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#69131 Its official

Posted by davew on 11-05-2014 05:26 PM

I have kept my mouth shut on here for all 50+ pages of engine discussions. Here goes:


This was not a rules issue. The problem was simply greed. The rule was very clearly written and was written by an engine builder, who was found non-compliant at the Runoffs. One driver wanted to beat another driver, so he built an engine beyond the rules as WRITTEN. Then engine builder #2 decided to go a little farther. So the next engine had to be better, and better and better. The first engine builder wanted to sell more engines so he went a little farther than the rest. Then he advertised how much power his "tech shed legal" engine put out. Eventually what was illegal become industry standard for all engine builders. Plain and simple greed.


I have not seen the Runoffs heads myself. But I have talked with 3 people who did see them, and touch them. All 3 had the same opinion, the heads where cheaters. No if, no ands and no buts. All the heads that failed the short turn radius protest at the Runoffs where blatantly modified beyond anything remotely allowed by the rules. Some where so bad that the engine builder did not even try to hide what was done. He expected the inspectors to be poorly qualified.


Any engine builder, who knowingly builds an engine that is not compliant with the rules, should not be allowed to be in any kind of a management position within the sanctioning body. Let me point out that Mr Tiley Of Ti-speed is on the "Spec Miata Advisory Committee" (SMAC) and Mr Drago of East Street is a member of the SCCA Compitition Racing Board (CRB). Do you wonder why the new  "leadership Team" had to stay away from the current official rules makers.


SCCA (with NASA and Mazda's help) had 3 choices:

1)Leave the rule as currently written

2)Rewrite the rule to allow additional modifications

3)Rewrite the rule to allow less/no modifications


Option 1 would make every head modified beyond the plunge cut (including slight blending) non-compliant and need replacement

Option 2 would tell the cheaters that what they did was ok and force everyone who was legal to do the same modifications

Option 3 forces everyone to go to stock heads, with little or no mods


I am not saying which is the best decision. None of these options are good. They are all bad. But someone had to make a decision and the decision was made. Now we have to live with it. Maybe there is more info coming that has not been made public yet. Maybe the leadership team just got pissed at the Miata world.  Blame the people responsible for this problem, the ones that broke the rules.


Any of these options is going to force a lot of new heads to be purchased (if you wish to be compliant). I am making an assumption here, that most of the heads that have been plunge cut, also have some sort of blending. I doubt anyone ever ordered a pro built motor with the phrase "I want to be 100% legal and if I am down on power I do not care". Again an assumption, the majority of "pro built" heads would be illegal even if the current rule was enforced. Is there a small number of heads that have plunge cuts and nothing else, probably. But remember whom to blame.


Which brings me to another point. ENFORCEMENT. Primarily lack of it. Road racing has a history of lack of enforcement. In other forms of racing, tech is not just about safety. It is about finding cheaters. The current process puts too much emphasis on competitor vs competitor protests. Which never happens. Then once a year we have a tear down party at the Runoffs. Where a group of Stewards decide what is compliant and what is not. These people are not experts in Spec Miatas or even in engines or even mechanically inclined. They (supposedly) know how to interpret the GCR and how to shuffle the paperwork. This lack of expertise on the officials was taken advantage of by the offending engine builders. Bringing back the compliance team (or czar) in some form is part of my proposal that was posted here last week.


From my understanding (please correct me if I am wrong) we had heads from East Street, Ti-Speed, Rush and X-factor found non-compliant at the Runoffs. For the record I have engines from Ti-Speed, and X-factor in the shop, I also have a good working relationship with East street. Although my primary engine builder is Stewart. A lot of you also do not realize that this website is owned by Jim Drago of East Street. I know his ownership has caused me to delete posts in the past.  It is for that reason that this post may not stay visible very long.


It is the notion started years ago by Jim Daniels of "tech shed legal". Meaning who cares, if what you did was legal or not. If it passes tech, who cares. Well, I for one care! It is the greed initiated by the phrase tech shed legal that got us into this mess. The engine builders who tore open the envelope in the name of profit and fame are too blame. The driver who turned a blind eye, saying make mine better but legal (wink wink). If you want somebody to blame, look no farther than the people promoting cheating in the name of tech shed legal. Whether it be ceramic wheel bearings, bent spindles or ported heads. It is all cheating. Call it tech shed legal if you want, I call it cheating and the cheaters should have to pay.


