Tag Archives: mazda racing

SpeedSource ex-Factory Mazda Race Team Christmas Liquidation Auction, More Photos

RaceCarsDirect.com has a listing for the upcoming December 19th auction with some spiffy new pictures of all the SpeedSource Mazda Prototypes and GT cars being liquidated by Key Auctioneers.

I do hope they go to a good home!

Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com

Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com
Photo credit: RaceCarsDirect.com

link to auction:  racecarsdirect.com/Advert/Details/87218/speedsource-racing-auction—december-19th-20

The news of this team going kaput is terrible… not shocking, but just sad really. I used to follow SpeedSource from when I started marshaling in the US. Back in 2013 they raced the Mazda RX-7 firebreathers in GrandAm, the cars that now made their way to Australia (ironic as I’m sure there is similar local talent, including Mad Mike in New Zealand, home of the four rotor Mazda’s).

I used choose races to go to specifically to root for the Mazda diesel-powered GX cars that were just introduced… they kind of sucked but ended up on the podium because frankly no-one else raced in GX class. There were a few Cayman’s if I remember correctly, and the only car that was worse than them was the Lotus Evora.

When they shoved the diesel engine into their Lola’s the results were similar. It was a bit pathetic to watch LMP2 prototypes race so slowly. Things improved with the petrol AER engine, but the cars were so fragile even if they were fast… you look at them sideways and they would break down. Yet I was cheering for them!

I’m sure the Lola’s could have any engine the new buyer chooses for them to be competitive again on the club or even historics racing level… The Mazda6 GT cars don’t need to be propelled by a diesel either. But it’s a cool piece of history on sale here that I hope I’ll see again at a track in the future… or even in a museum somewhere.

Merry Christmas folks… buy yourself a perfect present: Race Car!

 

 

PS. I will have to do a follow up write-up on all the Skip Barber liquidated Miata race cars one day. I know there’s one “small” team in Cummings, Georgia area that is restoring 15 of them to their racing glory… maybe I’ll get to visit them in the future to take some photos… maybe I’ll see them at VIR or Road Atlanta in action. One man’s loss is another man’s gain, or however that saying goes. And these liquidation auctions are precisely that.

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Big day  working on my friend Bill’s Miata today.

We were planning on changing his spark plugs to NGK Laser Iridium plugs as well as put in his new rear end links and replace the license plate light bulbs to the new LED ones I ordered online from Taiwan. The day started early for Bill with a trip to Ramsey Mazda to help diagnose an air conditioning leak… which they spent many hours looking for but couldn’t find.

It was a very wet start to the day. I had to run some errands before meeting Bill at the dealership (to also pick up my rear sway bar bushings) and it was tough to get around with multiple highways flooded. But we managed to meet up, went to have delicious Korean BBQ for lunch and the day suddenly cleared up and became sunny!

So here we go…

I first vacuumed and then blasted the top of the engine with compressed air to clear any debris from the area we were going to work on…

and there was some debris, especially from the underside of the engine cover that left a fine sand-like crap over the wiring

I’ve done the spark plugs on my car at around 50k miles so it was interesting to tackle Bill’s car which has over 100k miles on his and presumably these were his original spark plugs…

Getting to them was easy, instead of unplugging the coil packs I just moved them upwards and out of the way

Most of the holes were clean except for the one next to last, which had a visible amount of oil in it

Shiny new plugs… while undoing the old ones we quickly were faced with them being stubborn and not turning as freely as you’d want them to… so Bill went ahead and sprayed them with PB Blaster… and while they soaked we moved on to doing some other repairs

So we proceeded to changing Bill’s rear end links. I had him using my old take offs as a temporary solution to see if there would be any issue. The shop that did his suspension install used some cheapo aftermarket ones and we quickly discovered that one of the end links had it’s ball ripped out of the housing. So it was nice to see that the OEM pieces held up and we replaced them with new ones.

After this we took another crack at turning the spark plugs and all were loose except for the very first one closest to the front of the car, so we blasted it again and moved on to installing rear sway bar bushings on my car hoping that would stop the clunking… spoiler alert… it didn’t! But now I have new bushings in the back. Oh well!

