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Dave Lemon’s MazdaTrix RX-8 battles the stopwatch

MazdaTrix is a household name among rotary fanatics in the U.S.A., Puerto Rico, Australia, Japan, and beyond. The tuning shop is known for its mastery of the Wankel engine, but has developed parts for and raced many a Mazda nameplate since opening its doors in Signal Hill, California, in 1977. Dave Lemon, owner of MazdaTrix, started out as a racer, and the shop sort of materialized afterward.

Lemon began racing in 1971 in Sport Car Club of America (SCCA) events, but soon starting the shop occupied much of his time. As the shop secured a foothold, Dave resurfaced in 1980 behind the wheel of a Mazda RX-3 in the IMSA series and in 1985 he moved to the SCCA Trans-Am series until 1990.

At this point Dave again went into hibernation mode, although he built and drag raced a three-rotor RX-7 during his sabbatical. From 2001 to today, Dave has called SCCA E-Production class home … that is until he tangled with this aptly colored Winning Blue RX-8. 

Like many race cars that have hit the track before, the Mazda’s early life consisted of dress rehearsals serving as a mannequin to test fit MazdaTrix parts, aftermarket offerings from competitors, as well as a mind-numbing number of power pulls on the MazdaTrix dyno. Of course all this torture was laid on the RX-8 while it also served as Dave’s daily driver.

Graduation day almost never came for the Mazda, as MazdaTrix bought another RX-8 for race purposes, but eventually “old reliable” got the nod and was transformed into a Street Tire Class Redline Time Attacker.

As a testament to the inherent strength of the Renesis rotary engine, the race car runs an internally stock 13B rotary engine, the workhorse of Mazda’s Wankel fleet. Power has been boosted with a bolt-on ProCharger supercharger system that runs a custom front-mount intercooler with trick ducting to maximize efficiency.

A set of MazdaTrix headers and a MazdaTrix exhaust system reduce restriction and bump output. A MazdaTrix- tuned Haltech engine management computer keeps the rotary purring lap after hot lap.

To get the power down, the stock RX-8 gearbox has been enhanced with a MazdaTrix lightweight flywheel and Quartermaster 4.5-inch clutch. This duo puts the twist to the stock Torsen limited slip differential. Thanks to A’PEXi coilovers, Megan Racing adjustable links, and a StopTech braking system, the Mazda can tickle the edge of adhesion with ease. The Stoptech setup consists of 14-inch rotors and four-piston calipers up front and 13- inch discs and single-piston calipers in the rear.

The car’s impressive contact patch is provided by 285/35/18 Nitto NT-05 tires all around. The Nittos are wrapped around 18 x 9.5 XXR 522 wheels.

The Mazda retains some of its street looks but there is no denying its true purpose. A MazdaTrix front splitter with long mounting struts, an intimidating TCSportline rear wing, an AIT Racing carbon-fiber hood, huge orange MazdaTrix logo, and a Time Attack number plate with a big “99” on it give the RX-8 a pure race-car aura.

The aura carries over to the cabin where a six-point roll cage by Steen Chassis, Sparco racing seats, harnesses, and steering wheel and a lot of gauges drive the racer theme home.

Dave has fared well behind the wheel of the Mazda, notching three Top 5s in the first four Time Attack West Coast races. He is currently second in the season standings, a mere 19 points off the leader.

Lemon hopes to gain a lot of ground late in the season, as a street ported, WPC treated, over-sized studded, ceramic apex seal engine is slated to be dropped into the RX-8 prior to the Pahrump, Nevada, race in mid- September. Look out competition.

MODIFICATIONS SUMMARY
Dave Lemon’s 2003 Mazda RX-8

Engine
Factory internals
ProCharger supercharger system
Custom front-mount intercooler
MazdaTrix headers
Haltech computer
MazdaTrix 4lbs. flywheel
Quartermaster 4.5 inch clutch

Chassis
A’PEXi coil-over suspension
Megan Racing adjustable links

Brakes
StopTech braking system, 14” rotors and 4-pot caliper front, 13” rotors and 1-pot caliper rear

Wheels
XXR 522, 18 x 9.5

Tires
Nitto NT-05, 285/35/18

Exterior
MazdaTrix front splitter, air-dam
TCSportline rear wing
AIT Racing carbon hood and trunk
No sunroof, Winning Blue paint

Interior
Six point roll cage by Steen Chassis
Sparco racing seats, harnesses, and steering wheel
A lot of gauges

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