RADBUL:</br> Mad Mike’s New Chassis Takes Shape
A Madman & An MX-5

The FD3S Mazda RX-7 better known as MADBUL gave our servers a bit of shake-up when we revealed its Gen 6 Rocket Bunny re-imagination at the end of last month. It’s not hard to understand why that happened either, because Speedhunters’ own Mad Mike Whiddett has a knack for building badass machines, and then rebuilding them all over again to an even wilder extent. When it comes to cars, seemingly everything he touches turns to awesome.

For that very reason, the moment I heard that Mike had got his hands on a Mazda MX-5, and that it would be joining his line-up of drift weaponry with a no-compromise pro-spec build, I got pretty excited. Despite its unconventionality, after our first look at RADBUL back in April, most of you guys appeared to be feeling the same way too – and for good reason.


Don’t let its 2014-spec smiling face fool you – RADBUL is well on its way to becoming one of the angriest drift cars on the face of the planet. An MX-5 base mixed up with seriously evil underpinnings – it’s a wonderful mash-up don’t you think?


Some of you might still be questioning the choice of platform, and if you’re one of those people I think it might pay to reserve judgement until the wraps come off at the end of the build. Why? Because for Mike, half the challenge here is taking something not normally associate with huge power and drifting, and turning that thinking on its head. As a great driver’s car, the NC is a good place to start too.


The other thing about the NC chassis is its suitability-by-design for the rotary repower Mike’s had in mind right from the outset. That’s three rotors and one big ass turbo in case you missed the original memo.


What may not be so suitable for the end task – at least on paper – is the Mazda’s 90.7-inch (2,303mm) long wheelbase. Because generally speaking, the greater the distance between a rear-wheel drive car’s front and rear wheel lines, the easier it is to hold a drift. Compared to every other popular drift platform out there the MX-5 is very short, but having piloted MADBUL for many years now, Mike’s used to snappy handling at sketchy speeds. In fact, he prefers it. If there’s anyone that can tame a longitudinally-challenged chassis stuffed with four figure horsepower output, I think he’s the man.

It’s time we pick up where we left off with the build though, and that was just prior to the stripped body shell being sent away for acid dipping. The last few shots show you what it looked like when it returned to the Townsend Brotherz Racing workshop in its raw steel state.


There was a two-fold reason to have the MX-5 dipped – firstly to the remove the multiple layers of factory red paint, and secondly to get rid of the factory sealant between the layers of steel panels that form the body. The latter would give Kaz at TBR a clear run at seam welding every overlap – outside, inside and underneath the car. Above you can see the markings he made for where each weld will be applied in one of the rear wheel wells.


If you think that sounds like a big job you’d be right. According to Kaz he spent around 20 solid welding hours on this aspect of the build alone.


As you can see, the results are pretty nice though. Given the stresses a drift car chassis is put through, the extra rigidity that comes from seam welding is well worth the effort. On a project of this nature and extent, it’s non-negotiable.


Wherever you look over the MX-5’s chassis, Kaz has left his calling cards. I’d count them all up, but that would be a task in itself – so let’s just say there are a lot. The pretty rainbow colour effect is a result of using a high-chromium TIG rod, similar to those used for chromoly welding.


And on that note, don’t the custom ‘MM’ embroidered Takata Race LE seats look the business too. All three of Mike’s drift cars are running these – with matching Takata Race 6 harnesses, of course. While we’re talking about the inside of the car, let’s take a look a the rollcage next…

Caged Beast

With the chassis in its bare state, the other big job on the agenda for Kaz was the rollcage. The cages fitted in Mike’s RX-7 and RX-8 are somewhat basic in their respective designs, but in building this car to Formula Drift’s current specification, something a little more significant was called for. The fact that Mike will be drifting the MX-5 without a hardtop only amplified the need for some serious roll over and impact protection too.


Constructing an extensive rollcage in a small cabin space would normally be a nightmare for the engineer tasked with the job, so having no roof to confine the space has certainly made it a little easier for Kaz in that respect.


But that’s where it stops, because bending, cutting and scalloping steel tubes to build a decent cage – let alone TIG-welding it all together – takes time and a whole lot of patience.


What the Mazda has ended up with is pretty cool though. Safety was the number once concern here of course, followed by rigidity, but because of the open cockpit aspect the rollcage had to look good as well. As you can see here the raked-back main hoop sets the tone for the rest of the cage’s aggressive design.


