Brian could be described as a “Garage Engineer” and we mean that with the upmost respect and when you see all the effort put on his pursuit of speed and handling it definitely paid off. Check out Brian’s story in his own words in the 1st of our #spotlightMM series.
My 2013 Mazda3 SKYACTIV started out like many fresh college graduates: I hadn’t intended to do anything more than lower it, swap out the wheels, and maybe an exhaust. But once those three mods happened, I discovered the joys of the winding mountain roads above LA — the bug bit, hard, and I’ve never looked back since!
As I got more familiar with the downhill of Angeles Crest Highway I started driving faster, so I started developing the chassis to let me corner faster and faster without killing myself. Changing tires, pressures, springs, sway bars, damper settings and chassis stiffeners I slowly picked up 2-3mph at a time until the car was capable of taking corners at 3x the posted speed, and by that time it was honestly starting to get scary!
The tipping point that made me transition from street to track was the discovery that my quarter panel had separated — apparently, the body shop repair from a previous accident failed due to tire rubbing, and I could clearly see a gap between the outer and inner fender skins. With the fix possibly costing a thousand dollars though, I figured there had to be something better to do with that money. After some deliberation, a friend and I decided that it was the right time to fit fender flares, up the tire size, and turn the car into a dual-purpose street and track machine.
After cutting the car open and welding the metal back together, I sourced a set of four front ZG Flares to just barely cover my wheel and tire setup of choice: 285/30/18 Bridgestone RE11 and 18×10.5 Enkei NT03+M NT03+M. With 12mm and 10mm spacers to clear the suspension, this combo added tons of grip without putting excessive strain on the car’s wheel bearings, important because sometimes it catches air! After an incident that left my front struts bent, I upgraded the BC Racing to a custom double-adjustable, digressively-valved setup with 550lb/650lb Hypercoil springs and a CorkSport 28.5mm rear sway bar to trim the handling balance. And to counter the Mazda3’s habit of getting light at speed, I hacked up an Evo IX Voltex (replica) diffuser which happened to improved highway fuel mileage to a recorded 37mpg to and from the track.
After finding the limits of mechanical grip at Streets Of Willow, I went back to the drawing board and designed a full aerodynamics package for the 3. A 74″ wide, chassis-mounted front splitter now makes ~100lbs of downforce at 90mph, balanced out by a PCI P1 wing with custom uprights that makes up to 250lbs, stabilizing the car when the rear sway bar starts to make things twitchy. The most recent test at the track suggests that the whole splitter-diffuser-wing package is quite nicely balanced! All the car needs now is a power overhaul (coming soon 😉 ) and I will have myself the complete package: a clean street/track car that grips, rips, and still gets good mileage on the daily commute.