Spec Miata Racecar

My current racecar is a 1991 Mazda Miata that I race in a class called Spec Miata.Spec classes tend to have certain characteristics which make them very popular.
Since the modifications that you are allowed to do are severely restricted, likewise so are the things that you have to do, in order to be competitive.
Since the cars are all nearly identical, the class places a much greater emphasis on driver skill.

There is no such thing as cheap racing. However, as such things go, Spec Miata is probably one of the most affordable roadracing classes there is. It is possible that a purpose built, spec class, such as Formula SCCA may be cheaper to run than Spec Miata, but they cost about $40,000 to buy a car, and it's possible to build a competitive Spec Miata for about $15,000, or just get one on the track for about $6,000. Competitive used Spec Miatas can be often be bought for around $12,000.

One thing that really helps the Spec Miata racer, is the incredible support that Mazda provides via Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development.

With all of these things going for it, it is no surprise that in the San Francisco Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) the Spec Miata field will have 40 to as many as 65 cars in a race. This many people in a race with cars all nominally identical, provides for some incredibly close and exciting racing. For example, In one race, a friend qualified two places ahead of me. His qualifying lap time was 30 milliseconds faster than mine. That is about one third of one tenths of a second. Or, about the time a car traveling at 100 miles per hour takes to travel about six feet. Alternatively, a Spec Miata traveling at 100mph at the end of the main straight at Thunderhill Park Racetrack will take about 60 milliseconds (0.060 seconds) to travel it's own length. Four of us qualified with lap times that differed by less time than that.

I bought my racecar in June of 2003 with the intent of driving it on the street until I had repaired my supercharged MGBGT. When the MG was back on the road, I was planning on turning the Miata into a racecar. To make a long story short, things didn't go according to plan and the Miata entered it's first race that October. Within a year, the car brought home it's first trophy in an SCCA race running in ITX, a class that allows people with nearly stock cars to pay a little extra money to drive in a second race on a race weekend.

I first drove on a racetrack in November of 1986 when I took the 4-day course at the Bob Bondurant school of Performance Driving at Sears Point International Raceway. A little over a year later, I got my SCCA competition license in March of 1988, and campaigned a 1976 rabbit, in ITB for nearly two seasons. At the end of that second season, in November of 1989, I first raced a 1968 Cortina, known as "Foocar", in the 4 hour Illgen enduro. Due to road damage from the Loma Prieta Quake, a few days before what was supposed to be Foocar's first race, I drove it from my home in Felton (near Santa Cruz), the hundred miles to Sears Point. I then raced in in both the ITC regional and in the 4 hour enduro (where it finished in the top half, simply because it didn't crash or break), and then drove it home.

Sometime around 1990, I started teaching at open track events put on by the California Capri Club. These events soon grew into what is now the National Auto Sport Association, the other NASA. A few years later, I wrote a textbook for NASA. The draft of the next revision of Performance Driving, a Practical Introduction is posted on my website, and I hope to have the new graphics done and be able to publish it as a bound book in the very near future.

Dec 3-4 2004 will mark the second running of N.A.S.A.'s 25 Hour Enduro. This just happens to be the longest roadrace in the world. LeMans is only 24 hours long. Last Year The enduro received a tremendous amount of news coverage.

To practice for the 25 hour enduro, we plan on running two shorter enduros before the 25 hour. The RDC is sponsoring their 45th annual 4-hour enduro On November 7,2004 at Thunderhill. One week later, there will be a 3 hour nighttime enduro also at Thunderhill, to give the team practice racing at night.

We need help for the enduro

As I have observed, racing is not cheap. Especially if your goal is to win, rather than merely to drive on the track while a race is in progress. This is why racers look for sponsorships for their racecars. I understand that sponsors give racers money to bring customers in to their business.

First of all, there is the simple benefit of people seeing your businesses name on the side of a racecar. It is a moving billboard, and can be a very eye catching one at that. Also, as a racer, people are often asking me for reccomendations for automotively related businesses. I can, and will, send "word of mouth" business your way.

When my car is not at a race, or being worked on for a race, it can be parked at your business, or it can be brought to your business for special occasions. Racecars catch people's attention. They stop and look.