How should the cheaters be punished? Each and every one of us that has ever been beaten by an illegal car has been cheated. Maybe we lost a trophy or bragging rights. Maybe it was contingency money or tires. Maybe it was the time we have all wasted on this topic on this website.


I have volunteered to rejoin the SMAC, which I was Chairman of for several years. In an effort to eliminate the cheats. Whether the cheats be modified timing components, hidden resistors/switches, reprogrammed ECU, lightened ring gears or anything else.


I would also like to propose moving this discussion to the official SCCA forum which is currently unused (only a single post this year, and 3 last year) as a form of making all info posted unbiased. Visit www.sccabb.com


Thanks for listening


  • Tyler Dahl, joe varble, Dave Cox and 29 others like this

#41169 COTA Qualifying Issue & Proposal

Posted by Danny Steyn on 01-17-2013 09:03 AM

Hi to all

this is the letter that I plan to send to the Race Chair and copy National - it deals with the SCHEDULE ONLY - I will send a seperate letter regarding registration and numbers.

Let me know if you are on board with this or not. Would hate to send this if their is no support. All comments and suggestions appreciated

To the COTA Race Chair and Committee

As a club racer and member, the entire race community is looking forward to this event. We all want it to be a safe, exciting and fun event, and of course we want to be invited back to COTA for many years to come.

With that in mind, there is a serious safety concern regarding the schedule. It is anticipated that Spec Miata and possibly other run groups will be at or over the 85 car limit for the event. With large fields like this it is imperative that the qualifying sorts out the order from fast to slow. The single 15 minute qualifying session per race will not be sufficient to shake out the order for these classes.

The end result is that if faster cars are held up in a very short congested qualifying session, they will start behind slower cars, and in a class with essentially zero horsepower differential, in the race this will lead to faster cars trying to make passes on slower cars trying to defend their position. We have seen the disastrous results when this happens. Every club will have its own horror stories – 2 in recent memory are

  • June Sprints 2011 due to a gridding error
  • VIR 2010 National when a safe distance was not maintained between two classes in the race group and the faster cars in came up on the slower cars while they were still bunched up.

We the racers believe that the timing system should be operational and implemented on Friday. We would prefer that Fridays schedule is changed to have 2 x 25 minute Qualifying sessions (1 for Saturdays Race, and 1 for Sundays Race. The Schedule for Saturday and Sunday need not be changed. The 15 minute qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday will still stand and the grid will be determined from the combined timing sheets. This is done in the SEDiv at all double nationals (there are no practice sessions on Fridays but drivers can sign up for the test day before the 3-day weekend)

I hope that you will consider our proposal and look forward to your response


If you approve of this the way it is here - please hit the LIKE button to show support for the letter, If you have any changes you would like to see then add them to the thread
  • Mike Collins, davew, HoneyBadger - BrianW and 26 others like this

#104009 NASA Champs Eastern States @ Sebring - SMACK

Posted by MPR22 on 10-23-2017 08:41 PM

Wow, where to begin?  I think I have an inkling of what those Oscar winners might feel like when they get called to the stage.  All I can think about is how many people have helped me achieve this amazing goal. 


Dad and I got in to this hoping we might be able to race together but a few things kept that from happening.  Although he has been unable to race he has supported me for the last 7 years, sharing my successes and failures.  Hopefully he is as thrilled as I am with our efforts.  Thank you dad.  Mom lets us both go racing and takes care of things when dads away.  Thank you, mom. 


December 2009, at driver school this friendly guy starts chatting me up and wants to know what I am driving.  That awesome, green, silver and hot pink Spec Miata.  He smiles and says me too, but mine is blue. Our instructors liked our first session and were bored and told us to go at it and race each other.  We spent the next two days chasing each other around and we have been ever since.  Almost always I am P2.  Chris Haldeman is the best racing buddy you could ever have.  Not because he is an awesome, mechanic, engine builder, car hauler or painter, but because he is always encouraging me to be better.  From that first day to this last weekend he has been there for me.  Thank you, Chris.


My wife and kids have been supportive and when I am just too rung out from work and life my wife is always the first to say, why don’t you go racing.  Wish she could have been there for the week but she has responsibilities that keep her from following me around.   As you may know our house flooded in August and our Runoffs were ended by the hurricane.  When we got a plan together on rebuilding the house and we were on the path to recovery, she once again said, why don’t you go racing.  Thank you my love.


Thanks to you all for the congratulations and well wishes.  It is sincerely appreciated. 


