Rotary engines are already a rebel choice engine, but a drift RX-8 is another level of OGness. Drift Alliance's Tony Angelo speaks with us about his rotary rocket.
Having been into drifting for over eight years and into cars for most his life, Tony has owned "tons and tons of cars." After owning five RX-7s (four FCs and one FD), Tony wanted a newer car. With the RX-8 coming with the non-turbo rotary 13B-MSP Renesis engine, Tony decided to swap in the already proven turbo 13B-REW from the older FD. Along with the engine came the transmission and steering rack. RX-7s have had lots of aftermarket support and have been proven over time. Using these parts over the RX-8 parts will make things easier and give a wider selection of parts. But having a RX-8 still meant this was no easy or simple task.
Built strictly for competition in Formula D and D1 events, the RX-8 was heading into uncharted territory. No U.S. team had built a RX-8 strictly for the pro drifting circuit. This meant many obstacles for Tony and his crew. "Lots of testing and developing parts had to take place. It took us a while to stabilize the engine. This current setup, Haltech and the Bullseye turbo, seems very solid. We are now working on advancing the suspension setup and sorting out a bulletproof drivetrain." Transmissions don't seem to last more than two events, he tells us. And you thought only drag racing was harsh on transmissions.
You've heard the horror stories of a rotary engine. Why would any one like Tony want to build one? "I grew up with RX-7s," he said. "The rotary engine is compact, lightweight and powerful; it's perfect for racing. Lightweight is key to racing. Rotaries are capable of making the same power of a six- or eight-cylinder engine." And once you hear the radical sounds of a built rotary engine, it's hard to blame him. The addictive engine sound is nothing like a piston engine. True, rotary engines love to drink gas and aren't the best choice for a reliable daily driver, but this car is built for competition-and how many piston engines with 1308 cc of displacement can make 400 hp?
His deep Mazda roots don't stop there. You may recognize the exotic orange and green paint scheme on the RX-8. No, he's not sponsored by the Florida Gators or Jamba Juice. There's a bit more to this paint scheme than on the usual track car; this is the same graphic and color scheme used on the Mazda 787 and 787B racecars. In 1991, the 787B won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, making it the only Japanese car to ever win in the series. And of course, the 787B is the only car to ever win in the series using a non-piston engine. In appreciation of the 787B's heritage, many RX-7s have mimicked the scheme. But no RX-8 has until now. Not just more thought out, it is definitely one of the best looking schemes on a drift car. This was the only car to really catch my attention at the recent Formula D event.
Very few people like rotary engines, and even fewer like the Mazda RX-8, but you can't help but love Tony's creation. If he comes sliding into your town, you might want to take note as you won't see another RX-8 like this.
'06 Mazda RX-8
Owner Tony "Hurricane" Angelo
Hometown Montrose, CA
Daily Grind beating down drifters and piston-engines alike
Power 394 hp @ 8600 rpm, 332 lb-ft @ 6800 rpm
Under The Hood '95 RX-7 13B-REW swap; Angelo custom port; Denso 850cc primary, Bosch 1680cc secondary injectors; SARD fuel regulator; Walbro fuel pump; KGparts.com fuel rail; HKS-Super flow intake; custom 3-inch titanium exhaust; custom manifold; GM LS1 coils; Mazda Racing spark plugs; Bullseye Power S372 turbo; SARD Type J Racing wastegate; GReddy Skyline intercooler core with custom V-mount piping and end tanks; Blitz SBC i-Color Spec R boost controller; Ron Davis radiator; Fuel Safe fuel cell; Cusco catch can;
Drivetrain '95 RX-7 transmission swap; Tomei Technical-Trax LSD; Exedy Twin-Plate clutchBrains Haltech E8
Stiff Stuff KW Variant 3 coilovers; Cusco front sway bar, strut tower bars with integrated brake master cylinder brace; complete JIC Magic rear suspension arm set; FD RX-7 steering rack
Stoppers DBA rotors; Hawk HP Plus pads; custom lines
Rollers Work Emotion CR Kai rims; Maxxis MA-Z1 tires
Outside BN Sports Defend body kit, front vented fenders; Seibon carbon hood, trunk; custom reverse vent hood; 787B Mazda paint scheme
Inside Sparco Pro 2000 seats; Sparco 375 steering wheel; Auto Meter gauges; custom cage; Tilton Remote Bias Adjuster; custom rear emergency brake with Wilson tennis racket wrap
Props Dave Shoemaker, Michael Edwards, everyone at Camp Snakebite, my family, all my Drift Alliance family, Chris, Topics, Tuerck, JR, Petty, Dousan, Linz, Ameen, Amir, Kenji, Joon, Brian W, JTP, Luch, the Clubloose Guys, MA-Motorsports, Mike Napp for giving some punk kids a shot, Kevin wells, Sergio Ramirez, Buddah Justin for late night tunning sessions, everyone who helped on the road or lent a place to stay, Team Snakebite Forever!, entire Wu-Tang Clan, RIP Pink Godzira, Jim and Chuck at Mazdaspeed, Brandon at Maxxis, Sam and Jim at Sam's Autoland, George from KW Suspensions, Matt and Mark at Haltech, Billy and all at Alpinestars, Blair, Jacob and Cary from MMI, Eiji and Steve at Tomei, Russ and Yoni at Exedy, Ahad at Auto Meter, BN Sports USA, Seibon, Steve Lim, Dan and Dave at Bullseye Power, everyone at Formula D except Andy Luk (suck it, Andy!). Sorry if I missed anyone; thanks for your help!
WWW autometer.com; blitzperformance.com; bnsports.us; bullseyepower.com; dba.com.au; cusco.co.jp; driftalliance.com; exedyusa.com; fuelsafe.com; greddy.com; haltech.com; hawkperformance.com; hksusa.com; kgparts.com; kw-suspension.com; maxxis.com; rondavisradiators.com; sardracing.com; seibon.com; sparcousa.com; tiltonracing.com; tomeiusa.com