COVID-19 has made people do some weird things. Building a race car on a tight budget and in a short time is what Ben Lottering, AKA ‘Cowboy’ did.
When lockdown regulations kicked in at the end of March in South Africa, Ben found himself stuck at home, not really being able to go anywhere other than for a walk in his yard or hanging out in his garage. Ben doesn’t particularly like walking for no reason, so the garage won out.
Ben has owned a few very fast, self-built drag cars over the years, including a 9.2-second quarter-mile-capable Ford Escort, a Corolla wagon that ran a 8.9-second ET, and another Corolla coupe that blitzed the 1,320ft in 9.1-seconds. All of these cars retained their full steel bodies, and Ben only made gear shifts through manual H-pattern transmissions. His engines of choice? Big-power Toyota 2JZs for all three builds.
After Ben got rid of his last car, his garage was feeling a little empty. With the lockdown looming, he decided it was the perfect time to build a new car, and it turns out that four months trapped at home was all the time Ben needed to put something truly epic together.
Ben found the 1975 Mazda 1300 wagon in the corner of his friend Arthur’s shop, AJ Racing, and knew it was the perfect car to take from stock to something far from it.
With COVID taking its toll on everyone’s finances – including Ben’s – he told himself that this really needed to be a budget build, all done within the 16-week timeframe. What he wouldn’t be skimping on though, was the engine, driveline and chassis performance required to get the little Mazda down the quarter-mile on a single-digit ET.
Stuffing a 2JZ into the little Mazda would have surely resulted in that, but spurred on by Arthur, whose reputation for building powerful and reliable Mazda rotary engines in South Africa precedes him, Ben opted for a 13B package. While he got to work on the chassis, Arthur got to work on the engine, which is based around an FD3S RX-7 block that’s been bridgeported, dowelled, and fitted out with a lightened and balanced rotating assembly.
You may have noticed the turbocharger – it’s kind of hard to miss. The Bullseye 80mm unit forces copious amounts of air into the engine via an air-to-air intercooler and 90mm throttle body, with four 2,200cc injectors and two 1,600cc injectors supplied by dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps ensuring that its thirst is adequately quenched.
Running on a race fuel mix and tuned by Arthur via a MicroTech LT-9c engine management system, the little Mazda has thrown down 500hp at the rear wheels on low boost, which is already plenty for such a lightweight car.
In fact, it’s all the power Ben needed to record a 9.1-second ET at 235km/h on an un-prepped track. I think it’s safe to say there’s 8-second potential here.
To achieve that goal, no concessions were made in the driveline, which looks bulletproof. There’s a triple-plate race clutch, G-Force G101A 4-speed transmission, chromoly driveshaft with Strange 1350 Series yokes, and a Ford 9-inch differential with 31-spline axles and a solid spool.
All of the chassis, body and suspension modification work was completed by Ben in his garage, which also doubles as his ‘Billet-Bullet Fab’ shop for client builds. The rear end was tubbed to fit the large Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks, and Ben also built the custom cage, frame rails, wishbones and anti-roll bars. There’s a Competition Engineering Magnum Series ladder bar in play too.
In the brake department you’ll find FD3S RX-7 calipers and rotors on the front end, and Wilwood Dynalite calipers with Hyundai rotors out back. Of course, you need a little more stopping power than that on the strip, hence the Simpson Skyjacker parachute mounted to the chassis through the tailgate.
One of the coolest aspects of Ben’s Mazda has to be the sparkling metal finish, achieved through the use of a gold flake-enhanced clear coat. Not only does the lack of paint save weight, but the raw finish really adds to this little machine’s character. All the glass in the car was removed and replaced with Lexan, for safety and of course to shed more kilos.
Inside, you’ll find a Kirkey seat with an ATS harness, and a few gauges to monitor vitals. Just the basics to get the job done and keep Ben safe.
This feisty little Mazda build turned out to be the perfect lockdown project for Ben. It looks really cool and goes like stink. I’m really excited to see what it will do once they switch over to high boost and utilise a flat-shift function in the near future…