Autocross MazdaSpeed3 Project #9

Results are in from another autocross. I ended up 6th overall. I was 3rd in class. But to show you how close our class is, 4 of the 5 cars in our class were in the top 7 overall. That is from a total driver count of 76. This is overall PAX results.

After my fourth run of the morning session I was second overall and first in class. Then that fast little Cobalt beat me on the fifth run, and I was unable to improve on my fifth run. That pushed me down to second in class and third overall.

Then came the afternoon runs. I dropped about a half second off my time. Unfortunately, a few others dropped significantly more and pushed me down the list. We only got three runs in the afternoon and I decided to let the wife take all three of her runs prior to me taking all three of mine. My first afternoon run, where I dropped a half second, felt pretty good as far as grip goes. Both runs after that felt very greasy. I tried cooling off the tires between runs, but that didn’t help. So I am assuming it is all that stupid topseal or whatever they call it that is on that racing surface at this site. I think I just missed out on prime time for good times.

Overall, I had fun and while not stoked on the results, I can’t complain too much about being 6th out of 76 in the wife’s school bus. And after my 1st run in the 49’s I knew there was a 47 in it. And I got there. So that is somewhat gratifying. Especially when others in my class seemed to think I was being optimistic when I said we could get there. Unfortunately, 2 of them got there more forcefully than me.

Now. How could I have done better?

  • I should have stiffened up the rear anti-roll bar. It is still set to soft and I was fighting understeer all day.
  • I could maybe have played with rear shock settings but I honestly don’t think they would have made enough difference.
  • I am still trying to figure out tire pressures. Right now I am happiest with 39 front, 37 rear. However, that combination was terrible at the last race site. So I think I have yet to figure out ideal. Time to pull out the shoe polish I guess…
  • I am still trying to get used to the way the differential works on this car. Sometimes it helps pull me in under throttle, sometimes it pushes me out. I think this will just require more seat time to nail down.
  • Mental. I was not focused at all at this event. I had a bad headache all day, and I let that occupy my thoughts far more than I should have.
  • Traction control. I forgot to turn it off for the first few runs. And at least 1 run was a complete waste because of it.

Autocross MazdaSpeed3 Project #8

Cat-Back exhaust for the MazdaSpeed3

Cat-Back exhaust for the MazdaSpeed3

Today Cara put on her exhaust. She wanted more responsibility on this task and I let her have it. The original exhaust had a split all around the pipe right before the second silencer. We worked together to try and pull it apart at that joint, but even after pulling it out like 2 1/2 inches it still wasn’t apart. And I am pretty sure that even if it had, we were not going to weasel the silencer up and over the rear sub-frame. So I pulled out the saws-all and let her go to town. She was pretty apprehensive. But took it like a champ and cut that bitch apart. At this point, the exhaust came off pretty easily. We also installed those Cobb exhaust hangers I mentioned in an earlier post. They are a bitch to get on. But she made it happen. The job ended up being a lot more work than she anticipated. All I did was help pry on things a little and jack up the car and collect tools. Cara pretty much did the rest on her own. So now when the bumper melts, it’s her fault :)

Another pretty flange and hanger

Another pretty flange and hanger

More pretty welds

More pretty welds

Fortune Auto 500 coilovers for the Subaru

Fortune Auto 500 coilovers

Fortune Auto 500 coilovers

This Saturday, we autocrossed the Mazda. Then Sunday we installed the Fortune Auto 500 series coilovers on my Subaru STi. This also allowed me to put my Wedsport SA-15R wheels on.

Front strut with spare lower sleeve for rear.

Front strut with spare lower sleeve for rear.

The Fortune Auto coilovers come with a shorter sleeve for the rear. I am not sure what you would need these for as they give you the same shortest setting. But with less support. So yeah, not sure what those are for, but I did not use them.

Optional radial bearing mount

Optional radial bearing mount

I got my set with the optional radial bearing mounts to help the spring not bind up and get noisy while turning. Too bad the color doesn’t match, but they seem to be pretty smooth.

Now the reasons I went with Fortune Auto:

  • Digressive valving
  • Internals made by BC, but assembled, dynoed, and supported in the states
  • Upgradeable to double adjustable if I decide I want to.

Those are the main reasons. But I had some other personal quirky reasons for choosing them over some of the others. I went with 8K front and 8K rear spring rates. Which is balanced much higher in the rear than stock. We will see how I end up liking that on the street. But so far it is really nice. Firm, yet responsive. Never feels loose at all. But I have not pushed it too hard yet.

Adjuster on the rear

Adjuster on the rear

Install took less than 3 hours. Everything went pretty smoothly other than forgetting to remove the rear top hat nuts prior to installing the shock then realizing I had to redo that one. That’s right, even perfect people forget. :)

I also still had my friend’s corner balance scales so I was able to corner balance the car a bit. That added around another 45 minutes to the job. Upon first check I was very left biased on the front. I ended up just adding a bit of pre-load to the right front to even things out.

Heavy Pig

Heavy Pig

And yes, I could have evened out that left bias and I could have put more effort into making it better when I am sitting in it as once you add me to the mix the cross balance goes to about 50.4%. But for a street car. It is plenty good. But wow, what a pig! 310 lbs heavier than the Speed3 with basically the same power at the crank.

Rear shot after a wash and coils and wheels

Rear shot after a wash and coils and wheels

And here she is in all her glory. YUM! Wheels are WedsSport SA-15R 18×9.5 +38 which weigh just under 20 lbs each. Tires are Bridgestone RE-11 265/40-18. I had to roll the rear fender to get them to clear. Even with the coilovers. The front did not need a roll or spacers or anything.