If anyone wants a weekend recap let me know.  I am back to work on the house and playing catch on my other responsibilities so if you want the long version it may be a few days. 


If you want the short version, I went to Sebring and won the biggest race of my life, what a thrill  . 

  • Tom Hampton, Gary Norris, Ron Alan and 24 others like this

#103172 The Runoffs put into Perspective

Posted by davew on 10-02-2017 09:41 AM

We are all a bunch of middle aged (some are still punk kids) guys (with a few ladies) playing with toy cars. We take this way too seriously. This is supposed to be fun.


2 weeks before we left, my wife, Ann, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Fortunately for us, we found one of the best neuro-surgeons in the world is at University of Wisconsin, in Madison. Only an hour from home. While all of you were focused on the big race, I was focused on a life or death race. Yes, I watched the race on my phone from the surgery waiting room at the hospital.


Through out the first week of the Runoffs, I walked around with a blue event t-shirt and had all our friends at the track sign it for her "Get Well Card". And yes, it made her cry. It is now 3 days after surgery, she is following voice commands for simple tasks like wiggle your toes and has brief minutes of conscieceness. 


For this reason my comments on this forum will be rare and brief. Many will be from my phone and may sound rough. I just hate typing on my phone.


The shop is still open for business. I have a great crew including Ben, Bob and Tim. They took care of everything for the races.


I want to thank everyone for the well wishes and prayers. All are appreciated and needed. Especially Chris Haldeman, Tom Fowler, Kyle Webb and Jim Drago. We may be fierce competitors on the track, but they are all respected friends.



  • True North, Tom Hampton, Joe (dad) Jordan and 19 others like this

#82333 2015 SCCA Runoffs Presented by Garmin VIRB

Posted by Jim Drago on 09-27-2015 11:38 AM

I'm in the airport, getting ready to fly out. Many of you guys need to settle down on the cheating etc.. You have NO Clue! I had two engines and one car torn down to the ground this weekend and passed all. It would be easy for me to pile on those that were found non compliant.. First off I was in tech all weekend.. I know the infractions and the severity of them. These were non compliant but not " cheats" no one at this level wants this crap. If for a minute you think ANY other class would come through tech remotely as well as SM did/does with even 1/4 the level of scrutiny SM recieves you are truly clueless! Why don't we try concentrating on the positives for a change and promote our class instead of taking every opportunity to try and tear it down. I have nothing but respect for the drive that Goring and Cory put in. Unfortunately it looks like they were in violation of the rules. It sucks all the way around.. I don't build or sell them anything, but I can guarantee you this was not intemtional as both went with the same intentions I did, to win and to have their cars coming home in boxes. Anyone who feels this was intentional or that they hoped they could " pass it through or get away with it " is just a fool imo.
I'll have a longer post later, but the negative bs has got to stop .. If I start seeing cheaters etc posted I will delete it and most likely give you a minimum of a weeks vacation. Say what you will but be respectful of the class, the competitors and all posting here. All can be said and discussed with mutual respect.
  • Sam Barnett, JBlaisdell, davearm and 17 others like this

#68024 2015 SM RULES Package RACERS ONLY

Posted by Keith Novak on 10-24-2014 02:57 PM

I race, and will still race my '95 next year in SM.  Why?  Because it's a manly man's car.


It doesn't have the tweaking potential of a 1.6 with intake and AFM, and it doesn't have the power potential of a 99+ so you have to drive it like you stole it.  It's heavier than the 1.6 so cornering with them, you literally have to hold onto the back end by clenching the seat with your butt cheeks.  It also gets eaten alive at the top end by...well by anything else so it improves the defensive game and you get lots of chances to ask, "Are we really going to do this two wide?"


The heavier car with the earlier suspension also allows you to use up your tires faster than anyone else. While others are raving about the longevity of the SM7, I have the self satisfaction of knowing I finished the race with cords showing.


With the lower rev limiter than any other year, it greatly improves your shifting skills too.  When others describe how they're just hitting the rev limiter before a certain corner, I know I was up a gear 3 corners back and working the stick shift like a Tijuana hooker in every brake zone.  That also allows you to master your transmission replacement skills.  I have a whole farm of dead transmissions out back.  I can set them all up in formation and pretend I'm ruling over them like my personal army of minions. 


