever driven on. And by challenging I mean it eats brakes. Granted I was always in a car that was not particularly suited for this track I did always find this to be a tough course. It was always challenging to lay down a clean lap, but I learned a lot from having driven on this one. I recommend this one to anyone that wants to get some good experience and refine their skill.

This next one has some really cool history and an even cooler track surface. Opening up just a few years after the end of World War Sebring International Raceway is actually built on a converted airport. The track used to be what was called Hendricks Field and was an airbase used to train B-17 combat crews. What’s even cooler is that part of this track still uses some of the original airport runways and makes for the craziest ride over the last corner.  Combining a mix of concrete and asphalt this track is sure to punish even the best of drivers. I’m a bit far from this one but would love to get on it someday soon.

Last but not least I decided to go with Circuit of the Americas mostly because of two reasons. One it brought back Formula 1 to the United States, and I think that is super important for the sport and will help grow its fan base in the USA. 2nd because the track is new, modern, and cutting edge. Having only opened in 2012 this track is still but a baby. But like most children with time and patience, this track will be one of the worlds greatest I feel like.    

There you have it. My short and sweet lists of 5 tracks in the USA that I think are worth visiting. Maybe I will see you at one of them this year? Maybe we can trade a little paint too if you are up to it. Let me know what you think of this list in the comments below or share some of your favorites with us.

‘Til next time.

Vincent

CorkSport Mazdaspeed3 13 Inch Big Brake Kit

Even More Stopping Power for your Mazdaspeed 3

In our drive to make more power, we often forget about adding measures to keep us safe at the greater speeds we are achieving. The CorkSport Big Brake Caliper Kit is a great place to start, however if you wish you could stop even faster say hello to the CorkSport 13inch Big Brake Kit. Designed for serious stopping power, it includes 13” directional rotors, powder-coated 4-piston calipers, upgraded pads, and everything you need to install it on your Mazdaspeed3.

Read on for a breakdown of all the components

Rotors

The rotors have been designed to provide optimum stopping power while minimizing noise for street use. The upgrade to 13inch diameter rotors provides greater braking torque for an equivalent braking force (like how a longer wrench makes it easier to loosen a tight bolt). The larger diameter combined with an increased thickness of 28mm (vs 25mm for OE) provides better cooling as there is a larger mass to reject heat into.

In addition, slots were added to the friction surface to help sweep away any debris, brake dust, or gases that can otherwise affect your braking characteristics. We avoided drilling the rotors as holes decrease your total friction area and increase the chance that the rotor will crack. By moving to a two-piece design, we were able to decrease the overall weight of the rotor and by making the center section out of aluminum, it can help dissipate heat from the rest of the rotor better. Semi-Floating mounting between the inner and outer sections allows for quieter rotor vs having a full-floating center section.

Finally, the vanes in the rotor are atypical; these vanes are the “fins” that connect the inside and outside of the rotor. By using curved vanes instead of the typical straight vanes, the rotor becomes directional and has to be used on a specific side of the vehicle; however, it also provides more efficient cooling. When the rotor turns, the curved vanes draw air through the center of the rotor and out through the edge, providing greater airflow than a straight vane and thus better cooling. There is another bonus to heat dissipation as the curved vanes have a larger surface area that will come in contact with air than an equivalent number of straight vanes.

Calipers

Forged aluminum, four-piston performance calipers are included with the kit in a choice of powder-coated blue, red, or black.

Although each piston is individually smaller in diameter than the single OE caliper piston, the total surface area is increased so the braking force at a specific brake pressure is increased. Larger piston surface area means larger brake pads can be used as well. You also get more even braking force on each side of the rotor due to the opposed piston design. This encourages even pad wear, even rotor wear, and consistent braking characteristics.

The pistons themselves were specifically chosen for optimum braking endurance and reliability. They are staggered in size, with the pistons on the leading edge being slightly smaller than the trailing edge pistons. This is another protection for even pad wear. Each piston is made completely out of stainless steel for its low conductive heat transfer. What this means is that the pistons themselves will transfer less heat to the brake fluid than an aluminum or steel piston, decreasing the chances of overheated brake fluid.

Pads

Street performance brake pads are included with the kit that bridges the gap between Mazdaspeed3 street and track pads. They are larger and a more aggressive compound than the pads included with the CorkSport MS3 Big Brake Caliper Kit but are not a full track pad. They will produce less dust and noise than a track pad but still need to be warmed up for optimum performance. Should you need new pads or want to change to a different pad, you have a bunch of options from G-Lock, Carbotech, EBC, Hawk, and various other manufacturers.

Lines, Brackets, and Hardware

The rest of the CorkSport 13inch BBK is composed of exactly what you need to properly and safely install the kit on your Mazdaspeed3. Stainless steel brake lines are included to remove any risk of a soft brake pedal and ensure the calipers are operating optimally. High strength steel brackets properly position the four-piston calipers on the new rotors using the OE bracket locations. All components are locked down using Grade 12.9 hardware with a corrosion resistant coating for lasting durability.

The CorkSport Mazdaspeed 3 13” Big Brake Kit has everything you need to keep you safe at increased horsepower levels. If you’re looking for more than the stock brakes have to offer, let the CS Mazdaspeed3 BBK be a part of your build.

Daytona International Speedway and a Mazda 3

Daytona International Raceway Track Map

Most people think Nascar when they hear about Daytona International Speedway. To road course guys like me, it’s the site of a 24-hour race, which we wait for every year in January. This past year, I participated in the SCCA Majors to qualify to run two different classes at the Runoffs, which were hosted at the Daytona Intl. Speedway.

