View Full Version : 323 Question

05-06-2002, 05:52 PM
Just wondered how common the Mazda 323 is in ITB competition??

05-06-2002, 06:38 PM
No one races one in the Rocky Mountain Division. Mostly BMW's (in ITB) out here. What division are you from or state rather?

05-06-2002, 07:01 PM
Well, I live in West Virginia...I'll be racing most likely in the Central divison. I have seen a couple of pics (read: 2) of ITB prepped 323s...I believe one was in New York, the other was (I think) near Chicago.

05-06-2002, 09:18 PM
We have a guy at Waterford with a GLC. Quite similar I believe.
And I race a Festiva, your car's smaller brother.
Are you new to the car? I'll try to dig up a contact for Mike (with the GLC). I know most of his setup in rough terms though. What you after?


05-06-2002, 09:33 PM
It would be VERY interesting to see if you could get one down to the IT spec weight of 2060#. IF you could, it would be darn near the lightest ITB car out there. It doesn't have much power, relative to the competition but...


05-06-2002, 11:41 PM
And ANOTHER thing...

The 1989 version of that car is spec'd 130# heavier than the '86-88 - and all of the other specifications are identical.

This IT weight anomoly has been brought to you by the creators of other great mysteries of our time - the Bermuda Triangle, El Chupacabra, and the odd color of Alan Bestwick's skin.

Greg Gauper
05-07-2002, 09:48 AM
You forgot El Nino.

05-07-2002, 09:57 AM
I'm not new to the car at all...actually, it's my first car that I got when I turned 16 (I'm 22 now), and I've done quite a few modifications to it for street. So you could say I know my way around it http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif . Yes, the GLC is very similar...I've seen pics, but I dont believe I've ever really looked at one in person. As for your question about the weight, the 323s are pretty light. Mine is the heaviest model (its a sedan, for one, and the 'luxury' model, for another). It currently weights 2550lbs with myself (230lbs) in the car, and a full tank of fuel. I don't have my GCR yet, and I dont want to get flamed for asking a stupid question... but I assume I can strip out the interior pretty much other than dash...and of course my stereo has got to go...thats probably close to a hundred pounds right there. I enjoy wrenching on the car, and I am planning on taking a couple years to get the car ready. And yes, the car is quite underpowered...I'm pulling 84hp at the wheels at the moment with quite a few mods.
As for why the '89s are spec'd heavier, I'll have to get back to you. Thanks!

05-08-2002, 12:04 AM
You are right that it is a really important FIRST step to get a copy of the GCR. Order from www.scca.org (http://www.scca.org) or get in touch with your local region.

Be warned that most of the engine modifications you have made may well be illegal in IT. The rules always seem very limiting to people who are used to common improvements made to street cars...

Since it sounds like you are really into building your current car - rather than buying - start by assuming that you will need to put something in the neighborhood of $3000 into it, to be track ready. Basic stuff - no frills, not including track equipment, tow vehicle, trailer, or driver's gear.

Have fun!


05-08-2002, 02:28 AM
I know you have heard this from everyone until you are tired of hearing it but.......DON'T BUILD - BUY! I was exactly in your position a few years ago. I was absolutely positive that I would really enjoy the achievement of building my own racecar. I ignored all the dummies who had been racing for years who told me to buying was better than building. Two years of frustration and wasted time later, I happened on the same make and model (1st Gen Mazda Rx-7) that I was building, ready to race for a THIRD of what I had into a car that was still not ready to run! The racing is the fun part, and you will get more time that you want working on the car AFTER you buy a fully prepped car - trust me. Good racecars sell ALL THE TIME for fifty cents on the dollar (or less). Save your money and get out there and drive!

05-08-2002, 10:20 AM
He's got a case of TSS - twenty-something-syndrome - and won't listen to any of us old farts, Boswoj. Gotta love him for it, though - you MUST look back fondly on all of the symptoms...

** Tools don't count as expenses because they are "capital" that you will have as investments in the racing career

** The hardware, plumbing, wiring, and cans of paint/fluids/etc to install part X will not cost anything

** This will be cool and it only costs $50

** I will be earning money as I build the car so it won't matter that I am currently spending more than I can pay off each month

** The time when I am not working or building the car can be spent putting together sponsor deals

** I heard somewhere that only NERDS really care if you take out the rear wiper, passenger door window, dashboard and stock wiring harness

** I don't care if I am competitive or not

** Nobody will care if I use this "street" cam, since I'm not competitive

** If I subtract from the cost, what I could sell the car for when done, I haven't spent THAT much

** Since I've been driving it, I know how it handles, so it will be easier to learn to go really fast

** $1500 to rent a race car for just ONE WEEKEND? That's insane! I could do it for way less than that

** I will start with the stuff that I know how to do (like stripping the interior) before budgeting $1000 a cage - it has to be done first, anyway, right?