None of the parts are interchangeable with any other car so you have to learn self-reliance like a homesteader in the Yukon.  You can't just borrow a spare anything from everyone else in the paddock.  You either have to bring one, find one within a 200 mile radius, or whittle one out of the nearest tree.


I'll knock some dents out for next year, make it look a little prettier (or at least have body panels of the same color), and turn a bolt or two to make it faster.  Aside from that, you girls can drive your nimble 1.6's or your overdog 99+ cars.  I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that the only thing that makes the #88 fast is the driver.  :)


P.S.  What the heck does it take to get my checkered flag?  Do the admins even monitor their mail box.  I earned that dammit.

  • Ron Alan, Cnj, Neil O and 16 others like this

#66944 Everything Runoffs 2014

Posted by Charlie Hayes on 10-13-2014 11:24 AM

Well that was a long week.


I am one of the younger guys in this class who is funding this by the hard work I do. I work at TFB and I have helped build what we have today over the past 3.5 years with my boss and friend Tim Barber. We have always out sourced engines because of the expense it is to have a machine shop and run a machine shop. We never have asked for anything grey or over the edge. I personally am a guy who is always willing to show and or help fix anything that is non compliant because that is not how I roll or Tim for that matter.


I was so confident with what my engine builder sold me and now our customers, that I was bragging to be the first one with a head off to show everyone we have the correct stuff and its all good to go. This is going off of someones word and yes you should check everything going into your own car but if you are buying a $6500+ complete long block from oil pan to valve cover with a sticker on top why would you tear it apart to check blatant issues? Those would never be in there I said to myself and our customers because that is what I was told.


I did win the head off contest. I did it to the #88 car which was my 2013 SM and I did it to my personal #22 car. I had a lot of bad engine luck leading to the runoffs which had me with no engine in my car Thursday 10/2/14. The head sent to me to put on a block sent to me the day before was actually another engine builders piece with a part that we did not like taken out of it. The end of the plunge cut was blended and we do not like seeing that as it says the cut shall not be blended by machine, hand or chemicals. That was fixed and I was told no other issues with the head so run it. Once again going off trust I bolted it up and got the car on track at Sonoma Raceway Friday 10/3/14 when the car was supposed to be in Monterey waiting in line to get in the paddock. 


The #88 car had a fresh engine from top to bottom installed before the SCCA test day on 9/28/14 and we used that day to break it in and make sure we were good to go. Once again a confident 100% legal engine that I was told we installed. 


On Friday after the lapping session we begin the tech process with 9 cars, 6 from the top 6 and 3 outcasts. It took until Saturday to determine that all but the #88 failed the protest. I was in the room looking at both the #88 head and my #22 head and yes there was a difference and yes my grandma could notice it. This started the entire appeal process which was not set in stone until about 6pm on Sunday. 


We held off tearing the #88 for as long as we could because we did not want to ruin a car if things were overturned. It was about 12 noon on Sunday when John Bauer told us to do it now. We pulled the trans, diff, LF/RR shock, CC'ed, pulled the block to remove 2 pistons/rods, and crank. Which then by 2pm failed the go no go tool on the exhaust relief cut. At this point standing in that 15x8 1 door horrible lit box I felt like I was not living.


I have put so much time, effort, and money in to this and I failed by putting trust into someone else handling my stuff. When I set up my car, I don't say 49.9 is ok when I want 50.3, I don't finger tight bolts and say "oh that should be good." I don't bend spindles even if it kills tires because it says you CANT. I raced the Runoffs with 2.2* camber in the front. I did race the Runoffs with an unwillingly illegal cut head though.

  • tony senese, Mark, Joe (dad) Jordan and 16 others like this

#65886 #17 Signing Off

Posted by Joe (dad) Jordan on 09-24-2014 12:48 PM

Just to let everyone know, thanks to Brad Green for allowing us to take his number for the runoffs  Joey Jordan will be number 17 at the runoffs in honor of his friend Nova Brown, fellow Teen Mazda Challenge driver.  I asked James his Dad if it would be ok and he was enthusiastic about it. We will continue to honor him and his family ...

  • john mueller, Johnny D, chris haldeman and 15 others like this

#108481 Smack Thread, 2018 SCCA June Sprints @ Road America by the Chicago Region

Posted by davew on 06-18-2018 02:46 PM

Now that the Miata prep party has ended (OPM, X-Factor and Panic were all here this morning) I have a few minutes to think.


