Before making any modifications, I wanted to get a baseline for the car's weight and balance. This "before" measurement is with me in it, 100% stock with the full interior and the automatic transmission.
The "base weight" for my class is 3255lbs, which is a measure of the minimum weight the car is allowed to be on track, with driver and at the end of the race after fuel has been burned off. So ~250lbs need to come off. Should be doable, between the sunroof, seats, interior panels, carpet, windows, sound deadening tar, etc. I'm also allowed to use carbon body panels and a lexan windshield if necessary.
The seats and the carpet were the first to go.
Maybe I'm just used to dealing with older cars, but it seemed remarkably clean under there. No nasty liquids, grunge, or poo stains, just a single, solitary, presumably stale Goldfish. I'm also liking how all of the plastic bits come apart without much of a fuss. On 25+ year old Mazdas, the interior parts will break if you look at them wrong, sometimes even if you look at them right and they are just in a dodgy mood.
Plenty more stripping to be done, but then I moved on to do some suspension work. I'm using a fair number of FIGS Engineering parts on this car. I've had some experience with Mike's parts before, on Joe's drift car and on the 3IS endurance car so I'm already intimately familiar with how well designed and built they are. Mike is a hell of a guy too, and I couldn't be happier to have his stuff on the car.
First up, the rear toe links:
Using these does a few things; the length is adjustable, which means we can set the factory eccentric bolt to the furthest inboard position and lengthen the rod out. That will make the rod follow a larger arc, reducing the amount of bump steer for a given amount of suspension travel. Of course, the rubber bushing is also eliminated in favor of a spherical joint. On a track with sticky race tires, the forces applied to the bushings are a good bit higher than the factory ones were designed for. One place you certainly don't want a lot of deflection is on the bushing that determines the direction the wheels are steering. This should be a nice improvement to stability and predictability.
Next, it was the MEGAarms.
These do even more. First, they are lighter and stronger than stock. The factory arms aren't boxed, so they will twist from the torque of the engine and, essentially, not put that power through the wheels. These are boxed, so they don't have that problem. Next, the lower shock mount is slotted. This means you can make small adjustments to the motion ratio of the rear suspension. The farther out you push it, the stiffer the spring (and shock) act. Ultimately it would awesome if the motion ratio was higher from the factory, but this will have to do. There are three choices for the sway bar end link mount, which means you can get them closer to being perpendicular to the bar itself (or farther, depending on how much leverage you'd like). Just like the toe rods, these eliminate the rubber bushing and replace it with a spherical joint. The lower arm will be the most stressed member during lateral load, so this will play a big part in making sure the wheels are pointed where you want them while cornering. And of course, these are length-adjustmable, which means you get way more camber adjustment than stock.
I've done some more work on the front end and interior, but I don't have any photos yet, so those will have to wait for next time