** I already have X dollars sunk into this project - it would be stupid to not spend whatever it takes to finish it. (Remember the hemorrhage of money before the first school? Drunken sailors got nothin' on someone with a novice permit in his hands!)

Seriously, 323. I know that some people have to touch the stove to find out that it is hot - I was one of those guys - but it is possible to learn from others' mistakes. If you do start to build your car, you do so only by promising that you will come back to this forum in the spring of 2005 and give us a full report. It might work out wonderfully and, if so, I will do the "I was wrong" dance in front of the entire board. On the other hand, the odds are against it.



05-08-2002, 10:30 AM
Ditto Boswoj. Save your dollars up, even if it takes a while and buy a car...one you've seen race and you know its history. You've already hit on a key issue for the 323...lack of finding resources to support you. I'd recommend buying a car that there is plenty of parts and expertise available. And if you ever go to sell your race car, you'll have lots of buyers. Of course we're pretty partial to RX-7's around this thread...

Tom Donnelly
05-08-2002, 04:29 PM
I just have one thing to say about build versus buy. You won't know how to properly build a race car until you have the experience driving a race car or working on a team. From my own experience you will pay half to buy a car than what it takes to build. Not counting the mistakes made in buying a 'trick' part you read about in a magazine that not only made you slower but emptied your wallet as well. Like the wrong shocks/springs/LSD/ring and pinion. And you barely hit the track yet. When you find yourself comparing the cost of everything to a set of tires (ie: no track time without tires), you can think about building. Just ask yourself what you would rather do, drive or build.

I guess that wasn't just one thing.


05-08-2002, 04:35 PM
You guys do make some valid arguments...maybe if the right car comes along...

05-08-2002, 04:36 PM
By the way, thanks again for all the help and suggestions!

John Herman
05-08-2002, 07:27 PM
323LX, thought I would jump in on your side. I built my own first car. It took about a year to complete. At the time, everyone thought is was an old SS car, and couldn't believe I built it for IT. It wasn't the fastest by any means that first year, but I had a real sense of accomplishment. I am mechanically inclined, have many automotive contacts, and just KNEW I could do it. Yes, sometimes you will make mistakes, but then again, when you buy someone else's car, you're potentially buying their mistakes (they just won't tell you). The biggest advice I could give you is, know your limitations. I also have the same problem with no speed parts available for my car, but for me, that is part of the challenge of racing. Goodluck.

05-08-2002, 08:38 PM
Geez, I really didn't think that I wasn't "on his side"... Advice like this is really intended to help. What would we possibly have to gain by turning against someone who wants to run IT?

To the best of my recollection, only one person gave me the advice that I am sharing here - I listened to him enough that I finished my bachelors degree rather than running off to do the Jim Russell mechanic program, but NOT well enough to avoid wasting a lot of time and money making bad racing decisions.

Now, 20 years later, I am inclined to do a better job of it this time and feel like I have an obligation to at least say something. Feel free to ignore the hell out of me.


John Herman
05-08-2002, 09:03 PM
Kirk, guess I should have said, "I'll take the other side of the arguement." We (long time readers) have seen the build vs buy come up many times in the past. Sometimes it seems as though the majority of people responding say buy. For a number of people, that is probably a correct way to do it. However, I have seen several uninformed people buy a prebuilt car, only to discover they were loaded with problems. Boswoj made the comment, would you rather drive or build. Well these people ended up repairing and DNFing more than anything else. It turned out to be quite frustrating. Just wanted to offer up another opinion. In closing, I'll borrow from you,"feel free to ignore the hell out of me " http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif

05-08-2002, 10:19 PM
If anybody becomes hears of an IT-B 323 that is for sale, please let me know...I will be checking the classifieds and ebay and what-not (I actually saw one on ebay about a month or two ago, it was selling for under $3000, and they were offering a trailer and some extra parts I believe for an extra $800. Would have been a bit of a long haul to pick it up, but that sounded like a heck of a deal. Nothing against the RX-7s, but I'd really like to run a 323 if it's at all possible... I like being different http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif

05-08-2002, 10:34 PM
Excuse my grammar in the last post...I'm used to being able to edit my posts http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif . And thanks again for all of the help and suggestions...and I should say that I am not definitely buying...I'm just seriously considering the option.

