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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Prototypes, R & D, and the New MX-5: A Day at the Track

I bet you know this already, but we’re very excited about the new Mazda MX-5 and really, what’s not to be excited about! The ND MX-5 is sleek, sexy, efficient, modern, and an absolute blast through the apex.

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Here at the CorkSport HQ, we’ve been working on a handful of awesome products and even had our first prototypes before we even had the car to test them on. But the wait is over. With prototypes in one hand and keys in the other, there was only one thing needed….Portland International Raceway. Oh, and for good measure we brought in Kenton Koch, of Kenton Koch Racing, to put our MX-5 and prototypes through their paces. Here’s how the day went.

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The morning was a cool 55 degrees, but the CS team was buzzing with excitement. First session of the day was about to start, so Kenton was sent out with OEM springs and the CS front and rear swaybars in their softest setting. A couple laps later, Kenton came to the pits with concern for the rear suspension. Too our surprise, the coins of the RSB had bent, rendering the RSB useless. This was a real bummer, but a failed part in testing is a great day for warranty. Luckily, we were able to set the RSB to the stiffest setting to continue testing. Back to the track he went.

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Kenton was able to finish the session without issue and returned to the pits with more feedback than we could absorb. He loved the car, but the springs were just too soft and the FSB needed a stiffer setting. Great! This is exactly the feedback we wanted to hear! For the next session, Kenton went out in an employee’s club edition to get a baseline feel of the OEM swaybars. In the meantime, the CS team swapped the springs out with our 35% stiffer springs.

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Session three: launch edition MX-5 with 35% stiffer springs and the swaybars on the stiffest settings. Kenton came into the pits around the halfway mark and requested we move the FSB back to the softest setting. The session ended and Kenton returned to the pits with even more feedback! In the first half of the session, he was fighting a lot of understeer which is what merited the FSB adjustment. In the second half of the session, the understeer was much improved, but was still the most prevalent driving characteristic. We had another set of springs that were only 20% stiffer, so we installed them in the front and sent him out for the next session.

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This was the ticket! Kenton stayed on track for the whole session this time. He was very happy with the car’s balance and had complete control of understeer/oversteer with just a small amount of throttle modulation. This was great news! For the final session, we adjusted the FSB back to the stiffest setting. This would tell us if the swaybars were a good compliment to the springs. Another session went by and again Kenton was very happy. The stiffer setting on the FSB pushed the car’s balance a little more towards understeer. This is great because understeer is typically much easier and safer for a novice driver to control, but the FSB also had the adjustability to put the car at a balanced state. More experienced drivers will appreciate this.

We wrapped up the day extremely satisfied with our results. We had a failure, we had many successes, and we learned a lot about the new MX-5. We can confidently say that the CorkSport MX-5 components are track tested and designed with the customer in mind. Look for swaybars, springs, and endlinks in the near future!

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CorkSport Upcoming Events!

Now that the warm weather is upon us, event season is in full swing and CorkSport has plans for some big events in the coming months that we would like share with you.

CorkSport and MazdasNW Sizzlin Summer Event

Our first upcoming event is the CorkSport and MazdasNW Sizzlin Summer All Mazda Meet on August 11, 2012. The event being headlined by CorkSport Mazda Performance and MazdasNW will also be featuring sponsors Solar Eclipse Window Tinting, Alan Web Mazda, and CarMedic.

It will be taking place from 9am-3pm on August 11, 2012 at the CorkSport Mazda Performance headquarters located in Vancouver, WA and will include a dyno day, show & shine and raffle and will also feature an appearance and dyno run from arguably the highest horsepower Mazdaspeed 3 to be dyno’d to date.

Over one hundred Mazda owners from as far north as British Columbia to as far south as California attended last year’s event making it the largest all Mazda event held in the Northwest and we expect this year’s event to be even bigger and better than last year!

The cost to attend will be just $5.00 per vehicle which includes one entry in the show & shine and a swag bag. Additional entries into show & shine categories will go for $5.00 per entry. Food and drink will be available for purchase and raffle tickets can be purchased for $1.00. For attendees interested in dynoing their vehicle, three pulls will be just $35.00 in advance and $50.00 the day of the event.

Please pre-register today and let us know if you will be participating in the show and shine, plan to dyno, or are just coming to hang out with the crew. Anyone who pre-registers will also recieve a CorkSport swag bag and it will help us plan for parking for the event. We are currently accepting registions at CorkSport’s website at https://corksport.com/corksport-sizzlin-summer-event.html.

CorkSport Invades Texas

The next event we are excited to announce will be held at Harris Hill Raceway in San Marcos, TX. In collaboration with CorkSport customer and sponsored drivers, Matt Kellogg and his new Mazda club, the Texas Speed Demons, CorkSport will be hosting a track day and car show on November 3, 2012 from 9am-6pm.

Details on this event are being finalized and more information will be made available in the coming months, but mark this date on your calendar if you are in Texas, around Texas or can make it to Texas, because this one is going to be a biggie!

If you want updates on our Texas event, please click here to get added to our info list and details will be emailed to you as they become available.

Gwynne-