Hello ALMS Fans! My name is Guy Cosmo, and my teammate Jamie Bach and I are the drivers for the recently-announced B-K Motorsports #8 Sportsbook.com, Mazda Rotary-Powered, P2 Courage. (click here to read the announcement) (place link to announcement from ALMS website) What you are about to read is a personal journal I’ve written over the past few days as I embarked on the next step in the creation of this exciting new program – the shake-down of the race car at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France!
Here’s the Story…
To start things off, I’ll provide some background on myself and the program. B-K Motorsports released a major announcement during the weekend of the Sebring 12 Hour just recently, with an American Le Mans Series P2 racing program. Sportbook.com, the world’s largest online gaming and gambling website, has signed with B-K Motorsports as the premier marketing partner in our program, and we couldn’t be luckier to have a more enthusiastic and excited group of people joining forces with us. B-K Motorsports and Sportsbook.com together are making history as this program marks the Mazda’s return to endurance racing, after nearly fifteen years, with their famed Rotary engine power! We will be running 3-Rotor evolution of the highly popular Mazda Renesis engine found in the street-prod Mazda RX-8. Strap that motor into the successful Courage C-65 P2 chassis that we’ve ordered and bolt on some Goodyear tires for the season, and we are ready to rock!
But first we must build the car! This whole program was literally signed and announced a mere three weeks ago, and since Sportsbook.com will be the Presenting Sponsor of the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta next week at Road Atlanta, you could imagine we’ve been a little busy getting this program off the ground! So busy in fact, that Courage and two of our star personnel from B-K have been in France, sleepless for two weeks straight, making sure we’ll have the hottest ride successfully ripping laps at Road Atlanta next week.
The next step: Jump on a plane to France and shake the car down at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit!
The Adventure Begins…
Jump on a plane I did – from Los Angeles to Paris for an eleven-hour, non-stop flight. Ugh…I almost think we should have flown around the globe the other way! Unfortunately, even after taking sleeping pills, I couldn’t sleep on the plane. I did manage to watch the movie, “The Incredibles”, (or Les Indestructibles as our French speaking friends would say), and highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t. I’m sure I’ll get some mixed responses, but it’s got my vote as the greatest movie of all time – see it! That, and some good music on the way, and I’m now in Paris! Off the plane and onto a train to go see my automobile – and I did manage to sleep on the train. It’s amazing how quiet the French TGV is, and how fast they are - Le Mans in just an hour and a half.
Upon my arrival at the Le Mans train station was Karine from Courage to pick me up and deliver me to the Courage factory. Completely exhausted and zombie-like, I was still very excited to finally get there and see the progress of the car. This is basically the biggest announcement of my life and I can not tell you enough how exciting it is to be chosen as one of the drivers for such a phenomenal program. Needless to say, I’ve been smiling non-stop since the announcement at Sebring.
Even just leaving the train station was exciting. Just to see the words “Le Mans” on a number of the buildings was special, and the town looked very neat. Old buildings, small streets, round-abouts everywhere, and plenty of little cars buzzing around. There was actually quite a bit of traffic from construction, as the town of Le Mans and surrounding areas are implementing a Tram system for public transportation. It is a very cool little place, I wish I could have seen more on the way had I had more time. But, first things first – to the car!
When we arrived at Courage I was immediately introduced to everyone in the office and given the short tour. They’ve got some very cool pictures on the walls of car’s they’ve built in the past and raced at Le Mans. I was then taken into the shop where three of those beautiful historic Courage race cars sat on the left, and then I met the man himself – Yves Courage. What an incredibly nice gentleman, and what history he’s got! I walked through the shop and met the Courage staff one by one. They were all extremely friendly and most of them spoke English very well, which was going to make the visit a bit easier as my French is a little less than perfect to say the least. The shop was very well organized and people were busy everywhere. You could tell that everyone was really focused and diligently working on different aspects of the assembly of this car.
I walked further through the shop and found Mike Williams and Ron Roland – B-K Motorsport’s two pro’s who have been heading up the program and working with Courage in their factory for almost ten days now. Mike and Ron both worked with Jamie in the Star Mazda series and do excellent work – we’re fortunate to have two guys of their caliber running this program for us. Along with Mike and Ron, as you could guess, was the race car! Very cool! There sat the tub of the C-65 chassis in carbon fiber, full front suspension made with aero-tube assembled and hung on the car, uprights with huge Brembo carbon brake rotors and carbon brake pads as thick as a sandwich (and I make a really thick sandwich!), and rather massive brake-cooling ducts for those bad-boys. The front shocks were mounted, rockers and pushrods all connected, as well as the front anti-roll bar, along with the entire steering rack, steering shaft, steering wheel (need one of those!), gas, brake and clutch pedals, master cylinders, brake lines, shock sensor, steering sensors, wheel speed sensors and all – awesome.
I walked past the cockpit, complete with enclosed fuel cell, battery box, brake bias adjuster and sequential shift lever. The outside of the cockpit had the carbon fiber floor pans on each side, one with a huge radiator and the other with a huge oil cooler – because as history’s proven, these rotary engines need lots of cooling! Both sides were complete with the cooling tunnels, again of full carbon fiber, leading up to the radiators, along with the wheel well guards made of Kevlar. I headed towards the rear of the car and there it was – the three-rotor Mazda Renesis engine. Awesome. It’s amazing how small and compact that engine is, and how low it sits in the car! The rotary-specific custom front engine mount was already in place along with all the cooling lines, wiring and side-rails that will connect the rear bell housing to the chassis.
What’s important to remember at this point is that this program was initiated not-yet three weeks ago. SpeedSource Engineering did a great job getting the developmental 3-rotor together, and it had arrived in France less than a week ago. Courage had received a ‘dummy’ 3-rotor engine earlier and began evaluating how they were going to fit the engine to the car. Remember, you can’t stress a rotary engine like you can the block of a V8 engine, so mounting gets tricky – besides, this thing is so much smaller than a piston engine, everything is different. Custom engine mounts had to be designed front and rear – the rear engine mount, extremely impressive, had just come off the CNC machine the day before. Keep in mind, the drive-line of a rotary engine is higher than in a piston engine where the crank shaft sits at the bottom of the motor – in the rotary, it’s in the center – roughly three inches higher. Where do you think the input shaft on a normal transaxle sits? You guessed it – at the bottom. An awful lot of work and redesign took place to fit the three-rotor to the chassis – and so far, it all looks great.
Just beyond the chassis in the next bay sat the entire bell housing and transaxle assembly. The transmission, attached to the bell housing was completely ready to be bolted to the car, full with rear suspension hung, shocks mounted, CV joints and axles in place, uprights and (once again, HUGE) Carbon brakes, shift linkage, brake lights, rain light, rear wing uprights – you name it – ready to bolt on. All we were waiting for was the flywheel and clutch assembly to be finished up, and then the rear of the car could be bolted on and begin the next step of completion.
THAT, my friends, will all be described in the next part of my journal, which will post on the ALMS website in the next few days. In the mean time, we are all hard at work to get the car completed, and I can’t wait to get this baby out on track – at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit!!