My normal racetrack chariot is a 2011 Mazda 2 B-Spec, which I’ve raced for the past 4 years.

corksport-mazda-2-race-car
Derrick’s 2011 Mazda 2 B-Spec from Daytona coming out of turn 3.

I’ve been quietly building a 2015 Mazda 3 Sedan with a 2.5 engine to run in the SCCA T-4 class starting late in the season this year with the purpose of running it at Daytona. We picked up the car from getting the cage installed and had nine days to get all of the parts installed, get it dyno tuned for 98 octane, and load it up into a trailer to go to Daytona via Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. There’s nothing like taking a completely unsorted car to a national championship race on the other side of the country, just for fun.

At the Pirelli World Challenge race weekend at Mazda Raceway, the CorkSport Mazda 2 was piloted by Joey Jordan and swept the three races for a perfect weekend. In between the Mazda 2 getting serviced, we worked on the Mazda 3, getting the sound deadener removed, seat mounted, and safety gear installed. We also changed the springs installed on the car to CorkSport’s 2014+ Mazda 3 springs to make the ride height lower. At Daytona, you want less aero drag because of the low profile, so having the car as low as you can get it helps the speed on the oval section.

After the last race was finished up at Pirelli, we loaded up both Mazdas and headed to Daytona, which is a 44-hour drive across the country.

We arrived at Daytona on Friday to do some final setup on the Mazda 2 and finish the prep work on the Mazda 3 before our test day on Saturday.

corksport-mazda-3-race-car

I’ve raced at Autoclub speedway in Fontana California before, so I was familiar with a banked track but not quite as familiar with that long of a time on the track.

In the Mazda 2, I found myself looking around at the scenery a lot during the Saturday test day. The infield was fun to find the limits on the car and mastering the bus stop with a quick hit of the brake then back on the gas was a big challenge for me.

In the Mazda 3 on Sunday, I got a reminder of what a new car can be like while getting everything dialed in. I had massive understeer with the car and had to modulate the throttle constantly to get the car to turn. On the straight sections, the car was fast and I could hang with most of the cars out there if I got enough of a run out of the corners. To give you an idea of how much faster the Mazda 3 was at the time trap, the fastest draft time I got with the Mazda 2 was 119mph. In the Mazda 3, it was 139mph. This was before you head into a turn and slow down in the shortest possible space before busting a quick left into the infield. If you get it wrong, the guys behind you made up time on you. If you get it right, you can get more of a lead.

Another huge problem I had with the Mazda 3 was I couldn’t see anything out of the left side of the car. The window size is pretty small, the window net didn’t help, and the massive left mirror did its best to keep me from seeing the apex or the other cars.

I qualified for the championship race 15th out of 22 cars, which isn’t great, but it’s not the back of the field. I was four seconds off the pace of the pole sitting Honda Civic, which gives you an idea of how well sorted that car was in comparison to the Mazda 3 in its first weekend at the track.

corksport-mazda-3-racing-daytona

Honestly, the T-4 started off pretty crappy for me. I got jumped on the start and was forced to the outside of turn 1 where I couldn’t judge the car next to me going through the corner, so I lost a spot. Two laps later, I got to watch Scotty White in his Mustang get turned into by a RSX right in front of me going into the bus stop, which made for some great front row entertainment. Toss in a few dive bombs by a Camaro and it made for a good time. I spent the rest of the race trying to be as nice to my front left tire in the infield as I could.

corksport-mazda-3-daytona-track-race

In the end, I finished in 15th, which is the exact spot I started the race in! For this upcoming season, we’ll work on the suspension setup to improve the car’s cornering speeds to be more competitive and work on the driver setup.

I have to give a big thanks to CorkSport for the parts installed on the Mazda 3, which worked flawlessly, Joey Jordan Motorsports for the spotting and chassis setup at the track, Joe at Dynotronics for the 98 octane Skyactiv Tune in a super short period of time, Monarch Inspections for letting us steal your worker bee to drive the truck across the country, 47 Moto for the wrench help, Mazdaspeed Motorsports for being the best vehicle manufacturer that supports club racing, and my wife and kids for putting up with me running off to chase my dreams.

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

Mazda Performance In Action at the Track

We live and breathe Mazda.

But you already knew this about us. We work our 9-5 serving Mazdas and then on the weekends, we hit the track with our very own Mazda.

What exactly goes into our Derrick-driven Mazda3 race car? CorkSport.

Check out our performance in action infographic and see what goes into the CS race car. Don’t worry: if you have an older Mazda, we still have you covered.

What goes into our CorkSport race car?

Rear motor mount

Get improved handling and road feel while maintaining a comfortable ride. Our rear motor mount reduces your engine’s movement which enhances the power transfer from engine to tire, therefore improving throttle response, gear shifting, and driver feedback.

Short ram intake

Instant increase in HP and torque by reducing intake restrictions and bringing more air into the intake chamber.

Cat back exhaust

Gain more horsepower and torque by creating a free-flowing system without restrictions. You’ll get smooth flow, increased power, and a faster spool up.

Lowering springs

Give your car the performance appearance and edge you have been looking for. You’ll get a quicker turning response, crisper road feel, and a firmer spring rate, all while maintaining excellent ride quality.

Camber plates

Get adjustability to dial in performance and handling. Our front camber plates provide up to -3 degrees of camber.

Rear sway bar

Remove the tendency to overpower the front tires under hard cornering. Our rear sway bar increases the spring rate on side of the suspension which is compressed most and its adjustability allows you to fine tune the handling.

Now get some drive time in and hit the track.

Cheers,

CorkSport