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Racing Adventures: Motorsport Retro goes racing in the Mazda MX5 Cup

Submitted by on May 15, 2018

Here is a quick wrap of my racing adventures from the recent the second round of the 2018 NSW Mazda MX-5 Cup.

Pre Race

The car was too soft during the first round at Wakefield Park, so heavier springs all round were ordered. There was also the issue of a gear box noise and oil leak, so a second hand 6 speed from a 2002 model was suggested and installed by David and the crew at MX 5 Mania, just in time for the race.

There were also important cosmetic issues to attend to like the need for custom made billet aluminium wheel inserts. These beauties were hand crafted by my Dad Ray, who said they could be worth 1/2 a second per lap! The Mazda speed badges set them off.

Race day tuned up, so I jumped in the little Mazda and drove to the hour down to Sydney Motorsport Park. Raymo took his car with a couple of tables, some sandwiches, a toolbox and a jack.

Qualifying

I have never driven the Mazda at SMP before, I have raced lots of different machinery thereĀ  from Formula Fords, Formula 3, Porsches, Lotus, and Radicals, so I was looking forward to seeing how the Mazda would behave and how we can make it go faster.

The heavier springs were a general improvement, but the balance was still not great with understeer on the way into the corners with a bit of snap overseteer at the apex through most of it. We are still lacking power too.

We end up P16 out of 26 runners including a historic touring car class. I have six MX5s behind me and run a 1:55.3. We make some changes to the suspension clickers to try and dial out some understeer for race one.

Race 1

I make a pretty decent start, fumble with the gearbox and manage to avoid a dive bomber at turn 1, while four cars wide. For the rest of the lap I drive around in 5th gear, until the hairpin where I begin to get my shit together. It’s embarrassing. Im really struggling with how close the gate is and how short the throw is with this new gearbox. Anyway I have a few OK laps and I think manage to hold off most of the MX5 guys and have a good battle with a Chris Collet in a Cooper S. He was driving the wheels off it and was good to watch. I finish P16. Good enough for a Class C win. The car is still a bit of a handful. Its not using all the tyre properly, we need more camber, but will need new parts for that. We make a tyre pressure change, grab lunch and prepare for Race 2.

Race 2

Race 2 is actually a bit of a blur. Fairly uneventful. Towards the end she started to run a bit hot, so I spent most of the time looking at the temperature gauge. Fellow competitor Verne Johnson had told me that once the standard gauge goes a bit past halfway, its basically overheating. So I was contemplating coming in, as it was well past half way! Paul Nudd caught me in the final few laps and pipped me on the line to nick the class win by a tenth.

Race 3 and aftermath

Unfortunately there was a big delay from an accident during the regularity which meant race 3 was scheduled for just 3 laps. With the car running pretty hot and all in one piece, I decided to head home for an early beer and dinner with my pit crew.

Todd Herring won the day in his beastly NA model setting a new MX5 lap record for SMP.

Thanks to Derek from European Autotech, David from MX5-mania, and David from Leatherman

Fowler Team Pit crew – Tom, Rich, Jack and Ray

 

Engine updates for round 2 were limited to a faster oil cap

The race winning turbo charged NA of Todd Herring

Our Leatherman tool was always on hand.

Raymos custom billet wheel inserts with el cheapo Mazdaspeed stickers

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