As much as I hate Road America, Ann loved it. Especially the June Sprints. She would get a photo pass and take 1000 pictures from all those special spots. She loved meeting all the people she only got to know over the phone. And everybody knew her by the sound of her voice. As I wandered the paddock handing out memorial stickers this weekend, everyone was happy to put the sticker on their car. Most did it as soon as I handed them the sticker. At Sunday podium celebration, all 3 drivers wore one of Ann's stickers. When Jim dedicated the win to her, I was glad to be wearing sun glasses. Thank you Jim. The hugs from the other drivers and crew guys made this the June Sprints I will remember for a long time.


Thank You to all who honored her memory.



  • Tom Hampton, William Keeling, Ron Alan and 14 others like this

#94137 Battery Tender MX-5 Cup - Is this something that I should consider?

Posted by Danny Steyn on 10-03-2016 05:37 PM



Several of you might already know that I ran my first MX-5 Global Cup race this past weekend at Road Atlanta. I was invited to do this by Mike Collins, owner of Meathead Racing and new President of SCCA Pro Racing. Since it was a conflict for him he generously offered me his seat, and I jumped at the opportunity.


Many of you have asked about my experience in the car and in the series and I thought it best if I write an in-depth post about all aspects, including the car, the series, the racing and more. You should be able to form your own opinions based on the multitude of emotions that I experienced over the weekend. The report starts off with a race report and continues with a synopsis of my feelings about the car and the series.


When I arrived I was fitted in the car, and Ess White of the Meathead Team made numerous adjustments to the seating position until I was totally comfortable. Of course, since the cars are the current 2016 model year, they are gorgeous inside and out, immaculate, and mine had less than 6 miles on the clock! It had been replaced after an accident at Laguna Seca and this was to be its maiden voyage in the series.







Unfortunately for our team, we struggled with a new setup change that had us all on the back-foot and the first four sessions had me extremely nervous, and almost afraid of the car. I didn’t want to hand Mike a wrecked brand new car, and the car was not doing what I wanted it to do. However I knew there was something not right with the setup as so many had told me how easy it was to drive.




Fortunately I have a lot of friends in the series, and several realized that I was struggling and offered their advice, but none more so than the current champion, Nate Sparks who pointed me in the right direction with setup and data. Sparky, thank you, and congrats on a stunning season. You will make an awesome representative for us all and good luck in the Mazda Road to 24!



The qualifying session was the first time that I finally had a car that I could control, and that wasn’t scaring me,  but I still had no idea about its limits, or how it should handle, so I intentionally ran on my own at the back to come to grips with the handling and performance of the car which is very different to a Spec Miata.


At Road Atlanta, the back straight in a draft is worth 0.7 seconds in a Spec Miata, but in the MX-5 Global Cup Car it is worth at least a second, such is the magnitude of the hole that the open-top roadster punches in the air (more about this later). Since I ran on my own I was way off the pace and qualified back in 19th place, pretty much in the kill zone! But had I run in a draft my qualifying time gave me hope that I had the pace to run with the front runners.






Starting from 19th I knew that if I was patient, the expected attrition in the 45-minute race would move me up a few spots and I purposefully held back, avoiding the carnage ahead of me and slowly moved up to 15th position, which fortunately is the last money paying spot. At one point I had the fastest lap time, and at the end I was one of the 6th fastest cars on the course. I experimented with easing off the pace, and dropping back and seeing if I could come back up to the leaders in my pack and it was relatively easy.


While my lap times sound impressive on my first outing, do remember that the cars in the middle of the field sometimes get to run some really fast times for one or two laps, due to the draft of the cars in the lead group ahead of them. For this reason, the series had to adopt an unusual qualifying strategy. In qualifying your fastest lap sets the grid for Race 1, and your 2nd fastest lap sets the grid for Race 2. They do not use your race lap times, as due to the huge draft, in some cases this might mean a completely inverted grid whereby the 15th place car in Race 1 starts on pole due to the huge draft he got in Race 1.



For Race 2, I think I started in 17th or 18th position, not sure exactly. By now the championship had been decided and I knew that the gloves would come off in this last race, so I was even more conservative than in Race 1, and once again it paid off as I moved up to finish 10th, just missing the hard-charger $1,000 check by one spot. Once again I was definitely on pace with the lead cars, but I didn’t make any dive bomb attempts, kept it clean and brought home a spotless race car. Once again my lap times were competitive with the leaders.


