Jeff Cashmore's Spec RX7 Racing Page

This page last updated on 10/22/03

Update: I sold the car after the 2000 season when I got married

For the WAI home page click here.


So you want to go road racing on a budget, huh? You don't want to be out-spent, you don't fit into Formula Vee's and Vintage racing doesn't call out to you? Then Spec RX7 may be just the ticket. SCCA's Milwaukee region ran it as an ITA sub-class in 1999 and the Cendiv Regional Championship Series will support it in 2000. We had 4 cars running in the Milw/Chicago area and at last count there were a half dozen new cars being built. We're using the same highly successful rules that the Southern Pacific/Rocky Mountain/Northeast Divisions are using.
The Souther Pacific Spec RX7 rules are now online.
The idea is to find an inexpensive used 1981-1985 Mazda RX7 ($1-2500) and install a 'kit' (springs, cage, etc.) that you can buy ($1400-2000) locally from any number of dealers, such as A&M Motorsports - Mike Alexander 847-746-8466, National Auto Transport - Mark Greenisen 414-335-6666, and Pegasus Auto Racing Supplies - Bob Clark 800-688-6946. Don't be fooled by the term 'cheap racing'. There's no such thing. After you've spent $5000 on the car, tires are about $100 apiece, entry fees are $150-200, brake pads are $120 a set, etc. For those of us driving our street legal cars to the track beware, stuff happens. Brake calipers fail, accidents, etc. But if you wrap it around a tree it's not $20,000 for another car. Besides, you could easily spend $5,000 on a go-kart package. If you truly want cheap racing in a 'real car' then try Autocrossing.
Spec Rx7 is not to be confused with the NASA PRO 7 class. We did get the class added to the American Road Race of Chamipions at Road Atlanta for the year 2000.
Click me!!
Jeff's 1983 Mazda RX7 GSL
You want more info/pictures?
The National SCCA web site has info on Club Racing.
Rocky Mountain Spec Rx7 info
MARRS Spec Rx7 page
Bruce Crawford's page. Bruce used to compete out east in the MARRS series
Pictures/Info from Jeff's 4/3/99 IRP drivers school
Pictures/Info from Jeff's first race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI
Pictures/Info from Jeff's Grattan, MI double regional
Pictures & video from the 8/1/99 Cat National road race
Pictures from the 5/14/00 Susie Bonneau regional
You're still interested? Here's a list of things to do...
1. Read the licensing guide, join the SCCA, fill out the license application and medical form (you have to see your doctor, yuck!) and sign up for a drivers school.
2. I highly recommend attending a few Solo II/Autocross events to inexpensively learn about car control. For more info see the Milwaukee Region page and the WAI pages here and here.
3. Buy a car! See Trader Online or the Parts Trader. The most important thing to look for is rust. From the interior, pull off the leather-like coverings on top of the rear wheel wells. This is the most likely rust spot, right where you want to mount the roll cage! Don't be afraid of cars with 150k miles on them. That's why we're using Rotaries, because they last. Most leak a little oil from the side motor housings. Unfortunately, you can either live with it or rebuild the motor for about $1500. If anyone knows of a local rotary rebuilder, please let me know. You don't need a Limited Slip Differential, but if you want one and you don't buy a GSL, you can buy used GSL rear ends for $200-$500 and bolt them on. You'll now have rear disk brakes too. For more info on brakes see the brake link.
4. Buy the 'kit'. See the phone numbers above. Mike and Mark will also install the kit for you (for a nominal fee, of course. $400 in Mike's case.). It's nice to get your annual tech inspection done before the drivers school. I had too many last minute details to take care of, such as taping up the turn signals (use clear box tape) and drilling the holes in cage to check it's thickness, (read your GCR!). Technically, you don't need the suspension pieces, only the safety items to be legal for the class. Diamond Industries (414-744-2010) in Milwaukee is selling a 15 lb, 13x7 inch, 4x110mm bolt pattern, 4 inch backspace, steel rim for only $59.
5. Join the Mazda Motorsports program at 800-435-2508. You'll get a price break on parts when mail ordering from their catalog.
6. Look at the Cendiv schedule and decide how many events you want to attend. Remember, Improved Touring is a Regional only class (no Runoffs for you, rice boy!). Road America and Blackhawk Farms are only an hour away from Milwaukee. You can also Autocross your Spec RX7 in the CSP class or run with Midwestern Council for more seat time.
7. Call CUT/Vilven tire (217-583-3244) or the Tire Rack to order some Toyo tires at a little over $100 apiece. I did 6 events on one set of tires and they still have one more left in them. Don't bother shaving them and disregard the L/R markings (left/right) on the sidewalls, it doesn't matter which side of the car you put them on. Also, after the tread is half gone you can remount them 'inside out'. The rears will wear evenly but the fronts wear the outside more on our camber challenged cars. Most folks start at 29 lbs cold and let them work up to 31-32. Add a little more if it's wet out.
8. Call Pegasus Auto Racing Supplies (800-688-6946), IO Port Racing, or Racer Wholesale to buy a SA-95 helmet, suit, gloves, etc.
9. Go sponsorship hunting to help out your tire budget and order up some graphics. GCR section 12.5 applies along with an additional #7. ie: our class designation will be ITA7. This will make it easy to travel to regions that don't support the sub-class yet.
10. Have fun racing!!
Frequently Asked Questions
"Why can't we use 1979-1980 models?" The 79-80 cars are a little different than the later 1st gens. Besides the bumpers, gearing, motor side housings, etc. the biggest difference is that they used a thermal reactor instead of a catalytic converter. No other Spec Rx7 group in the country allows them either. This was published in the Aug 97 Sportscar article on Spec Rx7's.
