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Parts Demand From Amateur Racers Helps Mazda Justify the Miata's Business Case

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#1
Johnny D

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Mazda's business case for the MX-5 includes profits from selling replacement parts to amateur racers who smash up their Miatas.

 

landscape-1468856052-mx-5cupcrashedmiata

 

It's no secret that the Mazda Miata is a darling among amateur racers. Affordability, availability, and ease of maintenance on a budget make the MX-5 a major player at racing events around the world. And it turns out, Mazda has made that a part of the Miata's business case.

 

Of course, there's the Mazda MX-5 Global Cup Car, a factory-built, race-prepped ND Miata built for a one-marque world championship. Our man Sam Smithhopped a ride in a Global MX-5 Cup race, and had a ton of fun—even if he was nearly dying the whole time.

 

But Mazda sees profit even from folks who build their own race cars out of street-legal Miatas—so much so, the automaker counts replacement parts profit into its business case when it undertakes a redesign of the venerable roadster.

 

This tidbit comes to us from David Undercoffler at Automotive News. Writing about the Miata's near-ubiquity in amateur racing, Undercoffler reveals that the popularity of the MX-5 helps justify its business case in a market where sports car sales are still soft.

 

"It’s no secret that small sports cars and roadsters never have fully recovered from their recession-induced slump," Undercoffler writes. "When Mazda bean counters do the math on the business case for another generation of the Miata, knowing that there will be reliable demand for parts helps the car’s case."

 

“Those program managers [...] get that total business picture,” Robert Davis, Mazda North American Operations’ senior vice president of special assignments, told Automotive News. “They try to understand it upfront, so while the sales volume of the cars might not be there, they can expect to have X number of parts sales for the next six to eight years.”

 

In other words, Mazda anticipates a healthy demand for replacement body panels, drivetrain components, and other parts that may fall victim to the rigors of amateur racing. It's a built-in, long-term revenue stream from the motorsports world, something most mainstream automakers probably can't rely on.

 

So don't feel bad if you scuff up your trackday Miata. Every trip you make to the Mazda parts desk helps justify the continued existence of this beloved roadster. Our man Mr. Smith sure did his part.


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#2
Johnny D

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Kind of a Part 2 to this. Be sure to check out the last part. Any thoughts?

Maybe on the super speedways too, Danica's/others have hit that inside wall so many times.

 

The Expense Of Racing: Thoughts On Runoff Areas

 

article_2_main_3_jpg_677x1000_q100.jpg

 

One of the big expenses of racing can be crash damage. Totaling a car, for example, can equal the cost of an entire season. Like all sorts of unexpected events, crashes can be painful because of the expense and extra painful because you aren't prepared for the expense. We're pretty sure, for example, that a lot of these drivers weren't expecting the invoices they generated on the opening lap:

 

After a particularly crash-filled weekend of Pirelli World Challenge, we got to thinking about crash damage. Obviously, the best thing is not be be involved in a crash. Second, if you are going to be in a crash, have it be a low-speed crash. Third, if you have to be in a medium-speed or high-speed crash, have it not be near a wall. On this last one, we just have to say that concrete barriers are necessary for crew and spectator safety, but, boy, they really tear up cars.

 

To this standard list of three "wishes" for crashing, we now add a fourth: if you're have to be in a medium-speed to high-speed crash, don't have it happen where there is a huge grassy runoff. Now, we admit, this one may seem odd, since big runoff seems so helpful (the tire wall is soooooo far away). But this leaves out of the equation that the grass is bumpy and rutted (from trucks and rain). The ground wants to catch you sliding car and flip it. When that happens, mmmmmmm very bad. An example from VIR:

 

 

We thought this was kind of unusual, until we saw it happen again last week and then remembered several other cases. Grass is not as friendly as it looks.

 

No safety system is perfect. But less high-speed runoff and more gravel traps would seem to be better. Given the structure of money flows in racing, we'd suggest that if you see concrete barriers or bumpy runoff or missing gravel traps at a course you run that you put pressure on your sanctioning body for change. NASA or SCCA or PCA or SVRA pay the track. The track per se doesn't care about your crash damage expenses, but they do care if the sanctioning bodies run fewer events or ask for discounts.


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#3
Rob Burgoon

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A little concerning if they start seeing the motorsports parts dept as a revenue center.  Although they probably are doing just fine selling to us at roughly dealer cost...


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#4
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This motorsports parts dept. as a revenue/profit center is nothing new for Mazda. It started before Spec Miata.


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#5
Peter Olivola

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As long as there will be everything from F5 to GT1 on a race course, gravel traps will be, at best, no better than runoff.  Formula and Prototype (i.e., very light weight,) don't do much more than skip over the gravel, frequently in violent flips.  The trend is away from gravel traps and toward secondary paved surfaces, giving a driver a second chance to regain control and slow or redirect the car safely.

 

 

No safety system is perfect. But less high-speed runoff and more gravel traps would seem to be better. Given the structure of money flows in racing, we'd suggest that if you see concrete barriers or bumpy runoff or missing gravel traps at a course you run that you put pressure on your sanctioning body for change. NASA or SCCA or PCA or SVRA pay the track. The track per se doesn't care about your crash damage expenses, but they do care if the sanctioning bodies run fewer events or ask for discounts.



#6
Johnny D

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As long as there will be everything from F5 to GT1 on a race course, gravel traps will be, at best, no better than runoff.  Formula and Prototype (i.e., very light weight,) don't do much more than skip over the gravel, frequently in violent flips.  The trend is away from gravel traps and toward secondary paved surfaces, giving a driver a second chance to regain control and slow or redirect the car safely.

 

Is this the thinking at COTA too? I was watching the conti race and a couple cars got written off. Not a tire or safer barrier in site. Just gaurd rails.

 

J~


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#7
Peter Olivola

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Not having been to COTA, I'm not in a position to answer.

 

Is this the thinking at COTA too? I was watching the conti race and a couple cars got written off. Not a tire or safer barrier in site. Just gaurd rails.

 

J~



#8
FTodaro

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On the topic of Mazda making money on parts, I have no problem with that. There are few manufactures that even take an interest in amateur racers, and I am thankful that they do. Relatively speaking we have a pretty good deal, good service and commitment to the sport.


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#9
Cnj

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Is this the thinking at COTA too? I was watching the conti race and a couple cars got written off. Not a tire or safer barrier in site. Just gaurd rails.

J~

Yes, that is the FIA Grade 1 track design approach now (ie. Hardscape runnoff)
Regarding COTA not having compression barriers, that is not accurate. The circuit has Tecpro barriers at most corners.

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#10
Danny Steyn

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Yes, that is the FIA Grade 1 track design approach now (ie. Hardscape runnoff)
Regarding COTA not having compression barriers, that is not accurate. The circuit has Tecpro barriers at most corners.

CNJ

 

And there is miles of runoff area - almost a track with very little consequences, unless its a major failure or off. 


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#11
Johnny D

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That's good to know.

The place I saw was I think at the far end of the track/back side, 2nd gear hairpin. Coming off they lost it and spun to the inside where there was an opening for emergency vehicle to exit and they were hitting right there. Maybe I'll look for the video.

 

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#12
Johnny D

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#13
Cnj

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That looks like T11. I would not have thought it was possible to do what he did as it's essentially a straight shortly after a very tight turn. But the video shows you can do real damage even on a well designed track.

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#14
Johnny D

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I've never been but doesn't going into that turn (12) uphill and coming off downhill? If you rotate the car, wouldn't the back get light and come around if you got on the gas to early just like what happened?
So do those Armco's give or since no one would ever hit it, just make it solid?
Just sayin
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