Mazda Rev It Up Competition
July 27, 2003

I had stayed up really late the night before and got up at 6 am (ugh) to go to the Mazda Rev It Up competition. I was tired and not all that alert (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) but I knew it would still be fun.

Mazda Rev It Up is a timed competition using a pro's time around an autocross-like course as a bogey. The formula for calculating the points awards anyone slower less than 1,000, and anyone faster with more than 1,000 points. It's all relative so that the scores of each competitor can be compared with others on different days and in different cities.

The competition uses new Mazda 6 sedans equipped with aftermarket exhausts, stiffer springs and Falken tires, but they are otherwise stock. They are also equipped with what I call "fake manual" transmissions. Essentially they are automatics with which the driver can shift up or down sequentially by pulling the lever.

They are terrible because they are extremely slow to shift. It takes about 1 full second from the time you pull the lever until the transmission actually shifts. The result is that there is no way to accelerate quickly beyond about 4,000 rpm without shifting before the engine hits the rev limiter at around 6,000 rpm. Hitting the rev limiter causes the engine to produce less power and slows the car. You may as well be in neutral.

It's not that Mazda's "fake manual" is lousy. That's how all automatic-based "manual" transmissions are at this time. The main reason these were used in the competition is that true manual transmissions (clutches and all) would not survive the beating that thousands of people would inflict.

Anyway, each person got 2 runs in the cars. I was ok though frustrated because I was not driving as well as I could, making silly little mistakes. My second run was the faster one and netted me 539 points. I ended up 133rd fastest out of 1,971 drivers in the Washington DC area (top 7%). Overall I was 1,839 out of 21,538 competitors (top 9%). Apparently I was also the fastest "Nguyen" out of 70.

It was a fun event. There were other Mazdas on display, video games, karts and driving clinics. I looked over the new RX-8 which is very unique. It is a lot smaller than it appears in magazines. The interior is rather snug but I think it's going to do well in the marketplace because it is so original (in a good way). Kudos to Mazda for building innovative cars and putting on an entertaining event.

They'll be doing it again next year so check it out: Mazda Rev It Up