My old bushings looked fine. We lubed them up with Mobil 1 grease not that long ago. But I was hoping against hope that they were the culprit of my clunking noises. Now I’m not sure what it is. We put on new end links, new bushings…  what could it be? Bad shocks? But bad shocks would surely show wear. I am stumped!

Back to finish the spark plug change:

With enough lube all came out effortlessly. In fact they came out with much less effort that I did on my car doing the dry swap.

The hole that had oil in it was showing clear debris left when the spark plug was removed, so I cleaned it out nicely before installing the new one

All done! Started up no problem. No engine noise. No vibrations. Perfect!

After a short test drive we proceeded to the last job of the day… changing the pesky license plate bulbs on the trunk lid… one of Bill’s burned out and that was the reason I ordered a bunch of them from Taiwan to replace mine as well

I already knew how to approach this change. Pulled out a bunch of fish line and started working my way along the backing of the light unit. The rubber piece that touches the metal trunk lid was very much stuck to it. So the reason for using the fishing line was to break it loose and then the light unit slides to the left and pops out by pulling on the right side of it. And so that’s exactly what I did.

All the plastic tips in tact, nothing snapped or broken. Nothing brittle

Interesting observation the soft top Mazdaspeed spoiler has a little area cut out for the Mazda logo… who would have thunk?

I asked Bill to bring his new ramps so we could change the rear end links, and they fit very nicely into his trunk. Taking up all the space!

The LED’s look perfect!

What a difference a couple of hours make. It was a perfectly sunny day for Bill’s drive home… I had an awesome time working on this car looking forward to another excuse to do something else in the near future. Thanks Bill!

Sunday Fun Day Part 1! AutoX Motorsport NE at the Meadownlands

Today was a good day!

The threat of rain didn’t dampen my automotive adventures… I slept in pretty late, woke up 9’ish which was a good change from last year when I volunteered Detroit Grand Prix and had to be up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Belle Isle. So that was a plus. I did get to see some racing today, if you could call Autocross racing… all 50+ seconds of it at a time where various Miata’s, Porsche’s, Vette’s, Rotary RX-7’s and RX-8’s and a shitton of other cars took to the track… err parking lot at the Meadownalds.

I was surprised to see two concurrent AutoX events happening at the Met Life Stadium (the former Giants Stadium) one at Lot L and another at Lot E. I’ll share my observations below, knowing full well that many will not agree with my opinions… and since I took a hell of a lot of pictures I’ll break them up into three parts, the Sunday Fun Day series if you will.

So first stop was at Lot L where Motorsports North East were running their Autocross… I learned about it at Miata.net where several owners posted a plan to “race” and hang out, spectate and proceed to lunch at a famous hot dog joint nearby.

I came. I saw. I took some pix. And I got bored rather quickly. Now I understand why I prefer circuit racing to solo. Especially if I could be a part of it as a volunteer.

So here’s some pix:

As you can see people run what they brung… I had a hard time choosing a cover photo for this post because it was definitely a hard choice between the beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia which I was delighted to go flat out for the first time, or that cobbled together Mazda MX-5 Miata NA with a turbo and a big wang in the back.

But this event was definitely the “budget” version of the next stop on my automotive adventures today… the Sunday Fun Day series continues…

Mazda MX-5: 600 Mile Miata Road Trip to Watkins Glen for some NASCAR Training

I’m so glad I drove up to Watkins Glen for some much needed NASCAR training during their Motorsport Safety Seminar this April. Last time I went was two years ago. Last year I almost went, but with snow on the forecast I chickened out, panicked and booked a flight to Texas instead to volunteer MotoGP where it didn’t snow. This year I was committed to go, but kept on checking the weather app because the Miata is not an optimal snow vehicle upstate New York.

Things were looking good… and then I saw snowflakes on the forecast. I don’t know if it was that… the five cups of coffee I had on Friday, or the excitement of planning a Texas Road Trip… I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before leaving for my 4 hour drive north. Went to bed early at 9PM by 1AM I was still tossing and turning, so I decided to shower and hit the road. And the road was miserable. It was raining the whole time, most of the way heavy. And closer to the destination it started snowing with big snow flakes zooming past reflecting in the headlights playing tricks on my sleepy mind, resembling time travel in some cosmic galaxy. It was fucked up!

