posted on December 13, 2011 00:00
Killer B’s, Honda and Mazda to Release B Segment Racers
By Mike Kojima
We can just about all agree that racing is fun. We can also agree that racing is also very expensive. It is the expense of racing that deters most of us with racing ambitions from actually taking part in wheel to wheel racing. Well the SCCA, NASA and several manufacturers of sub compact cars, known as the B Segment have gotten together to support a new affordable racing class.
|The Honda and Mazda B Spec racers are derived from the pedestrian Fit and Mazda 2 respectively. You gotta admit lowering them and putting on some graphics makes the cars look a lot less stubby and cartoonish.
To date both Mazda and Honda have embraced the program cooperating with the SCCA to draft a set of rules that will be common with SCCA, NASA, Grand Am, World Challenge and possibly our own MPTCC. Both Mazda and Honda have created inexpensive B-Spec kits that are officially homologated as legal mods for the series. Ford, Mini, Toyota and Kia have all built demo cars for the series and Nissan seems asleep at the wheel even though they have an excellent grass roots Motorsports program where this series would be a shoe in.
|B-Spec racing is designed as a very low cost way to run a late model compact car.
Although it is hard to get excited about the stubby, tall, cartoonish looking B Segment cars (hey manufacturers, you used to know how to make cool looking small cars, look to your past when designing the next generation!) when lowered with some cool wheels and racing graphics, they start to look a lot better.
|A universal set of rules adapted by SCCA, NASA, Grand Am, and World Challenge should help make the class viable.
Unlike the old Showroom stock racing trunk kits of yore, the new B-Spec kits actually make some pretty competitive and fun to drive race cars. Mazda and Honda both invited us to the Streets of Willow Springs race track to get to sample their respective B–Series racers with close to final kit specs as well as bone stock cars to contrast and compare to the racers. Let us tell you about them.
| The race kits are simple and easy to install with the only major expense besides the car being the roll cage.
First up was the stock Mazda 2
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 9:53 AM
My roommate has a Fit. I don't like it. Needs a 6th gear and a better designed interior (there is a lot of wasted space with the dashboard being set so far back). It's a good city car, but on the highway the buzzing motor gets pretty old pretty fast. It's got a lot of potential and I could see it being a fun racecar. Are there any details on this series? Any other OEMs joining the fray? I could see the Yaris, Fiesta, and Sonic hopping in on the action.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:05 AM
I'm a little bothered by this to be honest. Drum brakes, cars that look like minivans, open diffs, etc. Could the Mazda 2 really be that good in handling? I can't imagine a car with such an antiquated rear suspension setup could even compete with say an Acura Integra.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:07 AM
Yes it handles and brakes that good or we would not say it does!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:31 AM
Wow, pretty cool little series and definitely hit its mark! (affordable)
Now we need to see Nissan get involved with their Versa, Toyota with a Yaris, Ford with their 2 (fiesta) and maybe even GM with one of their compacts.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:51 AM
Mini, Ford and Toyota have built demo cars.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:59 AM
I love these cars and the article! I want a Mazda 2 race car sitting on black 949 racing wheels. I became a fan boi of this setup at the 2011 Chicago auto show when Mazda had theirs on display!
Mr. six you are not looking at this for what it is designed to be. A race series dedicated to these subcompact platforms, designed to be as reliable and inexpensive as possible to campaign. There is nothing wrong with drum brakes in a low powered car. I campaigned them on Project 200SX prior to the turbo for YEARS with nothing but aftermarket shoes and upgraded fronts. If my car was as light as these I could have gotten away with stock fronts.... That said you CANNOT compare these cars to an Integra. Two different segments. That would be like bringing a race prepped TSX or RSX to this race series and saying you are faster. Apples to kumquats my friend.
