In this article I am going to attempt to lay out the full cost of building a Mazda 2 1.5 sport DE race car and explain exactly where the money goes and why some parts cost so much.
I want to make it clear from the beginning that Steve and I are not flush with cash there are better and more expensive parts available in some cases yet we have chosen what offered us the best performance for our budget.
Some of you may know this build was originally destined to go sprinting. A totally different concept to racing as you have only one person on track at a time and you compete against the clock not against each other. Fastest time wins. The rules for sprinting are far more relaxed then those of racing. In some sprint series you don't even require a roll cage, though one is always recommended.
I was half way through converting my Mazda 2 into a sprint car when a gentleman called Aaron from Island Garage in staffordshire messages me on facebook and asked if I would be interested in seeing how the Mazda 2 stacks up against the Mk1 MX5 in proper racing. After exchanging messages, a phone call and literally no persuasion on Arron's part I had agreed to go racing and committed to being on the grid in 2021.
A day or so later after reading the regulations for the Mazda mx5 championship, the challenge ahead really hit home in my mind and the enormity of the task ahead was realised. Two thoughts were very prominent, firstly I've never built a car to a set specification before, so i'm lacking experience here even though I've been sprinting and doing track days for years. Secondly, I need to tell my wife to be that I've promised to get involved in a very expensive hobby while at the same time we save up for our wedding. A decision which wasnt going to be popular. Credit to Claire she handled the news exceedingly well.
On the racing front one element I and any potential sponsors have going for us is that mx5 racing is very popular so there is always a good crowd and my little Mazda 2 will stick out like a sore thumb on the grid next to them. Some of the mk1 MX5s are also approaching 40 years old so its possible if an alternative fun and cost effective series could be found it would prove very popular. Welcome to Mazda 2 racing.
To the build and its costs.
The build can be split into two sections. Mandatory equipment and optional equipment. Mandatory includes the likes of a roll cage, seat, harness, electrical safety and fire suppression. optional equipment is choice of brakes and suspension ect.
Attempting to keep costs down I have elected to keep the car as standard as possible. No upgrade to the engine bar a KN panel filter and a high quality oil filter.
Suspension has been changed to JOM coilovers. A great off the self kit that's height adjustable, has well matched springs and dampers but no damping adjustment. For the cost they are proving excellent on road and track. A Whiteline rear anti roll bar has been fitted to reduce body roll and increase the rate of ratation through a corner and front 2.0 degree camber bolts have been fitted to aid turn in and mid corner stability.
Tyres are open to my choice at the moment as I will be the only person in my class in the first races. Avon have been hugely helpful and working with the design brief have produced a new competition tyre based on the popular ZV7 road tyre which will soon be listed in the Blue book. A video on this tyre will be uploaded to our YouTube channel soon.
The new competition tyre will have half the number of sipes on the inner shoulder and first two bands of tread but will have no sipes in the out band and shoulder compared to the picture above giving a semi slick style tyre.
Brakes, I have chosen to utilise Black Diamond predator pads and G6 grooved discs. the pads are classed as a track road hybrid which should be perfect for the light weight Mazda 2. I also oped for a six grooved disc as opposed to the twelve groove black Diamond also offer. both will evacuate gas and clean the pads at the rate needed for track use but the G6 is £20 cheaper then the G12.
Cost to this point for the car and optional equipment. Showing RRP prices from 2RacingUK.com shop.
Car = £450
Coilovers = £200
Rear anti roll bar = £115
Camber bolts = £20
K&N filter = £45
Avon Tyres = £65 per corner
Brake pads = £45
Brake discs = £99
Total so far = £1054. Pretty reasonable, no?
mandatory equipment does come at premium prices because its equipment everyone has to have so manufactures can charge what they like. All the following parts must have FIA certification to show its made to the correct minimum standard.
The Roll Cage is the biggest and hardest to source part. I have had quotes ranging from £800 to £5000. the latter price being for a cage to be imported from the USA. The rules say this must be a six point bolt or weld in frame made of a specific type of tube and must also include a singe door bar and rear diagonal as a minimum. The roll cage is also the single heaviest part to be added to the car so finding a good compromise between safety and fast enough to be competitive is an equation most racers will go through.
The seat has not arrived yet but will be a OMP TRS-X steel frame with a fixed back and loops for a 5 point harness. The harness has not been ordered yet as it can be left to the end of the build process but I will be using a LUKE with five point attachments to save me from submarining under heavy braking and a head on collision. Both the seat and harness will be mounted to the correct points specified in the blue book.
The competition rules say the battery must be moved and relocated to the interior of the cabin or boot. As the Mazda 2 is a hatchback the interior and boot are basically the same thing so i'm choosing to locate the battery behind the passenger seat on the floor. this requires some additional wiring and a new emergency cut off switch to kill the engine in a crash. I will be using the standard battery to begin with so a waterproof battery box and cage are needed to prevent the battery leaking should the worst happen and the car end up on its roof as acid flying round the cabin wouldn't be an enjoyable result. Like wise if the battery was left in the engine bay and the car suffered a fire acidic fumes wont be popular with the marshals.
The last mandatory item is the fire suppression system. a fire extinguisher and a couple of pipes with nozzles on to aim the extinguisher contents at the engine and other areas likely to catch fire in an accident. The extinguisher is normally filled with either power or CO2 both of which smother the fire by starving it of oxygen.
So at the the final cost.
car and optional equipment = £1053
Seat = £220
Harness = £110
Battery box = £78
Battery cage = £22
Cut off switch = £37
Additional wiring = £16
Fire suppression system = £175
Total to build a Mazda 2 1.5 sport race car = £2712
To help with the build fund. I have been able to sell a few bits of the interior of the car such as the speakers and drivers seat, mirror mechanisms and window switches which has put £250 back into the kitty making my total as the car sits today
AS can be seen above 2/3 of the build budget has gone towards mandatory safety equipment. Making the car handle and stop properly can be done for a very fair price. I would like to add there is nothing stopping anyone using any of the optional equipment listed to make their road car more fun to drive as everything is road legal.
As I also stated at the very start there are far more expensive products available particularly when looking at coilovers where prices can run in to the thousands if you want them to. but for my level of driver ability and the likely hood that parts may need to be replaced sure to damage during a race season, the JOM kit we have chosen is a great place to start.
If anyone has any questions about the parts I'm using or the progress of any of the 2Racing cars please do comment on this post or email Steve or I at firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you wish to sponsor the DE race car please email. I would be delighted to discuss how we can offer you, your staff and your customers something special.