Getting Dirty in the Deuce

Update by Tom Suddard to the Mazda Mazda2 project car
Jan 13, 2012

Although it's still stock, a simple tire and wheel change has transformed the way our Mazda2 looks and performs.
We taped off the edges of the wheel, but cleaning up overspray was so easy we could have skipped the step.
The finished product isn't perfect, but it's perfectly suitable. A little more practice and additional coats of the plasti-dip paint will help next time.
We aren't certain what to expect from the Deuce in a rallycross, but we're ready to get out and try it!

We mounted the knobby Michelins on a set of wheels from our turbo Miata project to keep with the recycling theme this car seems to have.

We’ve spent an awful lot more time driving our little Mazda2 (affectionately known as “The Deuce”) than we have working on it, which is the blessing of owning a newer car. It’s been a lot of fun in nearly stock form. Still, after a handful of Autocross and HPDE-type events, we were hankering for something different.

Luckily for us, the SCCA’s Central Florida Region is growing their Rallycross program. After we heard of an event just an hour away from GRM Headquarters, we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to test the Mazda2 in a new environment. The car has a surprising rally pedigree, and is a popular choice in small-bore rally competition overseas.

The Dunlop Z-1 tires we had been using were a blessing on asphalt, but Rallycross work demands a different solution. We considered going back to the factory rubber, but since they’re on loan to another GRM staffer for his daily driver, we dug into the spares pile and scrounged up a set of Michelin Rally tires that had been used on our Impreza rally car from somewhere around 2006. Luckily they were stored properly and showed very little of their age.

We mounted the knobby Michelins on a set of wheels from our turbo Miata project to keep with the recycling theme this car seems to have. Simply bolting them on could have been enough to get ourselves ready, but it just didn’t feel like a rally car without the white wheels that make all the WRC cars look so cool.

Enter After someone mentioned the site on our message board, we were intrigued enough to give it a shot. In a nutshell, the idea is to simply use Plasti Dip spray paint to recolor your wheels. The “paint” is available in red, black, or white, both online from or from many local hardware and home improvement stores. The Plasti Dip finish is supposed to be very durable, easy to apply, and easy to clean up. How could we not try it?

After trying it ourselves, we’ll endorse its claims of easy application and easy cleanup. For the $15 investment into three cans, we’re pretty happy with the results, but should have gone with another can for more complete and even coverage. Still, they look much better than before and we are eager to see how they endure a few Rallycross events.

We’ll let you know how the event went next week, but in the meantime we’re enjoying some shakedown testing on the dirt roads here in town. The rally tires are awfully loud on the pavement, but work great on gravel and dirt… whoulda thunk?

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