Overall I was very happy with my performance. I know that had I been comfortable in the car on test day I could have qualified near the front and would have driven a completely different race had I started nearer the front. My 15th place in Race 1 and 10th place in Race 2 paid a total of $2100 in contingency payments which I paid back to Mike Collins and the team in appreciation on their generosity.




The car is really well constructed and beautifully finished off, and everything just works. The engine is peppy, has plenty of torque, and 6-speed gearbox is a pleasure to shift.


However, when it comes to handling, this car is very different to the Spec Miata that we have all become accustomed to. In Spec Miata, we come to a corner, stand on the brakes, generally threshold brake, turn in and typically commit to wide open throttle well before the apex. Well if you have driven the iRacing Global MX-5 Cup Car, you will know that this DOES NOT WORK with the MX-5 Cup Car. You can brake relatively hard, but you have to come off the brake gently, and roll a LOT of mid-corner speed though the apex, and then feed in the throttle gently, or the car will drive off the track with front-end push.


I had heard about this nuance from many drivers before the weekend, and I ignored their advice to my own detriment, so eventually I had to give in and adapt, and once I adapted my driving style, the lap times started to fall. Yes, the car is a little bit twitchy compared to a Spec Miata, and it's suspension is a little softer, but you have a lot more adjustment available with shock compression and rebound that can handle tracks as bumpy as Sebring and as smooth as COTA.


The BF Goodrich tires are very good, and do not fall off much, if at all, over a 45 minute race. The electric steering is very sensitive and the car will turn in much more sharply than a Spec Miata so you have to slow your hands down significantly. Also since the tires are really grippy, and the suspension soft, there is a distinct chance that if you get into a slide, the suspension will bind up and suddenly release, spitting you off the track. Once again you have to adjust your driving style to car you are driving.


Bye the way, the math engine of the iRacing car, from vehicle dynamics to the shock performance is pretty much identical to the actual car so there is a lot to be gained from spending time on the simulator. 


All in all the car is fun to drive, a little faster than a Spec Miata, and the racing is closer than Spec Miata due to the huge parachute that the cars pull behind them as an open top roadster.




It all depends on how you want to do it. Do you want to buy your own car and do your own trackside support? Do you want to own your own car and have someone else support it? Or are you like me and purely want do an arrive-and-drive, have someone else own and prepare and deliver a race-ready car to the track for you to have fun in?


If we look at the 3rd option, a full arrive and drive where the team preps the car, transports it to the event, registers to race including test day, provides the tires, gas and trackside support, you are looking at anything between $15k to $20k for the 3 day weekend including promoter test day. If you were to commit to an entire season this number will be very negotiable.


So what do you get for this seemingly large cost? Depending on who you race with and what you negotiate, you will get the use of a car, a set of scrubbed tires, two sets of stickers, an entry, and a promoter test day. You will be responsible for crash damage but you may be able to secure crash damage insurance if you are running the complete season. This typically runs $3k per weekend with a $5k deductible and a replacement up to $50k.


You get 3 x 25 minute sessions on the test day, a 30 minute practice session and a 30 minute qualifying session which is split into 2 x 15 minute qualifying sessions. Your lap times from the practices session determine if you are in the first run group or the 2nd run group, so it is important to get up to speed before the practice session so that you have some drafting partners.


Then on race day you get 2 x 45 minute races. So you end up with close to 3-1/2 hours of track time if there are no stoppages. In terms of dollars per smile it is quite a high price to pay, but when you factor in the exposure to the pro teams, this is about the cheapest form of pro racing you can do, other than B-Spec, but in my opinion, no-one is looking to B-Spec drivers to fill the seats in their ST and GS cars.




This question has a simple answer. If you have any ambition of running in a pro-series, or moreover being picked up to run as a paid driver in a pro-series, then you need the world to know who you are. In Spec Miata you might be the king, but to all intents and purposes, you are invisible to the world.


To give you an idea of how much attention this series is getting, not only did we have the entire Petite Lemans track-side crowd to watch us, but Mazda's Live Streaming channel has had more than 450,000 views giving you some idea of how many people follow this racing. Not only that but you are attending pro race-weekends so you are on the track on the same day as many other IMSA classes, and guess what, most of the drivers and crew wander down to the exciting corners to watch the extremely exciting racing that happens in this competitive series.




Mazda’s commitment to the series is impressive:- from the Mazda village to the autograph signing event, to the parts and spares trailer that brings absolutely everything you will ever need, to the series provided driver-coach, Kenton Koch (whom I used at every opportunity I could), to the engineers,  technicians and team drivers that were immediately under our tent when I asked for help with setup.