05-09-2002, 05:22 AM
Well - in reference to "buying someone elses mistakes" if 10 percent of a running racecar is screwed up then you are 90 percent better than starting your own build. I still intend to build my own ( I have two in progress in the garage!) 323 hit upon what I ended up doing. I bought that ready to race Rx-7 and am racing it and working out those "someone elses mistakes" as I go, that way the driver and the car develop at the same time. The car I started building is a fine parts car. It's a great idea to buy an already prepped race car that is the same model as the one you wanted to build in the first place. A nice roadworthy parts car is better than a factory manual when you need to see how something is supposed to look when you put it back together.....(what! that thing can't possibly go between those other two? I don't remember it looking like that when I tore it apart!)

05-09-2002, 05:27 AM
Oh - and 323LX - I hope you don't take any of this thread as critical of you! Welcome to the forum, and good luck whether you buy OR build. Everyone here has an opinion, but racers are some of the nicest, most helpful guys (and gals) that you will ever meet. Hope to see you racing soon!

05-09-2002, 05:57 AM
OK - I know, poor form to post three in a row, but I found this in EMRA's garage sale:

Race Car: ITB Mazda 323 - Great entry level regional or school car. New Simpson harness, tires have 2 races and the engine is strong. Has many new and used parts including engine, transmission and chassis parts. Teched in 2001. Has done a 1:06 at LRP. Loads of fun at low cost. $2200/BO or will consider trade. Contact [email protected] or call David at 860-233-5155.
Listed as of 10-23-01

How could anyone possibly build a track ready car for less than that? What do you think 323LX? They are definitly out there if you are willing to spend some time looking.

05-09-2002, 09:58 AM
Ding! We have a winner!


John Herman
05-09-2002, 10:24 AM
Ok, let's help 323lx look into buying the advertised car (and I mean this constructively). Some of the things I would recommend you check. First, because you have knowledge of the 323, check all the known rust prone areas. I would steer clear of any structural rust cars. Second, review the log book and any race results for the car. I have kept most of mine and would proudly show them to a prospective buyer. Third, check for updated safety items and general compliance to the rules; is the cage correct for the class, are the safety belts updated, are all the frontend pieces correct, etc. With the cage, some race series have slightly different cage requirements than IT. Some people (who are not familiar with IT rules), will inadvertantly sell the car as, "would make a great IT car!" However, the cage may have too many mounting points, or goes through the firewall. All correctable, but can require a lot of work. Give the car a general mechanical going over. Brakes, bearings, engine, transmission. Realize that race cars need maintenance, and you will be going through all the components eventually. Finally, I always thought that if I bought a used race car, I would want to buy it as it came off the track so I knew what it was capable of. Either that or, offer to pay for a open track test day (offered by many car clubs for $100-$200), and have the owner flog the car for you. If possible, take it out yourself. I think it would be the best money spent.

05-09-2002, 12:35 PM
First of all, I wasnt taking this as 'criticizing' me... I was considering this extremely helpful advice...That 323 for sale sounds really good...Can you tell me exactly where its located?? And you already answered my next question which was what to look for in a used race car...However, I'm starting to feel like I'm getting ahead of myself. I think I'm going to wait until I get my GCR before I look at buying (or building, for that matter) a car. I think you guys are right about buying over building, at least intially. After considering all of the advice you guys have given me, I think I would much rather be driving than building. So, what I'm thinking about is finding a used IT-B 323 to get me some experience in the seat. I'll hang on to my street 323, and maybe eventually I can build it up...or at least definitely use it for spare parts (and reference, as suggested http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif ) Thanks again for all of your help!

F Prod 323
05-09-2002, 02:20 PM
O.K. I've read all posts so far in this thread, and I'll 'fess up to being the reason this nice young guy has been asking so many questions. I check in with the 323 Forum from time to time, 'cuz I'm currently building an LP FP Mazda 323 and hoped to learn a little bit about the car at that site. I've talked up SCCA, from both driving and worker standpoints.

This is my first SCCA race car (although I built my share of drag race cars back in high school - during the second ice age - first in Stock, then in Gas and then in Altered - and that Ford V8-powered Crosley Pick-up was a wheel-standin' handfull!)

Anyway, yeah, I'm building rather than buying. But I have reasons. First, I am also a worker - Chief of Sound Control in Florida Region and an F&C type in Central Florida Region. I have been watching the different classes and the different marques in each class for several years. I decided which class and which marque and started out by buying two 323 hatchbacks for $400.