Yum from the other end.

Yum from the other end.

I do wish the wheels were bit more bronze like in the pictures on WedsSport’s website. But either way, they look pretty good. And the new stance makes me really want to drive my car again.

Autocross MazdaSpeed3 Project #7

After washing all the war wounds from the wheels

After washing all the war wounds from the wheels

So yesterday’s autocross went pretty well. My main rival in the class was not there. However, a kid that beat him at our first event with the Mazdaspeed3 was there and I beat him at this event. Granted, it was only by 0.020. But a win nonetheless. I ended up 2nd in STX. 0.250 behind the winner. And I also ended up top 10 PAX. I did no suspension adjusting. I should have stiffened the rear bar. But I wanted to figure out these new tires first. The poor wheels had quite a bit of cone damage. So we had to wash it tonight. I hit 5 cones. And Cara hit 12 on record and I think another 3 off record. I think Cara needs more time to get used to the handling and new found power. She ended up just shy of 6 seconds behind me. But this torquey little monster was a bit of a handful on this course. Especially for someone with just 2 autocrosses under their belt.

So as I mentioned in my previous update. I felt the BC’s would be plenty good enough to get me to where I was fighting with the leaders. And with no tuning and brand new tires and a bunch of new power and whatever else trying to make things difficult, I got there. Now once we get things all sorted, I think the car will be amazing fun. BTW, more power mods will be coming soon. Also, if this were not the car delivering kids to school, I would have gone stiffer on the rear springs. But for now, it works.

Update on the STi

Opposite direction of the sunset.

Opposite direction of the sunset.

At lunch a couple weeks ago I noticed a huge door ding in the front driver side fender. Luckily I caught the guy that did it and got his insurance info. His insurance paid to fix the fender. The place I had fix it quoted me about $100 less than what insurance paid to fix it. So I had them put some satin black vinyl over the chrome strip that has bugged me since day one on this car. It bugged me enough I almost bought another car instead of an STI just to avoid the chrome. Unfortunately, it seems nearly every car manufacturer has decided all consumers are either Mexican or 70+ years old and want chrome. Well, I got the car back a couple days ago and while I was sitting here at the computer not doing homework, I noticed the sunset was making some cool lighting and decided it is time for some photos.

Bye bye old man chrome. Wish I had the older STi headlights.

Bye bye old man chrome. Wish I had the older STi headlights.

I was shocked how much more I love my car now that the chrome is gone. I knew I hated the chrome. Always have. But I have a renewed excitement for driving it and modifying it now. Prior to the fender dent I was very meh on the car. Nothing about it excited me anymore. Now all of a sudden it is a fun car again. And now that I have my coilovers for it, I will start to make it even better to drive. Crazy how sometimes it is the little details that make all the difference.

Sunset over the house

Sunset over the house

And as further proof of my lack of excitement prior to chrome removal, look how many pictures of the Subaru I have posted prior to this post. I bet I have more pictures in this post than all other combined. Yet the wife’s Mazda and my old Mazda and even my old 350Z had a significant number of picture posts dedicated to them. Anyway. Back to the eye candy. Man, this sunset was cool.

Into the sunset

Into the sunset

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Autocross MazdaSpeed3 Project #6

Another big day for the project car. We installed a few items today.

First thing was the shift weight:

Cobb Shift Weight

Cobb Shift Weight

At the first autocross, I had to hold the shift lever in second gear in all braking zones after the first run when it popped out twice. So this was a necessity. As you can see, the COBB weight is much smaller than the factory weight. Shifting did not get near as notchy as I remember it when we first designed it. So win and win.

side-by-side shift weights

side-by-side shift weights

COBB Shift weight installed

COBB Shift weight installed

Next up was a combination of parts. The Cobb SF Intake and Turbo Inlet Hose. It doesn’t make sense to do one without the other. So we did them both. It is a much bigger pain in the ass on the Speed3 than it was on the Speed6. But very similar. All of today’s fun I tried to make the wife do all the work. This was nice in theory, but I did have to get dirty a couple times helping her out. The worst part about the install was sliding the intake silicone onto the metal joint in the turbo inlet hose. That little metal joiner is so thin and sharp I cut the silicone like a half inch deep at a weird angle through all 6 layers of silicone. It sucked. But should function fine still. We ended up pulling out the battery box just to make it all a bit easier and that was an extra 5 minutes very well spent.

COBB SF Intake

COBB SF Intake

COBB Turbo inlet hose

COBB Turbo inlet hose

Installed intake

Installed intake

And for the final install of the day, the COBB AccessPort. I went with the new fancy version.

COBB AP v3

COBB AP v3

That’s right, the wife gets a nicer AP than me. And it has the fancy blue faceplate she loves so much. And because Mazda is way cooler than Subaru, they put the OBD port in an actual handy location, so it may get used for the gauges more often than mine does.

And here it is coming back from a test drive. One happy driver because she now has the whistle of the turbo.

Test Drive return with happy face

Test Drive return with happy face

Also worth noting is that you need to make sure all coilover locking rings are nice and tight. Clunking is now gone :)

Autocross MazdaSpeed3 Project #4.1

Just a small update to #4. Here is the picture of the Cobb Knob installed since my original pictures were all out of focus.

Cobb Knob on MazdaSpeed3

Cobb Knob on MazdaSpeed3

And FYI, that stuff on the seat is to keep my dirty ass from tainting the seat after getting all greasy working on it.