You Know MADBUL And BADBUL…</br>Now Meet RADBUL
And then there were three…

When my phone rings and the screen reads ‘Mad Mike Whiddett calling’, Speedhunters’ own always seems to be bearing the sort of news that I really want to hear about. Plans for an epic drift session on one of New Zealand’s most scenic driving roads; a date and time of a top secret test for a never-before-seen event; the moment when another ground-breaking (and scraping) build is ready to roll, and shoot.


So when a call came through in early February, I had already resigned myself to the fact that something exciting was about to happen – and once again he didn’t disappoint…


There are three things that Mike’s best known for in the world of drift: his aggressive style behind the wheel, his off-track persona, and his cars. Combine those facets together and its easy to see why he’s won legions of fans all over the world. At the core it all though is a desire to win, which in the case of present-day professional drifting, requires talent and serious hardware to go with it. Up until now though, Mike’s competition cars have come with compromises.


Although it’s been continually evolved and has taken many podiums in Formula D Asia, D1NZ and the NZ Drift championship, underneath MADBUL’s fifth generation skin is the FD3S that Mike first built way back in 2006. Can you imagine how many competition miles are on this thing by now?!


And then there’s the SE3P RX-8 – BADBUL, which was built from an existing production class race car. In Mike’s eyes this was definitely not the best looking Mazda to come off the automaker’s production line, so transforming it from ”ya wifey’s shopping sports car”, into one of the most aggressive-looking drift cars on the planet became a challenge in itself.


This new build, however, is being purpose-engineered from the ground up. Starting with a completely bare late-model NC Mazda MX-5 chassis, this one’s going right the way back to bare steel and at the completion of the build will emerge with a specification ripe for the ranks of Formula Drift and other pro-level events around the world. Again, Mike wanted a challenge and always likes to step outside the box to create something that’s never been built before. With Mazda rotary in the blood and the geometry of the new chassis, this is the recipe for a very violent drift car, but I doubt Mike would have it any other way. It’s also something he’s wanted to do for long time, because projects like this and BADBUL are made more exciting by a lack of off-the-shelf parts.


If you follow Mike on Instagram you might already have some idea of what’s in store for the Mazda dubbed RADBUL, but given that the project is still in its very early throes, I thought it would be a good idea to check it out in a little more detail.


Mike was quick to point out that his car is not just any old NC MX-5 either – but a 3rd Generation Limited car. Surely Mazda must have set some sort of record for the number of ‘special edition’ Roadsters it’s dreamed up since the iconic model first arrived 25 years ago, but being one of the first 3500 new-generation cars off the rank, at least makes it a little more special.


This is how the 3GL would have looked new, but since the NC chassis has only been face-lifted since it debuted in 2005, Mike is updating its appearance to 2014 specification before the bodywork goes under the knife.


It wasn’t that pretty when he picked it up a few weeks ago though. A light frontal, which resulted in a small pinch in the right front side chassis rail, had permanently taken the car off the road and put it the hands of specialist Mazda auto dismantler, Any Mazz Spares, which was happy to donate it to the cause. It was just what he was looking for and the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect.


It goes without saying that there are some big plans for this little car, and once again some of Mike’s sponsors and partners are involved in the build. That includes Pulse Performance Race Engineering – the company behind the naturally aspirated quad-rotor in MADBUL and the 20B turbo mill in BADBUL, plus that crazy world-first six-rotor motor – the PPRE 6B. The engine that PPRE’s Warren Overton has begun cooking up for ROOFLS is destined to become the most powerful of the lot…


And then there’s this guy – Kaz Townsend of Townsend Brotherz Racing, or TBR for short. Kaz has been working on Mike’s cars for a while, and while he’s done an amazing job of improving and maintaining the chassis, suspension and steering systems, secretly he’s been counting down the days to sink his teeth into a brand spanking new build. That day has now arrived.

The Metal House Compound


The TBR shop – otherwise known as the ‘Metal House Compound’ – is a workplace unlike any other I’ve visited. Not only is it light, bright and spotlessly clean, but Kaz put plenty of thought into making the space somewhere he’d want to spend 15-plus hour days working and innovating in. Just around the road from Mike’s workshop, for the next few months it’s HQ for the ROOFLS build.


The doors have only been open for a year or so, but prior to setting up his own shop, Kaz spent a decade fabricating some of New Zealand’s most winningest speedway machines.


These days he turns his metal-forming talents on everything, and in recent times pro-level drift machines have provided a steady stream of work. Before Kaz began work on Mike’s MX-5, he had a couple of jobs to finish off on BADBUL, including this very cool new front bumper bar. This particular item was designed in-house using CAD software and then welded together.


The same thing goes for this hydraulic handbrake bracket that Kaz was stitching together when I dropped by. One of these little works of automotive art will soon be finding its way into ROOFLS, but perhaps via TBR’s own plasma cutter which is currently being set up in a special room in the workshop.


Here’s another TBR product – this time an outer aluminium steering column that features a deep ball bearing at the top end and a needle roller bearing at the bottom. Yep, Mike will be running one of these in the MX-5 as well.