With 14 years of experience teaching performance driving, I can come to your business and put on a "groundschool" on performance driving. I can cover the principles behind driving technique, as well as other driving skills such as accident avoidance. These classes could be put on for your friends, employees, or customers.

Stories of races and trackdays:
Crosstraining : Taking a motorcycle trackschool on a 20 year old BMW August 2003
First Time Out : First race and day on track with Miata
Season Opener : Norcal NASA 2004 Season opener
March Race First time on track with the SM suspension
In the dark My first time at Buttonwillow, with a 3 hour nighttime enduro
Back with the SCCA : My first race with the SCCA since 1995
Expensive Noise : Spec Miata practice day, July 6, 2004
Passable : Racing with a severely underpowered motor
Go Conquer Fourth : The racecar is finally competitive, time to work on the driver.
Three hour "practice" enduro wekend Sherrie Schaeffer co-drove
25 hour enduro Dec 4-5, 2004. I finally achieve a lifelong ambition, and we take 5th in class to boot.

Thumbnail galleries showing progress of 1991 Blue Miata from salvage case to racecar.
the racecar when I bought it
with some parts pulled
with new cage
fresh bodywork

Thumbnail galleries of races and track days:
first day on track, stock suspension, Oct 25, 2003
Racecar in turn 11 Infineon, Used as computer screen background
scca040425pixDamage from being collected in a spin, April 25, 2004
Infineon, May 2004: Instructing with NASA
3 Hour Enduro November 14, 2004. Sherrie Schaeffer in car. Also Germansport pitcrew.Pictures by Larry Colen
Three hour "practice" enduro wekend Pictures by Scott Neville

Other Pictures:
bbswheels : 15 inch M edition bbs wheels for sale
miatasmall : jasmine at miata track day
paddock pix Lorry is dwarfed by "real race rigs"
enkidu040912 :Teaching in my streetcar, September 11-12, 2004
spyderspider A convertible is irresistable to the local fauna
twins Taken at a Bay Area Miata Outlaws In-n-Out lunch meet
Auction listing for white '93, aka Enkidu
Pictures of October Weekend Showing tire abuse, trophy, and "all my toys"
enkidu041024: Teaching in my streetcar, October 24, 2004
Whee! Pitch and almost not catch, October 24, 2004
racecar on trailer

Video Clips:
I have pretty poor bandwidth, so be warned downloading movies can take quite a while.
Exciting spin and continue at buttonwillow, quicktime 323k
Exciting spin and continue at buttonwillow, mp4 1.5M
Getting CollectedWatch the gas spilling from the Rx7 at the start of the clip, coming out of turn 5 Glenn spins and I get tagged avi format 6.6M
Getting collected (quicktime) :Watch the gas spilling from the Rx7 at the start of the clip, coming out of turn 5 Glenn spins and I get tagged, quicktime format 26.9 M
I pass a couple of SMs in the ITX race
amusing spin I spin coming out of 5, and start to head for the wrong road

Miata Documentation:
miatanotes : Hints that I've collected from other people about setup
opentrackTimes.xls : spreadsheet of laptimes 6 July, 2004
miataday040706/MiataDataAM.txt : Morning laptimes 6 July 2004
miataday040706/MiataDataPM.txt : Afternoon laptimes 6 July 2004
flowbench.txt :Some ideas I had for computerized flowbench software

miatateardown040710 :
broken040710 :
piston040710 :
miatateardown040716 :

Fixing dented fender and door
Fixing ugly bumper
What the camslooked like on the weak motor
Setting cam timing I later learned that it works better with wrenches on the hexes on the camshafts
bottomend : of a new motor
outside of motor:
fuses : Fusebox, fuse layout
heatshield: mysterious party where header joins exhaust
motormountpremature : I put the motor mounts on wrong
Power steering pressure sensor I didn't know what it was
newhead : What a factory fresh head looks like, showing timing belt deflection and cam timing
plugsattrack : Checking my plugs
reinstall : Putting stuff back together

If you would like to join our team and help out, send me email at lrc@red4est.com. Or join the team mailing list.

Copyright (C) 2004 Larry Colen
Most recently modified by lrc at Sun Oct 24 23:27:12 PDT 2004