The cars are absolutely identical in power. New cars take about 500 miles to get to full power so in one weekend you will pretty much have what everyone else has. Mazda and SCCA Pro are very serious about rules enforcement. You cannot add nor deduct anything, otherwise you will get penalized and fined and the fines are substantial. Judging from the cars that I was around the power variance is significantly tighter than in Spec Miata, so you end up free from the drama that surrounds the never ending power struggle to find that one unicorn engine.


All cars run the AIM data system and every driver has to hand in video from each session within 30 minutes of the session end or be fined. The officials come to your cars and download data if they suspect the car is an outlier, and every now and then they take cars at random back to Long Road Racing for complete compliance checking. This is tech at another level.


The teams that compete in the series are professional teams, all running multiple cars sharing data, often with data specialists in house helping their drivers. Once I finally got comfortable in the car, series driver-coach Kenton Koch was instrumental in helping me find the final 10ths that I was leaving on the table.




The parachute that is dragged behind this open top car is just staggering. You can come out of Turn 7 at Road Atlanta more than 15 cars behind the car in front, and despite two completely identical cars, you will be sucked up to the bumper of the car ahead and can even consider making a hail-Mary dive bomb attempt into T10A.




This is the double edged sword that Mazda and the series is wrestling with. This draft brings the entire pack back together again, and ensures that there is very tight racing throughout the pack.  There were many occasions when it was four wide into T10A during both races, and the ABS braking system makes drivers feel more secure going for the late dive bomb attempt than if they had to modulate the pedal themselves. This makes tremendously exciting racing for spectators and ensures that the series is seen by a huge worldwide audience.


So the massive draft makes for exciting racing, but it also ensures that no-one can break away and that a less skilled driver is able to pull back into contention lap after lap. Ultimately this gives false confidence and you can see it building where you know that there are going to be some low percentage passing attempts. My gut feel is that carnage will continue to be part of the series, as it is doubtful that Mazda is going to put a hardtop on their attractive roadster and dilute the roadster image




If you are a young driver with serious skills, a Justin Hille, Michael Carter or Ralle Rookey, and have the funding needed to race the series, I would advise you to sign up immediately as you will be racing amongst some of the best wheelmen in the country, in identical cars, in front of a huge audience that will be able to recognize your talents. And you might be able to secure a pro drive way earlier than you will by staying in Club Racing.




If you like the attention and “Big Show” aspect of pro-racing, then you will love the series. It is pretty cool to be signing autographs on posters and hero-cards for young fans who just love what we do. The show aspect is on a much higher level than even the biggest event in Club Racing, and this will appeal to many drivers who will enjoy the attention, publicity and professional event coverage.




However, if you are timid or do not like wheel to wheel racing with rubbing, or if you hate the idea of paying for crash damage, then this is not the series for you. There has been a lot of carnage and as much as I hate to say it, this will probably continue for some time to come, until the draft effect can be minimized.


The Pro Series aspect does have some tremendous advantages. Once you have your hard card you never register at the track, it is all done online. The compliance team comes to your garage to check on your gear and car. The event staff are all professionals and want to make sure you are having a good time racing in the series.




I definitely want to do this again. Now that I know how the car should handle and perform, I want to prove to myself that I can qualify well and run at the front. I am looking forward to a new challenge.




A huge thanks to all those that made this weekend so enjoyable. I especially have to thank Mike Collins for his generosity, and Karen Dildei of Meathead Racing for making all the arrangements work so seamlessly, and for taking the really great images that are featured in this post. Thanks to the entire Meathead team including team driver Nick Bruni for his insight, crew chief Jonathon Bergeron, and crew members Ian Brooks, Miller Roberts, Adam Crandall, Ess White, and Tim Meek.


Thanks to the entire Mazda team from John Doonan, Dean Case and to Glen Long and the entire Mazda tech support team that helped me sort out my car. Thanks to driver and series-coach Kenton Koch, as well as Mazda team drivers Tom Long and Andrew Carbonell for their assistance and advice. And of course to all the drivers in the series that welcomed me and made me feel right at home. Hope to see you all soon!



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#51578 .Hitler hears about the enforcement of the neat and clean rule- SCCA MARRS se...

