Our new Autocross Mazdaspeed3 project

I know it has been forever since I update the blog. This is not a catching up post. This is more of a project intro post. The wife wanted to have a fun car that gets better mileage than our Honda Pilot (13mpg around town). We have also found we have a need to tow heavier things. So we traded in her Honda in exchange for a slightly older Infinity QX56. This got us room for the kids and much increased tow capacity. This also freed up some money to get a fun car. The only requirements being that it is relatively competitive in an autocross class, and that it have 5 seat belts, and that is gets more than say 18mpg.

First we looked at some E36’s. Then an E46 M3. And we looked at some Audi’s and other cars that just didn’t quite fit the bill. She has wanted a MazdaSpeed3 for quite some time due to the fact I designed a bunch of stuff for it. But they always sold for crazy high dollar amounts given their age and condition. But we ended up finding a 2008 with a salvage title with just 56K miles for a lot less than others with 120K+ miles on them were going for. The salvage title can be iffy. But given the lower cost and the fact we are going to beat on it anyway, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Hopefully it pans out. So far, so good.

I did not get any pictures of it stock. We bought it on Saturday, autocrossed it in STX on Sunday. I was 4.2 seconds out of class lead. I didn’t feel that was too bad given it was a stock car on crap tires that we owned for about 12 hours prior. Also, I have not done any serious autocrossing in over a decade I think. Luckily for the wife, timing screwed up and they gave her my fastest time. So the official results show her as the fastest girl there. She was not happy about that, but I got a giggle out of it. Turns out I only beat one guy in an R32 in STX. But it was a small turn-out. Back when I used to autocross, over 100 competitors was the norm. Now, it seems 50 is huge. Not sure what caused it, but I have my theories.

New gold Enkei RPF1 +45 with Hankook R-S3 255/40-17 tires

New gold Enkei RPF1 +45 with Hankook R-S3 255/40-17 tires

This week I ordered a few of the autocross essentials for it. Tires, wheels, coilovers. This is not meant to be nationally competitive or expensive. Just a fun project for the wife to have her fun in and get even better at driving with, yet still truck the kids to school every day. Obviously coilovers are not here yet so it sits like a monster truck. And I just took these pictures during a test fit. We still have to roll the rear fenders before these wheels will fit. But hopefully, I will be updating my blog more regularly since I have a project to report on and keep a photo record of.

Another angle of the Enkei test fit

Another angle of the Enkei test fit

Wheel specs: Enkei RPF1 17×9 +45 gold. They weigh 15.7 lbs. The stock wheels are 18×7.5 +52.5 I believe and weigh about 25-26 lbs.

Tire specs: Hankook Ventus R-S3 255/40-17. Stock are 215’s so this is a huge increase in meat touching the ground.

With stock suspension on there, the wheels clear the front strut by less than my finger width. I folded up a piece of paper several time and ran it through the gap and it was fine. So it has probably 1/4-3/8 clearance. It clears the brakes by much less than that. I would say there is maybe 1/16″ clearance there. On the rear, there seemed to be plenty of clearance to the suspension and brakes. But man, I hope that camber curve is aggressive because even with a roll, I think clearing the fenders will be tight. Also, after crawling under the car to check clearance I see it has a red tubular rear anti-roll bar. I assume it is a Hotchkis. It was set to the soft setting. I got the tires and wheels from Tirerack. I could have saved about $80 by buying them separately from other sources. But then I would have had to pay for mount and balance which Tirerack includes for free. Also, I ordered them Sunday. They were at my house by 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday. Tough to beat that.

As you can see, my picture background has changed. That is one of the many things that has kept me busy since last posting to the blog. Sold the old house I had been in for 9 years and moved to a new one with a 4 car garage. All while having another batch of puppies. Also, going to have my kids living with me full-time starting next week. Life is good.

Gratuitous B&W. Because art.

Gratuitous B&W. Because art.


6 responses to “Our new Autocross Mazdaspeed3 project

  1. Pingback: Autocross Mazdaspeed3 Project #2 | Vroom & BOOM!

  2. I have a bone stock MS3 Gen 1, I wanted to know if I can fit your wheel and tire setup with stock brakes and suspension, will it clear? Your car is my dream setup and it is how I envision mine to resemble. Great work.

      • So your rear tires were fine? At the time of the pictures were you on stock suspension and breaks or aftermarket? I see your brakes are drilled/slotted.

      • At the time or the picture were your coilovers in or were you on stock suspension? I see your breaks are drilled, I assume not OEM?

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