I took my time, and the otherwise 4 hour trip turned into a 6 hour trip. I stopped for food at Sheetz, my usual spot in Scranton, PA. I stopped at Tim Hortons but they didn’t seem to be open even when there was an employee cleaning the place up… I had to pull over at a Rest Area near Tioga Downs to close my eyes for a minute because I found myself dozing off a little. But I made it to MSS training with time to spare but not too early.

On the way in I drove past Montour Falls which compared to the last time I saw them (when they were dry) it was the complete opposite. They were gushing with water. A massive amount of water. All the rivers leading to Watkins Glen were overflowing. Lots of fishermen along the creeks down the main road were getting ready to catch something early in the morning.

The first day flew by quick. I went into town to crash at my host’s house. She was away so I figured I’d take a nap and hang out in the evening. But the nap didn’t work. So we hung out ordering pizza and wings and watching a movie. Went to visit the neighbor and check out their awesome back yard bar. It was so cool!

That night though my mind was still racing, and come 10PM I just couldn’t seem to go to sleep. But I forced myself and eventually slept like a baby all the way until 8AM the next morning. Staying downtown Watkins Glen was super convenient. I could wake up late. Shower. And casually drive to the track for our 8:45AM meeting. I discovered my car was the victim of some unkind birds, since I parked under a tree. So before heading to the track I stopped at a self-serve car wash and gave it a nice hose-down.

Second day flew by even quicker.

The highlights for me were the hands-on fire extinguisher training. Followed by track familiarization laps around the circuit, both with the Boot and without (NASCAR configuration).

It was amazing, and ticked all the boxes for me coming out to this event. I totally got my money’s worth!

Besides the track activities I spent half an hour at the Watkins Glen Walmart the night before rummaging through the Hot Wheels display. To my surprise all the Miata’s were at the bottom of the box, and I ended up buying all of them! This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been on the hunt for these little toys for a while. I must have visited a dozen Walgreens, Walmarts, Dollar stores, Kmarts, and other supermarkets in New York, New Jersey, and Florida… and these little fuckers were really hard to come by!

They will be especially useful next time I travel for a Miata event (overseas).

And the cherry on top moment on this trip came from a Foodie Experience… I was telling my host about the wonderful “pig wings” I stumbled across in South Carolina… and she casually told me that they totally have the same food upstate New York… they just call them “Hog Wings” here… so on the drive home I stopped by Mooney’s on Main Street in Corning to pick up a box of them to take home…

The place was packed with diners. And I was happy to see the girl sitting closest to me at the bar getting her order of hog wings on Mac’n Cheese (apparently that’s their thing up there). I chose mine with french fries and they were especially tasty as I reach in a few times for a snack during my long drive home.

What an awesome adventure this trip turned into. I’m so glad I went! Luckily I am at almost 5,000 miles since the last oil change in February, so I’ll be doing one soon after I return from Texas…

I love Watkins Glen, I really do! Ya’ll should come and visit…

Thanks Playboy!

Fun fact: I bought my MX-5 Miata thanks to Playboy…

Disclaimer – this is a clean post, no nudity will be shared. 

Although I have to say I ended up with a car I can go topless in… well, not me, the car can… ugh nevermind!

What better time than Valentine’s Day to share the story of how I fell in love with the Miata. I was single then, I’m still single now, so this is not a real romantic story but since I’ve been spending a ton of money on this damn car it might as well be shared. (the story that is)

All the way back in October of 2014… I was volunteering Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It was my turn to work as cross-track safety at Turn 2 (the corner with a big Mazda billboard, since the brand sponsored both the track and the event: officially Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda) when a car went off track at Turn 1, skipped over the gravel trap and fucking nailed the wall. The incident occurred down hill from me, and as soon as I saw the smash occur I started running down towards the crash hoping I could potentially help. The race car was a white NC Miata and the series was the Playboy MX-5 Cup that ran huge fields of cars that were split in two classes with the newer/faster class being Playboy Miata and slower class Skip Barber School Miata.