Of course, it’s not all drift though. Kaz has had this very cool Beetle in the shop getting a complete makeover for a while now. There aren’t nearly enough drag Beetles in New Zealand, so I’m really looking forward to seeing this little turbo beast take to the strip. I’d better schedule a shoot too, right?


While I was at the shop the ROOFLS build was in full swing. One of the first jobs on the agenda was to take moulds off the factory rear three quarters. The idea here is that the original metal can be cut away, and fibreglass replacement attached on. Then, any extra body add-ons – like fat over fenders – can be added to those. In the case of a collision – or a delaminating tyre that decides to take the fender with it – it’s a much easier fix in the long run.


Once they were finally released, the moulds looked really good, with a just a few small touch-ups required before the guys can start pumping out panels.


For the Mike and Kaz there have been some very pleasing early revelations too. Like the fact that the front subframe is very similar to the RX-8 so a lot of the development that has gone into BADBUL will be tested on the MX5. Even better – the largely recessed factory firewall allows the rotary engine to sit far more rearward in the NC bay than it does in the SE3P, with no cutting required. It’s a big win! The only thing required is a dry sump lubrication system – but that was on the cards for this build anyway.


Out the back, the RX-8 subframe bolts straight up in two places – but just misses on the other two. It could be made to fit, but Kaz has decided they’ll stick with the factory MX-5 subframe and adapt the set-up to comply within rules and regs of Formula Drift. Due to the similarity between the two subframes, a lot of the development can be replicated. Of course, like BADBUL, there’s a Winters Performance LSD quick-change rear end on the way from Autosport Dynamics (ASD) in Charlotte, North Carolina.


The guys weren’t sure what they were going for with adjustable rear arms and links as there’s not a whole lot of aftermarket support for the NC chassis, but what do you know – Mike’s SE8P stuff from Megan Racing slots right in.

Express deliveries

Although the project is in its early stage, this is the time that the deliveries start rolling in – and there have been some pretty special ones.


For a long time Mike has been running HKS transmissions, but with the MX-5 comes a new partnership with Holinger. The Australian-made product is renowned for its strength and reliability, and this RD6S six-speed dog box with sequential shift will be well up to handling what Mike and PPRE can throw at it. Close-ratio gearing is essential to keep a rotary engine on the boil, and Holinger’s huge selection of gear kits have allowed the team to select the perfect ratios for the specific application.


That is, a custom 20B three-rotor ‘Monster Bridgeport’ engine running on ethanol. This is the dummy-block being used for test fittings.


Of course, thanks to Turbo by Garrett, there’ll be a big turbo hanging off the side too. The power goal? A nice round 1000hp for a 1000kg car. That’s the same power-to-weight ratio as the Red Bull-backed Peugeot 208 T16 that Sébastien Loeb drove to victory – and destroyed the previous record with – at last year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.


While you mull over the fact that Mike is stuffing an engine outputting four figures into a tiny MX-5, take a look at these custom Race LE seats courtesy of his new partner Takata that are being fitted in all three of his New Zealand-built cars. FIA-spec Takata Race 6 harnesses are on their way too.


It’s pretty cool that Mike is finally able to build a proper pro-spec drift car, and the fact that he’s doing it right here in New Zealand utilising some of the best local talent just makes it all that more sweeter.


Things are moving quickly in the TBR compound and over the course of the next 12 weeks or so, I’m going to be making multiple trips out to see Kaz and check out some of the progress. Then it’ll just be a matter of time before this beast is unleashed and the destruction of Nitto tyres begins…

Brad Lord

Additional photo courtesy of Mazda



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Damn beat me to it. Nice one though I hope they build some nice body kit for it.


always knew mad mike was gay.


i don't see the potential in the NC chassis but i trust Mad Mike knows a lot better than i do!  would've been awesome to see a RWD-converted four-rotor current-gen Mazda 6 or something like that


ddddddd  Hey! 1995 called, it wants it's bigoted, small minded opinion back. Have you ever driven an MX5?!


pipo2  I've just seen the concept artwork - you won't be disappointed!




I strongly approve of this project Mike! Can't wait to see the finished result :D


ddddddd  GTFO


I can't help but imagine that this is going to be super aggressive and very cool looking. It's inevitable, even when starting with something as polarizing as the NC MX5 Mad Mike is going to produce another stunner drift car. Really looking forward to seeing the end result.


This is gonna be one bad ride! Can't wait to see what come out of this camp, possible another camo coat?


more future update on that NC !!!


When this is done Mad Mike should get with Danny George and get some tandems going!! haha #miatalife


"There are two things that Mike’s best known for in the world of drift:
his aggressive style behind the wheel, his off-track persona, and his
Isn't that 3 things!?!? ;)
It's great to see another all Mazda car come out of his workshop, but I hope he steers away from the camo thing this time. So it's obviously going to be 20B powered, but you say the most powerful yet....does a car like this really need 1000hp+ to drift?


Uncalled for dude, this is 2014.


Spaghetti  Ha! I never was any good at maths..


Looks like a woodward steering column. Unsure if TBR product is an accurate description.


@Pete  The outer column/housing is machined up TBR to suit specified ball and needle roller bearings. I'm not sure what the inner is, but quite likely Woodward like you say..