Now I, too, had been warned to buy rather than build. But a couple of workers that I know have bought, only to have to replace or rework much or most of what they bought. (Like a roll cage that looked good, but at the initial tech inspection was found to be the wrong material, the wrong diameter and the wrong wall thickness. There was also some question as to the qualifications of the welder, based on a couple of the welds.) And
there were other problems as well.

I watched the race results in "Sports Car" every month for two and a half years after deciding I wanted to go out and play. I saw no 323's in the results for ITB or FP in that time (I had decided on the 323 since my daily driver is a Festiva - sister engine that I have experience with - and I've been an FWD guy since my first 850 Mini in '66.)

My professional life as an industrial design is all about product development, anyway, and to develop a race car has just been a lot of fun so far. Yeah, there have been headaches, setbacks, mistakes, etc., but that's part of development and I'm used to it -- it's been part of my life for over 30 years.

Sure it'll take me a while to finish and get out on the track. Sure it'll cost me more to build than to buy. But . . . my money will be spent in many (smaller, affordable) increments, and when I'm done, I'll know EXACTLY what I have, why it is the way it is and how it went together.

So go easy on 323LX. He's young, he's interested, and soon, some of you guys in CENDIV will have a new playmate!

In the meantime, I'll make sure that you guys know what's on the track in front of you, or if you have a mechanicl problem which requires a visit to the pits . . . and making sure that none of you go over the allowable decibel limit. Know what it is, guys? I always surprized by the number of drivers that come and ask me when I catch them over in practice or qualifying!!

Read your GCR -- it's in there . . . and it's often in the Supps for the event, too (but who reads THEM!!) http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/wink.gif

05-11-2002, 12:29 AM
323LX, you must read this!!

First, my opinion. Buy a car. You can build another while you are racing.

Second, regardless of whether you build or buy, find someone who is knowledgeable about IT to help you make decisions. Also, YOU must be COMPLETELY familiar with the GCR and ITCS. There are plenty of people out there who will give you advice and sell you their cars who are completely ignorant of the rules.

Now for the important part. In regards to:

Race Car: ITB Mazda 323 - Great entry level regional or school car. New Simpson harness, tires have 2 races and the engine is strong. Has many new and used parts including engine, transmission and chassis parts. Teched in 2001. Has done a 1:06 at LRP. Loads of fun at low cost. $2200/BO or will consider trade. Contact [email protected] or call David at 860-233-5155.
Listed as of 10-23-01

How could anyone possibly build a track ready car for less than that? What do you think 323LX? They are definitly out there if you are willing to spend some time looking.


I went to Hartford (where the car is located) in December. David was very nice and he made me glad to be getting back into racing. He also knew nothing about IT racing. He has a very nice production Spitfire that he has raced for years. His son races World Challenge. They bought the car to do a local IT Enduro Series at LRP. Neither has any previous IT experience.


It might pass tech in LRP, but it would not even come close in the southeast.

The car has been backed into a wall before and the left rear corner and hatch have been tweaked pretty bad. As a result, the stock rear glass would not fit. So someone replaced it with Lexan. Not legal. This was the most glaring problem but it seems that there were several others like headlights removed and replaced with covers "like the World Challenge car". I don't believe anyone was trying to screw me, they just didn't know any better.

In conclusion, it is critcal that you know the rules and also try to find a tech inspector who will assist you with a prepurchase inspection.

Also, if you buy a "cheap" car you are going to have the same problems as if the build a "cheap" car. Neither will be inexpensive. However, if you are knowledgeable, you can get a very good car for LOTS less than it would cost to build one and still have the option to build a second car for the experience. I keep threatening to do this, but the building budget buys a lot of tires and entry fees and don't clutter up the garage as bad.


PS I did find a great deal on an RX7 and I bought it. I paid more than twice as much as for the 323, but I got a much better value.

05-11-2002, 02:32 AM
** I already have X dollars sunk into this project - it would be stupid to not spend whatever it takes to finish it. (Remember the hemorrhage of money before the first school? Drunken sailors got nothin' on someone with a novice permit in his hands!)

YEOUCH http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif That HUUUURT!

Zing! Yeah, I'm falling into that category.. 400 for rotors, another 250 for pads, oh hell, 150 for front calipers.. Ugh ugh ugh.


05-14-2002, 07:54 PM
Oddly, North Carolina Region includes a picture of a 323 on its web site (http://www.ncrscca.com/) - it's one of those random image things, so go to the link and refresh until you see it...