When I got closer to the scene the driver had gotten out of the mangled vehicle unhurt. But the car was in a sorry state. The driver’s side front wheel got ripped off in the incident and lay about ten feet from the car. I looked over the concrete barrier that the car hit and there was a large piece of broken rotor stuck in the concrete smoldering, with steam/smoke still coming off of it. It was nuts!

I think at this moment I realized I wanted a Miata of my own.

I’m pretty sure I had decided then and there because by the time it came around to the big worker dinner party and swag giveaway I had my eye set on Mazda gear and picked up several items including a t-shirt and a few hats to help start my collection.

As previously mentioned Mazda was the title sponsor of the race, Petit Le Mans presented by Mazda. So I took a shot with my swag and the Andy Blackmore Spotter Guide:

It took me several months to finally find a Miata of my own but at this point I was determined!

Over the next few years I kept coming back to Road Atlanta to volunteer one of my favorite endurance events, featuring the Mazda LMP2 Lola’s cruising along…

This was the place I got to see the brand new ND Global MX-5 Cup debut (or at least several of their test vehicles, before the debut).

I discovered the Skippy Racing School Miata grave yard which was a very sad sight to see. But this place and the Playboy series was still the main reason I think behind me falling in love with the little convertible. And I’m thankful for that.

Now if only my little red race car would help me find a real Girlfriend

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24 Daytona Int’l Speedway

Mission Accomplished!

My goal for this 1,000+ mile Road Trip in my MX-5 Miata from NJ to Florida was to get some close-up shots of the new Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24. It almost looked like it wouldn’t happen. Every time we would visit the paddock during lunch or at the end of day, both Mazda’s would be in pieces… I wanted the whole car. So we tried again on the very last day… instead of going to the CFR SCCA compound for lunch we rushed to the paddock and snuck into the Mazda pits where a few photographers crammed into the back of the minivan they were going to use to drive on track and take pictures of the Mazda’s following them… that didn’t happen. We talked to one of the crew who told us that the #55 Mazda was called in for tech inspection, so we started making our way back to that area when we saw one being towed. Not sure what happened at inspection but they pulled it into the garage and it didn’t return for the afternoon practice session. At the end of the day we again rushed back to the paddock after watching #70 car practice, and caught it just in time after it was parked in it’s garage and one of the crew started removing the rear engine panel off. I made a comment that no matter how we tried we just couldn’t seem to catch the car in once piece, the crew member looked at me, stopped walking away, and put the panel back so I can take some pictures. Wow! What a nice gesture!?! He let us come into the garage and get some good selfies there. Thanks so much SpeedSource employee!

Here’s the pix, finally:

A perfectly executed 5 point turn 🙂

I’m really thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to watching the team do well in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship!

First impressions of the car? I love the body styling. It’s all brand new. Instead of the bug-eyed look of the previous gen Lola, this one has much sleeker surface, almond-eyes, nice RX-hues to it all over. But the power house sounds exactly the same as the old one. Reliability issues remain similar. Both cars took a while to come out to practice and just as quickly went back into the garages. When they were running both were very quick. For the longest while in one practice session #55 was quickest. #70 was right behind it. The #13 Rebellion Racing prototype took the top spot away but the Mazdas were solidly quick. They did not get nearly as much track time as the Cadillac DPi’s did and that’s what makes me think that they will continue dominate while the Mazda’s will challenge them for pole position at most races, faltering back due to reliability during the races. Sucks but that seems to be the reality. I’d like to be proven wrong. Good luck SpeedSource & Mazda Motorsports!

Support Motorsport Sponsors?

This post is about motor oil and the holiday season shopping, shall we say- opportunities? Yes! It’s all about great deals on products from companies that support Motorsports through their sponsorship. I don’t know about others but when it comes to effectiveness of Motorsport advertising, I’m a sucker for buying things that are promoted on race cars. In this case it is Castrol EDGE motor oil for my Miata. I think I actually bought too much!

