With America’s B-Segment booming, subcompact cars are becoming the fastest growing market in the United States today. Some attribute this to rising fuel costs or a down economy, but maybe today’s American car buyer is realizing Europe’s little secret: You don’t have to drive an SUV to haul your family of three.
One possibility may be more and more manufactures are going with the “less is more” motto. Today’s subcompact cars are safer, roomier, and offer the same technological capabilities as their bigger brothers. They have twice as much horsepower as their 1980’s counterparts, while still providing outstanding fuel economy. And lets not forget how devilishly handsome they have become. However, not everyone shares this perspective. If you strip down most subcompacts, they’re small, cheap, and underpowered. Sounds a bit degrading, unless you’re building a racecar. In that case, it actually sounds a bit enticing.
A few years ago, the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) developed a B Spec (subcompact) class that falls within the showroom stock category. Technical jargon aside, it was developed to create a class possessing the smallest, cheapest cars in a manufacturer’s line-up, while restricting engine modifications creating an even playing field. It seems they’ve created a class which caters to small, inexpensive, underpowered cars. Perfect for those on a tight budget or those looking for a new challenge. You could say SCCA took the “less is more” motto and ran with it.
Earlier this year, Twin Cities Luxury Auto was approached by a loyal client who was interested in building a new racecar. The client, a motorsports enthusiast, was drawn in by the principles of the B-Spec class: challenging, affordable and fun. So we sat down with the client and TCLA’s Michael Ashby, an experienced motorsports driver with Mazda, to discuss the ins and outs. After months of collaboration, the idea of building a spec series racecar became a reality.
With joint efforts of both Morrie’s Minnetonka Mazda and Twin Cities Luxury Auto, our Mazda 2 B-spec racecar build is underway. Please follow us on this journey and continue to check our progress here on the blog.
Phase 1 : (the mechanical stuff)
The vehicle that we are using is a 2012 Mazda 2 Sport. Since Mazda has their own factory racing division (Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development) and their own B-Spec Mazda 2, we were able to obtain a B-Spec “prep” kit to get started. The kit features almost everything needed to build a B-Spec racecar minus wheels and tires, safety equipment, and a roll cage.
The kit includes:
Front & Rear Bilstein shocks
Eibach Front & Rear Helper Springs
Eibach Front Race Springs
Hypertech Rear Race springs
MAZDASPEED Adjustable Rear Sway Bar
MAZDASPEED Adjustable Front Sway Bar Link
Front Camber Bolts
Stop-Tech Stainless Braided Brake Lines (Front and Rear)
MAZDASPEED Free-Flowing Cat-Back Exhaust
MAZDASPEED Oil Cooler Kit
A/C Delete Kit (which consists of an idler pulley)
The 2, being a subcompact, is very easy to manipulate. With its mechanical simplicity, an engineering degree is not required to dissemble it. And let’s not forget how spacious the engine compartment is in most import vehicles (shown below in our gallery). We began with the suspension components. Here you can see the drastic difference in the size between the Bilstein shocks with the springs assembled versus the stock shock assembly. Also, notice the base of the Bilstein shock and the mounting points.
The 2 does not come standard with a rear sway bar. To prevent excessive body roll on the track, an adjustable rear sway bar was installed, along with the new rear suspension. The front and rear suspension is height adjustable, and with the use of special wrenches that were provided, you can adjust the height of the vehicle to lower the center of gravity.
After all the suspension components were installed, we swapped out the OEM brake lines with the Stop-Tech stainless braided lines. The purpose of the new brake lines is to provide better braking efficiency. Since stainless steel doesn’t expand like rubber, it maintains more direct hydraulic pressure (more direct feel on the brakes). Longevity is an added bonus with stainless steel too. Next, we removed the air conditioning compressor. Although air conditioning isn’t used during a race (due to loss in horsepower), the compressor adds a significant amount of weight. The compressor is then replaced with an idler pulley to retain the use of the OEM serpentine belt.
Heat is one of the biggest factors in engine efficiency. When too much heat is present during combustion, it can plague engine efficiency and cause a number of other issues. Although we weren’t running an endurance car, some minor changes were made to aid the cooling system. We started by removing the air conditioning condenser, which is mounted in front of the radiator in a special housing. To access this housing we had to remove the front bumper assembly and headlamps. Next, we installed the MAZDASPEED oil cooler that was provided in the kit. The oil cooler is a “sandwich” style cooler, so it mounts directly to the factory oil filter mounting point. A water line running from the engine block to the throttle body was “tapped” and routed to the new cooler.
As day one drew to a close, we were pleased with the progress. Phase one of the build was done, and as shown below, there is a noticeable difference in ground clearance with the new suspension. Next we move into phase two, the diet. It will consist of removing the interior trim to drop weight from the vehicle and prep for the roll cage. Stay tuned for more progress on the Mazda 2 B-Spec racecar!
Stay tuned for Phase 2!