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This board will be going into read-only mode in about a week. After that, no new posts will be allowed. See this post for more: https://www.trackjunkies.org/topic/7871-the-end-of-an-era-is-upon-us/

prankster

Miata racing

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Hello,

 

I am a newbie here and have few questions regarding miata racing.

 

I'm still investigating racing events for miatas. I've heard Spec Miata, Improved Touring, and miata challenge. I'm especially interested in the cost and modification sides.

 

I know that spec miata can be very expensive especially after reading some people's comments on how aggressive spec racers are. They don't mind having accidents since they have spare cars or parts readily available. So they can push the car without worrying the repair (of course they care but you know what i mean).

 

Some people told me to check into NASA spec miata as it's more affordable than SCCA one. Also NASA doesn't allow engine blueprinting. Can yall chime in for this statement?

 

Then, I read something about Improved Touring race. It's essentially a less strict racing event in terms of modifications. Do you know if they run IT race in Texas? I tried to find some info on this but no success.

 

I'm just trying to evaluate any option in terms of budgeting and the ability to drive the car on and off the track since I don't have a truck to tow.

 

 

Thanks in advance.

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PM sent to answer some of the questions more specific to Improved Touring ( my preferred flavor ) , here are a few comments I did not address in the PM :

 

- NASA SM ... I don't see much difference in SCCA & NASA SM other than that the NASA format features more shorter sessions / races on a given weekend. The talent may be a little deeper in SCCA , but if you can run up front in NASA you should be able to in SCCA

 

- NASA SM engine rules mirror the SCCA rules ... NASA SSM ( showroom stock miata , while has poor participation ) has a low $$$ motor program

 

- SM is expensive for a lot of reasons , but much of the reason is because it's the most competitive class with the most competitive people with everybody trying to optimize their package.

 

- You can spend just as much doing ITA , but you don't need to. It's much more laid back , not as many competitive cars / drivers , but you still need to run hard.

 

- I've found that the group that ITA runs in have more respect for each other , I went all season without touching another car ( until the final race of the season where I made a mistake and creamed a fellow racer)

 

- ITA rules are actually more open than SM , so you can spend more , but I don't know anybody down here that does. Since it's not as competitive , I run tires 2 - 3 - 4 times longer than a top level SM , I have a crate motor with bolt ons that made 115 HP most of the year ... My car is essentially an SM with a few mods.

 

- Driving to and from the track can technically be done , and I drove my original SM to the track once , but you would be much better off with a tow dolly or small trailer.

 

- IT is a great place to race , especially a newbie . You'll have an opportunity to learn your craft without the expectations of SM ( which can be quite humbling ) ... We're not stroking it , it's just that the nature of the group is that all the cars are different so their not all over each other every lap.

 

No matter what class you choose , find a way to run as many laps as you can. TDE / TWS / RPM / PCA / Chump / LeMons / Ect. ... All those laps will get you ready for being on the pace when you go W2W ... When you are on pace , race as much as you can and still do the other stuff to build your skills.

 

Check out :

- www.mazdaracers.com

- www.improvedtouring.com

- SCCA GCR @ www.scca.com

 

Enjoy the Ride !

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My advice to the newbie is learn car control in autocross.....run 30 events a year going to all the events all over texas. Hit an evolution school as well. Learn car control there. If you can't afford to run all those autocrosses then track events (even HPDE) will be out of your price range.

 

 

First is learn to drive...NEXT is try HPDE events.

 

HPDE events (track days) are about $200-400 for an entry depending on the where and who involved. Then there is the cost of track pads and rotors, about 2 tanks of fuel at the track, hotels, food, tire wear....etc. When it's all added up a weekend at the track is usually $500 or more. So not cheap...but not outrageous.

 

 

THEN comes road racing...expect the base cost to be about $750-1500 a weekend. YOU WILL need to tow the car. And this is only including minor body repair for the $1500 cost.

 

 

 

Here's the long and short of it....

 

 

Autocross is the cheapest place to learn car control (key in not crashing on track). Probably no more than about $1000-2000 a year to do it on the cheap and hit a lot of events. Minimal seat time...so you hit more events and schools and practice events to make up for it. You can ride with fast people and learn more quicker...and you NEEEEEEED to to a good school.