A little back story… I have been posting a lot of Miata.net about what oil is recommended for our MX-5’s. The answer is – surprising! People say it doesn’t really matter what you use in the car as long as it is changed regularly because most modern oils sold in the US right now are “good” and therefore no one is better than the other. That said many on the forums use Mobil 1 in their cars. And Mobil 1 sponsors quite a lot of Motorsport. So like sheep I went ahead and bought two 5QT jugs within the first year of ownership of my car and that is what I used. Until I became puzzled by the dark/black look of that oil when I changed it at 5,000 mile intervals. It did not seem right to me especially since Mobil 1 advertised the oil is good until up to 15,000 miles. Yikes!

The two Mobil 1 5QT’s that I bought were mysteriously priced low, at just $5 a jug… which is ridiculous. Normally the price is $25 at Walmart and $35 everywhere else from AutoZone to Advance Auto Parts. My alternative to Mobil in the second year of ownership turned out to be even cheaper to source. I decided to go with Pennzoil Platinum because again Pennzoil sponsored a lot of racing, some people on the forums swore by it (although there weren’t too many of those people, not nearly as much as Mobil 1 evangelists) and it was fairly cheap! Regularly priced at $25 to $30 from Walmart to the parts stores, but constantly on sale and with promotions from both Pennzoil and other sources that at some point cost me as low as $4 for a 5QT jug or in one case, I basically was paid to take the 5QT jug from the store after all the promos and rebates. (Pennzoil is famous for it’s $10 rebate or rather $2 per QT rebate up to $48 per calendar year, which is a lot of jugs). In 2016 I used Pennzoil Platinum exclusively. I liked it so much that I even got the Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage ATF for my JWS-3309 Aisin Transmission. Mostly 5W-20 felt amazing during the spring, summer and fall months. But using 0W-20 in the winter made the engine sound louder, which really perplexed me. I bought another 5W-20 jug to use later but also started considering alternatives, and now decided to start sourcing Castrol EDGE to try next.

There is a post I made two years ago after my last Mobil 1 oil change that I was contemplating trying Pennzoil Platinum and Castrol EDGE, and sharing that plan in a post created a goal which I am now going to meet. In 2017 I will run Castrol EDGE exclusively in my car and I’ve already sourced enough oil for 3 oil changes which is basically the 15,000 miles I plan to do in the coming year. I decided to go with the 5W-20 weight standard black bottle and not the gold extended performance bottle since I am only daily driving the car and not tracking it or using it in any kind of extreme situations. I do plan to make several trips to Florida which will rack the mileage up quickly, but also probably won’t require me to make as frequent changes as short trips in New Jersey would require with stop and go traffic, cold weather, etc. I am very much looking forward to giving this oil a go, and seeing how I like it compared to Mobil 1 and Pennzoil Platinum I already used. So far the standard has been set pretty high, but I have heard nothing but good things about Castrol and they are one of the big sponsors of the IMSA Mazda Prototype program which makes me feel like I’m supporting it directly now.

Price wise though I think the retailer is losing money selling me the oil because I’ve been taking advantage extensively of the Sears/Kmart ShopYourWay rewards program. Every time they sent me 5,000, 6,000 or 10,000 in points (where 1,000 points = $1) I immediately redeem them for another 1QT bottle or 5QT jug of the Castrol EDGE oil which they have in stock. Regular price for the 1QT bottle is $7.99+ tax. (Which seems ridiculous) Last one I bought with the 6,000 surprise point redemption only cost me $0.87 cents. Before that I redeemed 10,000 points and $5.50 for two bottles. The 5QT jugs which Kmart sells for $37 regular price I paid about $7 bux out of pocket after purchasing it in store on sale for $22.99+ tax, and redeeming some regular points and 4,000 surprise points. All in all an oil change will cost me under $10 for the oil and another $9 for the K&N HP-1002 filter which I sourced from Walmart. The good part about the four K&N filters I bought they were still Made in USA and not the newer style which are made in Korea (and for some reason people are complaining that their quality has dropped).