There’s still more bars to add at this point, but you should get the overall idea of where its headed. Under the bubble wrap is a custom PWR Performance aluminium radiator, which, yes, is being fitted in the rear of the car – the boot/trunk area to be exact. Given the size of the MX-5, there’s not a lot of room to work with, so some careful planning has gone into ensuring that everything can fit without interference, all the while taking into account weight placement and in this particular case – incoming and outgoing air flow. I’ll get more into that in the next update though…


NASCAR-style door intrusion bars aren’t commonly seen in pro-spec drift cars in this part of the world, but they’re a sensible investment given the door-to-door nature of the sport and the speeds involved at pro level. The bars extend right the way out to the outer skin of the doors – Seibon carbon fibre components no less – for maximum clearance.


While the majority of the chassis prep work is now complete, Kaz has turned his attention to dummy-fitting all the ancillary parts and fabricating custom mounting points and brackets where required – which is pretty much everywhere. Ultimately the whole car will be built up, and then completely stripped down again so that all of the steel can be sealed, primed and painted ahead of final reassembly.


With a lot of the time consuming stuff out of the way, and the vast majority of parts now arrived from around the world, good progress is being made on a daily basis. In fact, you can count on me being back with another update from the TBR Metal House Compound in just a few weeks time.


On top of the next round of modifications, Mike’s also got a pretty big announcement that is going to take RADBUL from certifiable crazy to off-the-chart insane. Turbocharging is a given, but does anyone want to hazard a guess what the new plans might entail?

In other cool news, thanks to Red Bull, from here on out till the MX-5’s completion, our build stories aren’t only going to be limited to stills. So make sure you check out the clip above for the first video instalment of The Making of RADBUL.

Brad Lord



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Honestly, I so can't wait to see this completed aye.


In the pictures where mike is sitting in the car, he looks like hes disgusted by the what hes looking at. lol i know thats not the case but i cant help but think that when i see those pictures of him. 

i hope he builds another rx8 but i don't see that happening. Anyways................



Damn, this is gonna be bananas! Can't wait to see her roll out. 
Will there be another custom Rocket Bunny kit or Camouflage scheme?


Nothing wrong with using the MX-5 for drifting, as Danny George proves.


wow, cant wait for this.


Awesome stuff! Nothing beats the excitement of a 'full build'. Keep the updates coming thick and fast.


Is the surprise methonal???!


As long as it's low, wide, loud, and got deep rims, i'll still worship it lol


Great article. Love the TBR guys and can't wait to see the car on the track. That video is also mint!


Turbo'd PPRE 6 rotor FTW!


Even if you aren't an MX-5 fan, you know this is going to be mental! I thought this was going to be a hardtop, so I'm not sure how staying convertible is going to affect the look. Irrespective, I can't wait to read more.
As for the surprise, a supercharger to aid the turbo perhaps? I have read about a few twincharged rotaries, so I believe its possible.




That nascar style door bars are just waiting for a penetration, and when the penetration happens it will fail on the s bend.


What's next Mike? Mazda 6 by 6 rotor, so you can take the family drifting with you? :) 

Actually.... not a bad idea.If it wasn't for the exhaust, the Skyactive diesel is working in Tudor now... and has more power than they can handle!


So is this going to be for FD Asia next year, or FD 'Murica?


@tom I noticed that too lol, it looks like he's unhappy with the placement of the hydraulic-brake. hahaha


I guess I am the only one who is wondering why this project's name is not ConvertiBUL. By the way It is going to be mental. I guess it will have RocketBunny widebody kit.

Pete the perfect pilot

this is going to be the business.mad mikes a fantastic ambassador for mazda, and keeping it rotary is what its all about. mazda should have done this years ago, adding a rotary just makes so much sense! Hope Mazda appreciate just how good Mad Mike is at maintaining the rich rotary heritage, big congrats to redbull too for supporting mike. now what cars going to rrun up the hill at #2015fos? id vote for the rx7 and the mx5, hey, any mazda rx with mad mike squirting the loud pedal and smoking the hill will be a sight to see. Essential Memo to Lord March..... Invites to mad mike for 2015 and any of his redbull rotas ....


hikkusubei I was wondering the same thing for the kit.


compound turbo setup?


hikkusubei The name has to be 6 characters because thats how many you have for New Zealand registration plates [MADBUL] [BADBUL] [RADBUL] [BRODZR] [FURSTY] [JAPBUL] are all Mikes personalised/vanity plates.