 

 

HPDE is next. This is a good way to learn car control as well but the consequence is this...if you can't afford to wad up your car and walk away with it as a total loss then you'll not be able to SAFELY learn how to go fast on track. In autocross you hit cones...on track a screwup could be bent or broken wheels, suspension pieces, fenders...etc. So the cost to do a few (3) of these a year is about 2-3 times that of AX.

 

 

Last is road racing. Same risks as HPDE doubled by others on track passing you anywhere there is room. Cost is about 2-3 times that of HPDE. 1 season of AX is = to a weekend of road racing. Seat time is minimal in racing. 1 hr per day with scca and about double in nasa maybe?

 

 

 

So anyway...take baby steps. Unless you have a big budget you'll need to start cheap and learn to AX properly first. If you can't keep up with front drive shitboxes in an autocross in a miata then you need to do it for a while (you won't be fast right off the bat).

 

 

I'm a realist so don't be discouraged by what i'm saying...it's a LOT of hard work to get fast. I've probably logged about 1000 track laps on various tracks and about 200 autocrosses (about 1000 autocross runs) since 1997 when I started. And I'm just NOW feeling comfortable and confident. LOL....

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Honestly, I think people overplay the "HPDE is a bad place to learn" idea. I learned at HPDEs and lots of other people have, too. I'm not saying that AutoX isn't a good idea, but as long as you're halfway intelligent and can listen and pay attention to instructors, you're probably not going to wad up your car. Yes, I have seen green and blue students hurt their cars, but it is pretty rare; most of the accidents I've seen are in the advanced groups. Perhaps my experience is not the norm, and of course, it is true that any time you put your car on track, you should be read to lose it.

 

robert

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Honestly, I think people overplay the "HPDE is a bad place to learn" idea. I learned at HPDEs and lots of other people have, too. I'm not saying that AutoX isn't a good idea, but as long as you're halfway intelligent and can listen and pay attention to instructors, you're probably not going to wad up your car. Yes, I have seen green and blue students hurt their cars, but it is pretty rare; most of the accidents I've seen are in the advanced groups. Perhaps my experience is not the norm, and of course, it is true that any time you put your car on track, you should be read to lose it.

 

robert

 

+1. Do not fear the HPDE.

 

Come out to one of the NASA events as a spectator. Or bring whatever car you currently own and run in HPDE. Walk around and check out all of the Miatas and the classes they run in, and talk to the drivers. That will give you a good idea of what the options are.

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We all come from different paths. Some start out in HPDEs, some in AutoX, some in Karting. I started out in AutoX back in 2009 and my instructors keep praising me for my great car control at HPDE events. Though, I did have my first HPDE in the beginning of 2009 a couple of months after I started autocrossing with the same praises so take that for what it's worth. :lol: I've been told it's easier to go from AutoX to HPDE rather than the other way around so take that into consideration if you plan on experiencing it all. As long as you have a good head on your shoulders and take well to criticism you'll be fine making you way up to road racing.

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I spent more than 10 years obsessively autocrossing. Had no plans beyond gymkhana, and really didn't know why I played there. I may be a slow learner, but now I don't think there's a better way to learn car control.

 

Frankly, they may start feeling comfortable, but students don't start really learning car control in HPDE until they have many events on their resumes. I always feel a little more comfortable with a student who has autox experience coming in.

 

Ideally, I think the progression should go (1) karting, (2) autocross, (3) HPDE, (4) TT/club racing, (5) ALMS.

 

But for the price tag, HPDE gives a really good return, fun for dollars. I firmly believe that the trip to and from the track is much more hazardous than time on track.

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let me start by saying i did a full season of autcross before i started doing track days. auto-x has a bunch of positives: it's an inexpensive avenue to competition that has a very strong and supportive local scene and while i'll agree that i learned alot of good stuff about car control auto-xing looking back on it i would have just done HPDE's off the bat. if you're serious about learning to drive and approach it with an academic frame of mind (listen to your instrutor, ask questions, do research and reading about driving techniques and handling dynamics on your own) you're going to learn a lot more, alot faster simply on the basis of seat time. at an auto-x you're looking at maybe, at the outside most, if they do a bunch of free runs at the end of the day, 10 minutes of driving your car for 45 seconds to a minute at a time? at a one day HPDE in a green group you're going to drive at least an hour/hour and a half for 20 minutes at a time with an instructor in the car the whole time, plus you should get some classroom sessions as well. do HPDE's cost more? sure they do but i'd rather pay $2-300 and get to drive for an hour or two and get some classroom instruction than pay $20-25 to stand around in a parking lot for 5-6 hours and drive for 5-10 minutes. also... i'm probably going to ruffle a couple feathers but i personally think you can learn a hell of alot (weight transfer, line selection, input smoothness, and even car setup) from something like i-racing or GT5.