Now all I got to do is keep driving more so I can use up the oil quickly. 2017 is going to be an awesome year…

I should mention some of the other companies I support by using their products thanks to all the Motorsport advertising I’ve been exposed to:

  • BFGoodrich tires – I have two sets, one summer one winter
  • Sunoco Ultra 93 fuel – official fuel of NASCAR & IndyCar
  • BP 93 Ultimate – I know they sponsor loads of Rally racing
  • Mobil 1 lubricants in rear end, power steering, etc.
  • K&N oil and air filters, also official sponsor of NASCAR
  • Bilstein shocks – huge sponsor especially during Nurburgring 24h

I’m sure there’s more that I’ve used or will use in the future.

For those of you that support Motorsport sponsors in your shopping – kudos to that! If you don’t, and use the argument – why pay more when there are cheaper options? Well, as I’ve demonstrated above, it is possible to use brand name and pay less, way less. You just need to shop around… for me it’s a challenge that I enjoy! I especially like buying branded gift cards, like those from BP, ExxonMobil or Sunoco with 5% to 10% discount for each dollar spend, making my expensive Sunoco Ultra 93 fuel (which is typically more than a no name brand) a bit cheaper… considering fuel is about $2.60/gal at the moment, I’m paying 26 cents less a gallon, which brings the price right down to a low-cost option, and I’m buying a better product! That makes me feel good.

Support Motorsport Sponsors, please 🙂

Global MX-5 Cup Assembly Shop Tour at Long Road Racing in Statesville, NC

As if my three week Spring Break Road Trip to marshal St. Pete GP and Sebring 12h couldn’t get any better, it totally did. The very last stop, albeit unscheduled, on the trip home I got to visit Long Road Racing the official assembly plant for Global MX-5 Cup cars. Yep!

It almost happened by accident. My marshal buddy Ben from South Carolina invited me to crash for the night on my drive home which I really appreciated and as we were BS’ing after dinner about MX-5’s and my Miata he suggested I visit the LRR shop. I knew nothing about it… always assuming that the Global MX-5 Cup race cars were probably built to spec in Japan and shipped around the world just like their road cars, but I would be wrong. The road cars are shipped, sort of body in white trim to North Carolina, where LRR strips them down and preps each car, hand-build mind you, to spec to be shipped around the country and the world for use in each country’s specific MX-5 Cup series.

The drive to Long Road Racing was about 3 hours from Florence, SC located at the intersection of Interstates 77 and 40 (I drove right past them on the way down to Florida being completely oblivious to the magic going on there). And was a very appropriate pit stop before the 9 hour drive from Statesville, NC back to New Jersey.

One of the LRR employees who was extremely welcoming gave me a private tour of the facility. Showing each step of the assembly process from teardown to build up, fabrication station, paint shop, etc. in a very exciting fashion. And even allowed me to take some shots of the finished cars before leaving. (*you can see a ton more pictures of the actual build and various fab components on Tom Long’s personal blog… as in Tom Long of Long Road Racing fame: https://longroadracing.wordpress.com/) But I love the fact I was able to take some actual pix besides all the mental pictures I took during the tour:

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What an impressive facility and operation, I wish I could find a job with a place like this as it would totally complete my motorsport hobby…. ironically, Tom Long the owner of LRR was racing at Sebring this weekend, behind the wheel o the Mazda LMP2 car. I possibly even saw him without really knowing who he is.

While researching the trip after Ben brought it up I noticed that LRR was actually hiring people. So half jokingly I asked about it during my tour but being there in camo shorts and flip flops with three week old beard, I don’t think anyone would take me seriously. Not that I really have the skills they are probably looking for and for most marketing and business related jobs I’m actually interested in I’m sure the best candidates are chicks with long hair and big tits. But nonetheless it would be a killer opportunity to try and land something in the future… I certainly have the global experience to be useful 🙂

In the meantime, my enthusiastic tour guide said the shop is open to visitors and looking thru facebook I’ve seen whole MX-5 club get together’s at the facility, so if you’re driving by on I77 and I40 through North Carolina give LRR a visit, you’ll definitely enjoy the views inside the shop. It’s like a candy store in there. And at just $53,000 a pop, you can leave with your very own MX-5 Cup Car from Mazda Motorsports, Assembled right here in the US of A!

More info:

www.mazdamotorsports.com 

www.longroadracing.com

longroadracing.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/longroadracing

2668 Peachtree Rd, Statesville, NC 28625 (980) 223-8547