"Can I adjust my steering wheel/pedals?" I've talked with the west coast guys and they interpret the rules to allow any steeing wheel/hub combo and aftermarket pedals or shift knob. These are considered 'comfort and convienence' items but may be technically illegal.
"Can I use the lighter rotors and flywheel together?" No. Any year motor can be used in any year body but everything in the motor has to be from the same year, this includes the flywheel. The 81-82 rotors are slightly lighter but it used the slightly heavier flywheel. The 83-85 rotors where slightly heavier but it used a slightly lighter flywheel. You can't just bolt up the lighter flywheel to the earlier motor anyway, there's a modification you need. Transmissions are not considered part of the motor, so any year tranny can be used with any year motor.
"What's a lollipop?" It's a tool that's used to check the legality of exhaust ports on a rotary motor. I saw it used at this years ARRC and it works as advertised. After pulling off the exhaust manifold you push it into the exhaust port. If it passes into the rotor housing, the port has been enlarged and it's illegal. That or the rotor housing is from an earlier RX2 or RX3 motor which are NOT legal for Spec 7 use. These came with larger exhaust ports and Mazda Motorsports still sells them. You can identify them by looking at the top of the housing, drivers side just behind the distributor. The MAZDA logo is in caps with a slight slant. The legal 12a housings are in lowercase with no slant. More info to follow.
"Do I need the earlier oil cooler?" No. The 81-82 cars had a slightly smaller radiator with a large oil cooler underneath it. The 83-85 cars have a larger radiator and the oil cooler is underneath the oil filter. The guys are running both setups successfully out in the Arizona heat so I don't think it matters which one you have.
"Why can't we use radios/data acquisition systems?" Because they cost too much. I believe the theory is that they don't provide enough bang for the buck. The class concept is based on "cheaper is better". After you've got $5000 into the car another $1500 just for radios is a lot of money. The majority of the target audience are newbies and would rather spend it on tires, brake pads, entry fees, etc. I've heard the radio/safety argument, but if it held that much water, radios would be manditory in all cars. There is a definate advantage to having radios for starts, calling out lap times, race strategy, etc. Why else would you want one in the first place? The rule does allow the use of a single in-car stop watch and/or video camera. Again, please remember that none of the other divisions allow radios and that the rules will be reviewed at the end of the year.
"Why are we using this rules package anyway?" Because it works! Just look at the size of the fields the other groups have. We're not reinventing the wheel here. The formula works, and as the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". For instance, the group in Texas is the only group allowing headers. Now they can't use those cars in neighboring divisions or in the future at the American Road Race of Champions. The same would go for fuel cells & 'Nascar style' door bars. If you insist on spending more money to race, I'd suggest moving on up to the ITA or EP groups.
"I'm still not sure I can afford it, how can I cut my costs some more?" One idea is to find a partner and share the car/costs. With a little bit of travel, most folks have the potential of a dozen events to choose from but can only afford to make half of them (if that many). It's possible to share the car building costs with someone else (you still need your own personal gear, maybe tires/rims/brake pads) and have a better car. Car storage and tow vehicle details would have to be worked out along with a crash damage/repair arrangement but it could work.
"Is there any way to make some money back on my 'investment'?" Besides renting your car out at about $800 a race, Toyo offers tire contingency's. I've heard that Carbotech is offering a discount on Hawk brake pads if you run their sticker but I can't find any details yet.
If you have questions about anything else please e-mail me or come on down to the Competition/Board meetings. The schedule for which is up on the Milwaukee Region home page.
More helpful Mazda RX7 links
  • MARRS Rx7 mailing list, east coast Spec 7 email list info. There's also a west coast list, send mail to spec-7@synxis.com.
  • Mazda USA home page
  • History of the Wankel Rotary motor.
  • History of the RX7
  • 1st gen facts 1979-1985
  • Early model differences
  • 1st gen FAQ
  • 1st gen Tech articles Starting your flooded Rotary, etc.
  • Steering Box replacement tips
  • Felix's place He truly is 'Mr. Mazda', great links section.
  • Rotary Performance Bret de Pedro's shop builds Spec 7's in West Virginia.
  • Mazdatrix CA parts dealer and more. Nice FAQ too.Revo 4 spoke wheel
  • Lockwood Performance sells used 1st gen parts, located in Michigan
  • Mazda Auto Dismantler Cali parts dealer and more.
  • Mazda Recycler
  • Car Part finder
  • Sun Auto Used parts/engines from PA
  • American Road Race of Champions info on the ARRC.
  • www.improvedtouring.com All sorts of IT info.
  • NASA home page, SCCA like group
  • Ground Control sells parts for Rx7's
  • Diamond racing wheels are located in Milwaukee, WI
  • Revolution wheels for sale here.
  • Simpson race helmet info.
  • Texas Spec Rx7 info
  • Spec7.org discussion pages
  • Road America track web site - Elkart Lake, WI
  • Blackhawk Farms track web site - Beloit, WI
  • SCCA Central Division web site, track info, etc.
  • More racing links off the WAI homepage
  • Rotary web rings Lot's of links
  • More RX7 links than you could ever hope for.
  •  
    I hope you found this page helpful. If you did, feel free to buy me a beer when you see me. Better yet, buy a corner worker a beer and say it's from the Spec RX7 group!
     

    You can reach me by e-mail here in freezing cold Milwaukee, WI

    Counter total visitors since this page was created on 3/8/98

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    Jeff Cashmore.

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