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NASA HPDE or TT and TXMC. It's the place to be. You and I are in the same place, I drive my car to and from the track every time. You can have a lot of fun in TT and contrary to popular believe, you're driving hard, all the time. Instead of fighting for position or running defense, you're adding and inch or two to braking and turn-in every lap. You can go as hard as you want. As Sebastian Vettel said, "Quali is where you pull down your trousers and show everyone what you've got."

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Oh I only prefer the cost of AX and the virtually no way to damage the car approach. :)

 

If you have the $$$ to learn via hpde than do it :) I also encourage running multiple tracks...here's why...when you run one track over and over (see PCA instruction @ TWS) you learn the track so well that you only drive well there.

 

 

As for HPDE no matter what anyone says the costs are higher and the risk is higher. Go off sideways trying to over correct and you might clip a curb or hidded shitpile in the grass and do damage. Or say you overcool T1 @ tws CCW and go off the outside...bad things out there...or drop a wheel on the exit of T2 on the right...then wham...into the wall on the left side...shit happens :)

 

In an autocross unless you're a colossal fail-sack you won't damage the car...on track things can happen...and if you're pushing the limits trying to learn how to drive fast you WILL spin...you WILL overcook a braking zone...you WILL go off the outside of a turn (ya I've blows diamonds edge @ msrh and T2 and the launch going CW...not fun but I lived)....so ya things happen and usually there is no damage.

 

 

 

So just keep it in mind...one thing you'll almost never see me do is spin a car. Why? Honestly? Years of car control learned autocrossing. I've NEVER EVER tank slapped a car on track. I've never spun a car on a race track. I've never hit any stationary objects besides curbs (ya I've hit cars in lemons and SCCA lol)...And I can assure ya I push the limit a fair amount...but what I learned in AX is this....

 

in AX you have 3-6 runs to get 60-80 turns and maneuvers right at 100% of the limit. That is hard and 99% of people are not great at it...and 90% are not even good at it. It can be an ego crusher but it is what it is. On a road course you're trying to be consistant and tidy. I have tons of time to setup for a turn and get it right...it's way easier to pick my line but hard to get the balls to do so.

 

At H2R I turned my fastest lap on track within 3 or 4 laps in session one. I've never been on the track or seen it anywhere but on youtube. Autocross is the reason why.

 

 

Do a time attack on a track first session out of the box on a track nobody has run on and the autocrosser will usually come out on top.

 

 

 

Randy Pobst, Jason Saini, Peter Cunningham, Jeff Altenburg and a lot more all were autocrossers to start. They are all damn good drivers and are quite good at what they do. We're all too old to start at karting at 5 at this point so that's why I mentioned it. The seat time sucks but it's not about seat time. If you can't get up to 95% pace in 3 laps then you need to driver better :) That's what it taught me....that and I'm too poor to be worth a damn as a road racer LOL :D

 

 

 

BUT...as robert and a few others said...HPDE is a great way to learn as well. :) Just expensive.

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For everyone who thinks autocross is so much safer than HPDE, don't underestimate the risk of skin cancer. Standing around on a parking lot all day w/ minimal shade isn't great for the skin.

 

I learned a lot from autocross, but once I got on a real track, spending a full day for 5-6 minutes of seat time became hard to get excited about.

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For everyone who thinks autocross is so much safer than HPDE, don't underestimate the risk of skin cancer. Standing around on a parking lot all day w/ minimal shade isn't great for the skin.

facepalm.jpg?1282626490

 

Really? That's your argument now? It's dangerous to the skin IF you don't wear sunscreen (same for HPDE). Otherwise you need the sun exposure for Vitamin-D. You may also look up hats, trees, and umbrellas to suit your needs. :lol:

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How did this thread go from someone asking about what classes were available to road race a Miata to a bitch slap fest about HPDE versus Auto-X?

 

Hah, I started reading it from the top again earlier and wondered the same thing.

 

robert

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I love it when people try to talk me into trying auto-x or the virtues of it. I started ax in '02 and did it monthly till 2008. Won a few regional champoinships too. I just can't go back to it after doing trackdays. Nor am I willing to take another weekend off from work each month. If I take time off, it's gonna be to do hpde or tt.

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