If you look at the series for what it is designed I am sure you can come up with something positive to say?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 12:15 PM
While driving the race cars, I was mad at myself for being sloppy and not getting every bit I could out of them. Even experienced drivers can be challenged/learn some important new skills and most importantly have a lot of fun in these cars. I was also impressed that the Fit came straight from the 25 hours of Thunder hill with no prep and it ran like a champ all day!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 12:20 PM
The is the nice thing about these cars and also the appeal of a series like Spec MIata. Fun to drive, great cars to learn momentum and patience in. Super fun. Lord knows I have driven a lot of underpowered cars over the years only to find myself a better driver at the end of the day because of what you have pointed out. MIQ B-Spec challenge series here we come!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 2:55 PM
How does one go about buying or preparing a car like this? Any more specifics on the race series options? Thanks!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:01 PM
There will be more info coming as Mazda and Honda finalize their kits.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:32 PM
Will Honda or Mazda provide a rollcage kit and/or roll cage installation? Will Honda or Mazda provide any trackside support for any of the aforementioned B-Spec racing series?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:35 PM
I think that the roll cage construction will be up to the car owner and will have to conform to SCCA/NASA spec. For trackside service I highly doubt it although both companies have excellent racer parts purchase programs.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 4:26 PM
I have to say before I can't read for a while (getting an eye exam) that this stuff kind of gets me excited for some grassroots fun! If I remember that Fit changed its brake pads ONCE for the whole 25hrs and that was it! I think the Mazda suffered by not switching theirs out. Oh and the skid pad numbers for the Fit were phenomenal for non-adjustable coilovers. Good stuff!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:28 PM
Thanks Mike. I hope this series survives. The low cost of entry, minimal vehicle maintenance and the growth of the B-segment in the U.S. market certainly make it promising.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:10 PM
as a Fit owner, ive been waiting for this series to come to fruition. now that its here, i look forward to seeing what the final number$ for a build might be and what a salvage Fit might cost?
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 12:22 AM
Mini has built the regular Cooper with the naturally aspirated 1.6L for this. Ford has the Fiesta built. It should be a great series!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:41 AM
Thanks Mike. I'm pleased to see this development. It's been a while since there's been a true showroom stock class that could be embraced by one or more major league racing series.
If I were to go back into the game, this is the class where I would put my eggs. Why? Low entry and maintenance costs, manufacturer support, and the possibility of national exposure.
If this class gets traction, expect grids of 40+ econo boxes you can buy right off the showroom floor. That should guarantee spectator interest as well as close fought races through the pack. Even if the action takes place at a yawn, it still might attract TV interest which would be a plus for anyone seeking sponsorship.
These days often the most entertaining club race to watch isn't the one with the GT1 cars. It's spec Miata or wreck Miata which the stewards call it here. That aside, my bet is this new B-Spec class has that same potential for attracting spectator eyeballs and willing participants.
Thursday, December 15, 2011 8:57 AM
Nice looking kits!
I just wish there was more competition for this class of car in Australia.
Would be curious to know how stiffly they had them set up?
I guess they would have to be running pretty high spring rates due to them being MacStrut, quite tall and the fail motion ratio's of beam rear cars.
Friday, December 16, 2011 11:59 AM
hate to be the guy to nitpick, but... the Mazda2 has back doors...
I was actually funny to see you say that, as I've got a 2 and I can't tell you how many times friends who were going to be riding in the back walked up to me and waited for me to move the seat before they got in, not realizing they were standing right next to a back door.
Friday, December 16, 2011 12:06 PM
haha, I don't know what I was thinking, you are right!
Saturday, December 17, 2011 10:48 PM
Looks like a fun series. Are there going to be any component claiming rules to keep people from building hot motors, or revalving their Bilsteins on their own? I can imagine the more enterprising can turn this into a Spec Miata series where engine rebuilds happen twice a season for stupid money.
Can't wait to see more, as these cars are all fun. The only dud I can see is the Yaris: indefeatable traction/stability control would necessitate ECU reflashing, and that engine has got to be the nastiest sounding, least rev-happy engine on the planet.
Monday, December 19, 2011 2:49 AM
Rockwood, I think that the FIT has indefeatable traction / stability control, too. The Mazda has a dashboard switch...
In general, without the mfr putting a system to either defeat both systems, or to turn-off the TCS / tone down the ESC -- I would think that any changes to front/rear roll stiffness, would be for naught.
Mike K -- what happens, in this regard, with the FIT?
The only other possibility is the use of something like an eEmotiv "Black Box" -- which is only available for specific cars (so very few) and which allows you to tune in the degree of under or over steer...
Thursday, December 22, 2011 2:33 AM
I've been watching the development of the B-Class for a while... interesting to note that they finally went some way to fixing the power disparity, though perhaps it would have been better to bless the Mazda2 with a set of cams or a retune rather than restrict the Fit.
The Mazda2 is a fantastic little car, and tremendous fun in canyon carving. Hell... the sedan variant (not available Stateside) is one of the most controllably tail-happy cars I've ever driven. With a two liter engine, a limited slip and ABS defeat, it'd be nigh on perfect.
Saturday, December 24, 2011 11:07 AM
So with the simple suspension change was there anything done with the camber of the cars?
With so much emphasis on suspension setups the phrase of keeping it simple really does apply here and works quite well from all the positive feedback.
It's very nice to see this series come into play and I'm anxious to see it's future. Wonderful article.
Monday, January 30, 2012 7:24 PM
In regards to the Mazda2, that doesn't appear to be a rear anti-roll (sway) bar, so what's it for?
Also, do you have any idea what the spring set-up is on the M2?