Car culture is a funny thing. It doesn’t seem to matter if you grow up around hot rods, lowriders, race cars or off-roaders, once you’ve been indoctrinated into the world of motorized fun and games, there doesn’t seem to be any escape. Or at least Greg Sanchez couldn’t get the car bug out of his system, having grown up in Oxnard, CA, surrounded by lowriders, but developing a passion for the sport compact scene in his teen years.
“I’ve been a fanatic about anything on wheels ever since I was a kid,” Greg says. “In Oxnard it was easy to get into trouble, but, luckily, I was distracted with cars. I was the type of kid who followed all of the adults and would watch people work on cars for hours. I grew up in an area that was very popular with the lowrider crowd, so I always looked forward to the cruises on Sunday afternoons. But as the owners of the lowriders grew up and away from the scene, I was left without anything to look forward to. This was the same time I was getting close to obtaining my driver’s license.”
That’s when fate intervened in the form of a modified DC2 Integra ripping a little VTEC through Greg’s neighborhood, opening his eyes to a whole new type of car culture.
As Greg put it, “The sound of that Integra’s intake immediately had me interested. After collecting tons of import magazines and looking forward to the day I would get my driver’s license, I made the decision to get a Japanese car. My very first car was a ’92 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 twin turbo. As a 16-year-old, I had the baddest car at my high school, which didn’t last long since I kept getting caught speeding.
“My dream car was taken away and replaced with a B13 Nissan Sentra as punishment. But that didn’t discourage me, so I wasted no time modifying the Nissan. Since I was a student with a very small budget, I had to fabricate and install the mods myself, the end result being a very lightweight FWD platform with an oversized turbocharger, making for a car that was very hard to control and drive safely on the streets.”
Having learned a lot from his VR4 and Sentra, Greg had matured to the point that he wanted his next car to be a well-balanced machine, a term often used to describe the Mazda RX-8. “From the showroom floor I was extremely impressed with the 8’s balance and great handling,” Greg says. “The hard part for me would be to avoid going overboard with modifications and hindering the reason I bought the car in the first place.” But, of course, one man’s version of overboard is another man’s happy medium. In Greg’s case, restraint meant bolting up a GReddy turbo kit within a month of purchasing his Whitewater Pearl Mazda.
From there, the floodgates opened a little further, a full INGS+1 body kit replacing the Mazdaspeed front bumper, RMagic sides and Burnout rear valances he had originally installed. The weakly offset OE wheels were also tossed in the dumpster in favor of a seriously sick set of 19-inch SSR Professor SP1s wrapped in 265/30R19 Falken FK-452 rubber. The RX-8 has some pretty stout brakes from the factory, but Greg filled up those big SSRs with StopTech’s 355mm big brake kit and finished off its aggressive stance with HKS Hipermax coilovers.
In true lowrider fashion, Greg has also given his engine bay some tidying up, along with some extra shine. The wiring harness has been tucked, and the black plastic upper intake manifold has been replaced by a custom polished unit. There’s a whole host of polished parts that complement the intake manifold and intercooler chargepipes, including a triangulated Corksport strut tower bar, Ingalls engine damper, GReddy pulleys, a catch can, and oil and rad caps. The end result of all of Greg’s tinkering under the hood isn’t just cosmetic, either; with tuning help from Jeff at MazdaManiac and Bretspeed (aka Brettus), this ’07 Renesis is now pumping out a Cobb AccessPORT-controlled 290 whp and should easily surpass the magical 300-whp mark with a little fine-tuning.
With a set of racing bucket seats and weekends at the racetrack in his future plans, Greg may have evolved beyond his lowrider upbringing into a true sport compact enthusiast, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots. As Greg put it, “I’m very fortunate to have grown up around the lowrider scene, since that’s where my attention to cosmetic detail comes from.
“My fascination with modified cars also motivated me to work hard and stay out of trouble so that I could one day own nice cars. You might say my passion for cars helped shape my choices in life. While I was working long hours at various jobs so I could mod my cars, most of my neighborhood friends were in and out of jail. Now I’m the guy with the cool car that’s hopefully motivating young kids and even my peers.”
Specs & Details
'07 Mazda RX-8
Engine 1.3-liter 13B Renesis rotary
Engine Modifications GReddy turbo kit; Profec II spec B, oil & rad caps, oil pan, pulleys & Evo TT exhaust; BNR upgraded 60-1 turbocharger; AEM water/meth injection kit; Black Halo Racing ignition & water/meth TB spacer; polished upper intake manifold; 820cc injectors in P2 position; Optima Red Top battery (relocated to trunk); Samco hoses; engine wire tuck; NGK BUR9EQP (leading) & RE9B-T (trailing) spark plugs
Engine Management Cobb AccessPORT, tuning assistance by Jeff Abrams (MazdaManiac) & Bretspeed (aka Brettus)
Drivetrain Ingalls engine damper; RP short shifter
Suspension HKS Hipermax coilovers; Corksport strut bar (f); GReddy strut bar (r)
Interior Prosport boost, water temp & oil pressure gauges; Racing Beat gauge pod; HKS Camp 2 multi-meter gauge display (mounted in the factory navigation housing); Innovate LC-1 wideband meter
Exterior INGs+1 body kit & custom trunk spoiler w/ shaved rear brake light; Lebren rear rotary accent light; JDM clear side marker lights
Wheels, Tires & Brakes SSR 19x9.5" Professor SP1 wheels; 265/30R19 Falken FK 452 tires; StopTech 355mm BBK (f)
Numbers 290 whp
Special Thanks Everyone at the Black Halo Racing; Jeff Abrams (MazdaManiac); Bretspeed (Brettus); GPR Auto; Jorge Leal for all the support & throwing the best SoCal RX-8 Dyno Days at Srmotorcars; Danny Ngo for the endless hours of troubleshooting & planning/designing the next upcoming modifications; Yuri Buccio, the biggest help a friend could ask for; Ricky at 1 Stop Performance & Audio; Eren DuPee (Lebren); The Godina Brothers; Curtis Welding; everyone in the neighborhood who stops by to just talk shop or lend a helping hand; and Eric Eikenberry & the Modified crew for the opportunity