InnerToxicity  It may be 2014 however the MX5 will always be a girls car :p


Cant wait to see and hear the finished product, looking forward to updates too! Does this mean the RX7 won't be made over with the rocket bunny kit? Is he retiring one of his cars?


Don't worry we will still be unveiling our Rocket Bunny FD RX7.


ddddddd Cool comment from someone who likes the ddddddd


Very fun project! Yep I have finished the livery concept.


I've always wanted to do a rotary swap in my NA Miata track car. Awesome to see one of the best drivers out there reppin the Miata!   }Posted a few pics of mine to show support lol.  Can't wait to see the finished product!


”ya wifey’s shopping sports car” hahaha noooooo I disagree, I reckon the rx8 is better looking than the fd but that's my personal opinion. The design of the rx8 is fucking beaut haha I bet its only because its a pretty recent car. It will be on the rx7's level in a couple of years.


@bradlord where at? I'd like to see it and hopefully have one to slap in to mine.


MadMike Whiddett  when do you think the livery concept will be released to the public?


@Toni  As an owner of both I have to disagree strongly. The 7 has near perfect proportions + power + handling. The RX8 has awkward proportions, fussy styling (too many competing details) and is down on power compared to the FD. On the plus side it is a more practical car but that doesn't make it an all time great design like the FD.


MadMike Whiddett dddddddAnd check mate!
You do it your way Mike that's what makes you a inspiration to us all.
Go Bro!


Not true, I'd say aside from a hot hatch they'd be one of the best entry-level sports cars ever built.


what id like to know is, will it stay convertible or going for a hard top?


MadMike Whiddett ddddddd  You sir just won the internet.


Brad, as always great write up. This chassis build is going to be really interesting as its going to have to cope with almost 8x the amount of power it was designed for. I would love for you to do a Shop Tour of TBR! I enjoy a shop that is focused and clean. I have a new project and shop to look forward to. Thanks again Speedhunters for always pushing the boundries!


MikeWilliams2 ROOFLS


kphillips9936 , so ROOFLS meant roofless ? XD


Name ROOFLS , I thought it would run with LS-engine as usual on Drift Car ... but Mad Mike is more purist than I thought . XD


RDS kphillips9936Probably a play on ruthless too....but I can't see anything but roofles, like ruffles, but OO.....that'll stick with me now!


RDS  LS as usual?


RDS When has he EVER run a LS?


Spaghetti RDSkphillips9936Hmmm, might have something there...




MadMike Whiddett

I can here you saying now, "Yep, Yep, Yep, YYYYEEEEEPPPP, THATS IT, Get this baby on the TTTTRRRAAAAAAACCK.


RDS  at least Mad Mike doesn't go for the over-done LS swap that we see EVERYWHERE...


kphillips9936 RDS guess he meant "as usual on any pro drift car out there today", not Mike's ;)


The bar has been set pretty high with the previous builds, so I can't wait to see what this turns out like!


I read ROOFLS as "roofles", like a puppy name.


All I want to know is what kind of wheel setup this thing is going to run??!?Surely you wouldn't want to go anything bigger than 17" on such a small chassis?

Pete the perfect pilot

It's what mazda always missed a trick with; they should have done this, at the very least as an option, years ago. That said, what's stopping them now? The 16x has been kicking round long enough, and would surely be ok for hauling the mx5 chassis around. Love Rotas, and mad mikes right at the front in flying the rota flag. Shame mazda hasn't got there priorities sorted; bring us back a rx, and get back to Le Mans with a rx. Go mad mike!


Hooooly Shit. I would shit bricks stepping on the throttle of that thing.


I am working on something special with Nessen Forged again, these guys produce some amazing product and I really enjoy creating custom wheels with them.


Thanks! Yep we are really excited about this build.


MikeWilliams2 I think it will be like Daigo-san SC430


132000 InnerToxicity  Well call me a girl with a doodle and give me one! If you like driving they make the list for sure. Smile time behind the wheel :)


Acc , Yes , this is what I meant ... most people choose LS-swap because it's easier .


Spaghetti I agree on it's a play on Ruthless .


More brapbrapbrap. I like it :)


And what do you drive? What do you travel the world competing at 100 miles an hour in? Earnest Hemmingway, theworld'sall time most macho man, said there were only two sports: bull fighting and motor racing


The MX-5 is in the same league as the new AE86...they're a chick machine and don't belong on a race track.


Buu  seeing as its the most raced car, i think maybe you suck at giving advice about how good something is, especially when it keeps on selling and people keep on racing them.


Get a clue chump. You are embarrassing yourself.


hi guys. is there a paint code or name for this red-color please?? regards Hilton.


Coming from rusty ring piece


Fuck rotary , unreliable junkers


Does the crap bolted to the front actually work or just look silly? :p


Lol how queer


It will win easy competitions and hearts. Big PLUS for Mike for using rotary engines and not V8's.

Eddie van Rensburg

Brap brap braaaaaap!!! Rotary's are awesome!!! This thing is awesome!!


Buu The MX-5 will eat big bad V8-s alive.That car belongs in the racing world and will prove that for sure.