There already was an mx5 in the european drift championship made by the italian Filippo Pirini. It was a older mx5  but fully built drift car.. had its 1.8 liter engine stroked and turbocharged.. its just to say..

But this will be one sick build.. And my bosses hairstylist really drives a MX5.. LOL


They have a plate between the bars mate . Have a look at a Nascar pic. Good try though


cant wait to see more.Not only as a fan of Mikes, but as a fabricator, I love build threads of high end work


Thanks for the kind words.


Yeah harder to get creative with only 6 characters where some countries get 7 for their registration / licence plates.


That would be bigger than the car! Ha Hard enough squeezing this 20b and massive Garrett in the bay.


Daaaaaaamn. I love Mazda. I love these builds. 

Danny George races an insane LS powered NB miata in American Formula drift. 

Check him out and give support if you like what he's doing. 



Cannot wait until this thing hits the track, the idea already sound pretty bloody awesome! Cannot wait!


He was definitely sitting in there making rotary noises and pretending to skid


aussieANON lol


Mazda drift cars are pretty different from the rest lol


RoadyKnowles I'm talking about the s bend on the b pillar of the rollcage. There is no nascar rollcage with a curvature on that location


Philmanktelow Turbo + Supercharger = Compound charger.


The sport is rapidly being taken over by V8's so it's great to bring something unique to the track. I have a lot of knowledge with the rotary engine. Our team can't wait to bring RADBUL to the track.


Yep still a kid, I find myself scream'n rotary noises even driving my BT50 truck daily.


You will see this on track this year too!


I am finding it very hard to keep the secret that you will find out in feature 2!


We will be making a removable roof for it for those wet rainy events to keep myself dry. This is a real fun project as everything is being custom built.


Aero will be one of the final build clips, however we have some rad stuff in the making.


I am far from disgusted ha, we already have a rather competitive RX8 BADBUL with a 813bhp 20b. I am actually doing all the fresh cosmetics on this right now so keep an eye out on my FB page.


It will be nice to see the mazda when it's done, I look forward to it


MadMike Whiddett I do 2step launch and everything, with pretend handbrake. So much fun


JorgeMoreira1 RoadyKnowles I don't like that the vertical bars are slanted.  It looks cool and will *probably* be fine but if the purpose is to keep the two door bars from collapsing then that makes them way more likely to fail at the welds than a vertical setup.


I'm really interested to see the rear cooling/fuel setup along with how Kaz builds the rear structure to support the rear bumper and body panels.  also interested in that 'custom' rear subframe!  definitely looking forward to more updates and i really appreciate you guys showing what all goes under the skin of the car.

p.s. I can't believe Kaz completely stitch welded that chassis with TIG!  impressive!


MadMike Whiddett Great! When I grow up I want to become either a racer for Nissan or a drifter in an old Datsun 240z with a big block Chevy or something like that. Love your work Mike!

Gianluca FairladyZ

MadMike Whiddett  Good luck mate! Looking forward to see ca competitive package from you guys!


That's gorgeous! What welding rod/wire did they use? What machine is the notch swarf sitting in? #FEATURETHETOOLS


Gianluca FairladyZ Cheers!


Okay that was my question. I like this build. But I am a hard core super fan of the #MADBUL. Is my favorite. And well I love the #BADBUL & ever since I saw that you were building this car on fb my questions have been: if you build this car you are keeping all 3? Which is going to be featured in the new season 2014-2015 season of #D1NZ? & well since I saw you started the process with the BADBUL can you post more pics on fb of the progress & process of the BADBUL?


MadMike Whiddett Rotary cars for the win! Bet that it's gonna sound bloody awesome!! Love them cars Mike!


MadMike Whiddett Nice one! When I first read about this project I pictured it as a hardtop, so I'll be interested to see how close the finished car looks to how I first pictured it in my mind.

And any comment as to whether the "surprise" is a twincharged setup?...


That seat position needs to be lifted.


honestly first time i think about this one will have 4 rotor and some boost not only boosted 3 rotor :P


MadMike Whiddett  Would be cool to add some old school pop-eye headlights from the first gen Miata, wouldn't be?


MichaelMayraRivera Hey Man - Cheers for  all the support!  At this stage I am keeping all 3 cars, it works out well so I can have the option to compete in different places around the world.  One of which is the states!  Gotta get back there


FunctionFirst Ultimate goal is to compete in both


aussieANON MadMike Whiddett it's pretty standard when I explain car things it's 30% words 70% sound effects