Following the tragic passing of Ken Block at the beginning of the year, the many car people whom the Gymkhana stunt driving style pioneer had inspired are paying their respects in the best way they can. This involves making content that carries the hooning torch—precisely what drifter Mad Mike is working on these days, thanks to the first driving tests of his new 1,400 hp four-rotor Mazda3.
The Kiwi drifter and the late American marketing executive turned viral precision driver had been in close touch over the years. And now that the former is gearing up for a Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (PPIHC) 2023 assault, the athlete is preparing a serious KB homage for his run.
The famous Colorado race, with its 156 turns over a 12.4-mile course, tasks drivers with going from 9,300 all the way to the 14,110 feet summit. Stars build all-out cars for it, and the media attention is just as high as those altitude numbers.
However, this was one of the few areas where Ken Block had to take a step sideways after a mechanical failure experienced by his 1,400 hp Hoonipigasus Porsche 911 left him on the bench for the 2022 event.
And while Ken had announced plans to set things straight for Pikes Peak 2023 (the race is scheduled for Sunday, June 25), it looks like Mad Mike—Michael Whiddett on his real name—is working to add something to that.
Mad Mike announced his Ken Block tribute on Instagram
It’s all in the comments section of the second Instagram post below. You see, when Levi, an RX-7 owner, suggested that the reinvented Mazda3 should have a #kb43ver sticker (43 is KB’s competition number, which the FIA WRC has now withdrawn for the 2023 season, since he was also a rally driver) to celebrate Block and take his name to that summit, Mad Mike was quick to reply.
“I have something more special than a sticker that we will reveal at the [Pikes Peak] event,” the drifter wrote. It’s worth mentioning that Mad Mike also missed out on the 2022 PPIHC, since this Mazda was supposed to be his racer for the event, but the project couldn’t be completed in time for the assault.
When I first covered this extreme Mazda3, which Mad Mike nicknamed Bullet in keeping with his Red Bull nomenclature, the slip angle master made it clear he would tackle the PPIHC for 2023. I wondered if he and Ken would do battle, and I’m naturally looking forward to witnessing the said tribute.
Pikes Peak could get an official drift class for 2023
So, will Mad Mike drift his way up Pikes Peak for 2023, like Block did back in 2017 for Climbkhana, or would he try to beat the clock, as KB seemed to be doing last year, albeit with the latter’s Hoonipigasus 911 being AWD?
I’ll answer that with another question: what if the two were trying to set up an official drifting competition at Pikes Peak? Gues we’ll find out in a couple of months.
The insane specs of Mad Mike’s Mazda3 Bullet
Mad Mike is now in Japan for the first dynamic tests of the Japanese hatchback (following a stint at that rich Tokyo Auto Salon). That’s because the build is being put together by Japanese shop TCP Magic, albeit using locals parts along with those sourced from America and (of course) New Zealand.
Motivation comes from a four-rotor Wankel. Using twin Garrett G42 turbos and a Haltec ECU, the engine makes 1,400 hp. The unit is mated to a six-speed sequencial and, unlike in the FWD (AWD is optional) factory Mazda3, sends all that power esclusively to the rear wheels.
However, despite the KW suspension and the generously-sized Toyo rear slicks, it looks like the machine still slides around quite a bit, which is the very topic of Mad Mike’s latest Instagram posts.
And while the generously-sized rear wing is off—it interefered with cooling, the drifter explained—Mad Mike let us know that the Mazda3 Bullet is getting “BIG aero and much larger wheel and tire combo”.
Meanwhile, while we’re talking Ken Block’s legacy, you should know that his family, along with his Hoonigan crew, have set up the 43 Institute. This is an initiative aimed at continuing Ken’s top legacy, namely supporting passionate car people so they can harvest their passion.