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Interview with Nick Fanelli
Submitted by SuperUser on Friday, April 2, 2004 - 8:53am

We, at RotaryNews, really wanted to cover the Mazda Rev-It-Up event... only problem was, we cover ROTARY News, not Mazda News. Since Rev-It-Up uses the Mazda3, a piston powered car, we thought we would just go, have a good time, and not cover the event.
While were were at the event, we met one of the instructors, Nick Fanelli, who campaigns the SpeedSource RX-8 in the Grand Am Cup! Here is the Rotary Connection for a story!

So, since we are doing this story now, a little background on Rev-It-Up is in order. Mazda Rev-It-Up touts itself as the world's largest performance driving school tour and competitive driving challenge. Mazda teamed up with AMCI Marketing It includes classroom instruction, performance driving school, national competition, "lifestyle festival," and the ability to flog other Mazda cars (including the RX-8) on a non-timed autocross type course. (but watch out, hit more than a few cones on this course and you'll be booted out!)

Of the many highly qualified instructors, you'll find Nick Fanelli in the Grip Dynamics Course. Nick has won the overall series championship for the Start II Racing School in Florida. He went on to capitalize on that experience by competing in the Central Florida Regional Championship and winning the Formula Continental class in 1995. In 2000, he raced in the U.S. Formula 2000 Championships, finishing fifth in the Continental Championship Series. Today, he is campaigning a Mazda RX-8 in the Grand Am Cup.
We had a chance to ask Nick a few questions, here are his answers:

Q: What can you tell us about campaigning the RX-8 in the Grand Am Cup?
A: Well, we completed our season opener a few weeks ago. The Car is great, well balanced, the brakes are unbelievable. The breaks on it are as good as those on the Formula 2000 I ran last year. I can go much further into the corner before I break, like I did on the Formula. We are using the production engine. We first though we could rev it past 10000 rpm to get the best performance out of it, but in our testing, we looked at the data sheets from our track testing and found it liked to be shifted right around 8500-9000 rpms. When we changed our shifting to do this, on long periods of acceleration, it seemed to pull better.

Q: How did you get involved in Rev-It-Up?
A: it was actually through Mazda's partner, AMCI, not Mazda itself. AMCI Staffs the event. I've worked with them for the past 4 years. But Mazda is very pleased with my involvement.

Q: What are your impressions of Rev-It-Up?
A: It is very neat doing consumer events. There really have been no negative situations, or comments. Everyone is happy and having a good time. The people I teach to are all attentive, ask great questions, an all want to do better.

Q:Do you teach any differently to these people since the Mazda3 is a Front Wheel Drive(Front) car vs if it were a Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)?
A: No, not really, those with skill, I tell to do more late braking, since the FWD car's grip is better suited for it.

Q:What about competitively, do you see any advantage for one over the other?
A:Well, I have the most experience with RWD cars, so I'm more comfortable with it. In the Grand Am Cup right now, there are some ver fast FWD RSX's. However, since they develop so much power, and the front wheels are not only used for steering, but also for delivering the power, they have very high wear on the front tires, and start to fade fast because of it. So what I teach at Rev-it-Up about grip comes into play. The tire can only do so much, and those FWD cars have high wear, and high wheel spin.

We would like to thank Nick for taking some time to talk with us. You can catch him at the remaining Rev-It-Up events We will be following his progress in the Grand Am Cup SpeedSource RX-8 all this season!

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