Mazda RX8 Cup: Grassroots Motorsport Developing Future Champions
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Mazda RX8 Cup: Grassroots Motorsport Developing Future Champions

By JohnBowe - 15 August 2022

Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep interest in all things motoring but a particular interest in Motorsport.

Grassroots Motorsport is of particular interest to me because it's where every racing driver and, dare I say it, future champion starts. Be it Motorkana, Club Karting or Formula Vee, they all provide a reasonable price starting point as not everyone has wealthy parents or affluent families. Money is a necessary evil in Motorsport, but it does not always equate to success or an easy path, although having said that, it sure does help.

With all this in mind, a long-standing friend of mine, Ric Shaw from Sydney, who has raced, built and championed Mazda race cars for decades, has developed a grassroots category with a lot of merit. Based mainly in New South Wales, the category is known as RX8 Cup, and the cars are Mazda RX8s. The category does venture into Victoria and Queensland, creating lots of exposure and opportunities to showcase your ability.

Ric invited me to race one at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend, which I gladly accepted because 'racing is racing', and I've always loved the rotary engines in Mazda's history.

As a racing category with a roof, I reckon this one ticks all the boxes.
The body is standard but has a Motorsport Australia spec roll cage and a fully approved FIA race seat. The mechanical spec is set in every way, engine, gearbox, diff ratio and LSD, gearbox and ECU are all standard, meaning no fiddling or fudging.

The category is run under the rules of Motorsport Australia, which provides the technical expert eligibility team. The suspension is controlled, as developed by Ric Shaw and his team, so costs are kept low. The tyres are Nankang R spec semi-slicks which cost less than $1000 and will be competitive for multiple races. From what I experienced, the category constantly checks the specs to ensure no one ventures beyond what is ok. That in itself is very important.

Now, the most crucial point for people wanting to get into racing or wishing to change to an affordable category is the cost. Speaking to most of the competitors, of which there were 26, sometimes they have more than 30 racers on the grid. Most are on the grid for between 25 - 30 thousand dollars. Trust me, that's very cheap for a turn-key race car.

The engines will do anything from two to three seasons between refreshes. Brake pads are spec and cheap, and clutches are simple and not expensive. The only real freedom is wheel alignment and tyre pressures.

What are they like to drive? I hear you ask.
I was incredibly impressed; they are fun, forgiving and relatively quick.
Slightly faster in lap times than the high-profile Toyota 86 Gazoo Racing class. For me, the enjoyment factor was 10 out of 10.

And the racing is super competitive, hardcore, no holds barred racing, which is why it's suitable for driving development. Competitors ranged from a 15-year-old young lady rookie racer to veterans like me and everyone in between.

With the Young Category Champion Tom Shaw!

And no, I didn't win; my best race result was fourth after qualifying second. The three young blokes in front of me had a combined age that was still short of my age, proving that it's a great grassroots class of Motorsport. If you're interested, look up the Mazda RX8 Cup or get in touch with me, and I'll share more thoughts. It's a terrific form of Motorsport for the enthusiast.

JB