Posted by Bench Racer on 09-07-2013 04:53 AM

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#110284 NASA Championships - CoTA Smack Thread

Posted by Cnj on 10-08-2018 05:41 PM

What an interesting week for SM racing in NASA. In the biggest (prize money) SM race in history, $85,000 is reallocated by NASA via tech shed DQ.

Per NASA published statements, the DQ’s are based on the argument that the CV units exceeded OEM and remanufactured specifications. No such specifications are listed, nor is the source of such specifications referenced. Presumably NASA technical staff used their technical judgement to make their determination.


- Jim (and hence his driver Todd) admits to modifying the CV’s. Todd loses $10,000 (?) and Jim and team state they will cease racing NASA because he feels the process was flawed.
- Chris, who is both builder and driver, claims he made no modifications at all and used reman parts. Chris loses $75,000 (?) and remains mum on his plans for future racing with NASA. But he expresses his, ahh..., considerable frustration with the process. (I can guess his future NASA racing plans....)
- After many pages of technical discussion, no evidence is available to show that the real or claimed modifications actually gave Chris and Todd (and others) any more advantage in the race than Chris eating burritos that morning and Todd polishing his helmet before the race.
- SCCA figures out that this is a cluster and quickly makes it a non issue for Sonoma. The group that normally looks slow and ponderous suddenly reflects agility.

Interesting week.

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#109589 Spirit of Mazda

Posted by Johnny D on 08-26-2018 12:50 PM




Late “Track Mom” and wife of Dave Wheeler remembered for taking care of racers

Dave Wheeler says he knew that Ann O’Malley was a keeper – and must have liked him – when she came back to Blackhawk Farms for a second day after her first visit to a racetrack ever. Her lack of exposure to motorsports made her eagerness to jump in and take care of racers all the more remarkable. It is why O’Malley, who passed away from a brain tumor earlier this year, is being honored with a posthumous Spirit of Mazda award.

“Everybody called her the track mom, because she took care of everybody,” says Wheeler, who owns Advanced Autosports, a prep shop specializing in Spec Miata in Beloit, Wis. “We would have 12 or 15 cars at the racetrack and she made sure everybody had water and Gatorade and made lunch. She went and woke people from their motorhome when they were taking naps and overslept.”

Wheeler and O’Malley met on a dating website 11 years ago. Their first date was on a Tuesday before the June Sprints and Wheeler attempted to explain where he was going that weekend, but it was all new to her. On the way back from Road America, he called O’Malley and they talked for two hours. Her willingness to not only accompany Wheeler to Blackhawk Farms, but also return for another day, was a pretty good sign. And being new to the motorsports game herself, she took a special interest in others learning the ropes.

“She really liked dealing with the newbies, the people that were just kind of confused,” Wheeler says. “She had the patience that I don’t have to deal with them and made sure they knew where to go and when to go there. And she explained to people that when they went through registration for a test day, they still needed to go through for the race day. She was good at that kind of stuff for someone who has absolutely zero background in racing until she met me.”

Like most people who spend years around the sport, it wasn’t so much the cars or the competition that O’Malley loved, it was the racers, the crews and their families.

“I’ve said for years that you go to the racetrack the first few times for the cars, then you keep going back for 30 years for the people. She just really enjoyed the people we race with, both the direct customers and the indirect customers that were buying parts form us – but also everybody else. She was real good with the humanity side of it,” Wheeler notes.

Her actions align perfectly with tomoiku, learning and teaching each other for mutual growth and success. For that, and for taking care of people plus so much more, Ann O’Malley is the Spirit of Mazda award winner for July.

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#109365 Mazda Spec Miata Penske Shocks Upgrade on Way to NASA & SCCA

Posted by Todd Lamb on 08-14-2018 03:05 PM

Now that the news is released, I can give the SMAC insight on the Penske's.


I was personally very reluctant to make a shock supply change, up until 2017 Runoffs when we started running into serious compliance checking issues. Further dyno info confirmed that Bilstein was not doing a very good job of holding to any meaningful tolerances (understandably, it is a mass production street shock). That, coupled with the supply issue, had the SMAC, Mazda and everyone else wondering if there was a better solution. Unfortunately, there was not a readily available solution that would mitigate the supply issue, so we weren't able to fix that. Instead, behind the scenes several of us were investigating options for a different shock.


We all owe a HUGE thank you to Mazda for organizing, coordinating, and conducting the shock test at CMP. There was a lot of time and BIG money spent on the test, and a lot of people involved from teams, tire manufacturers, shock companies, drivers/crew, and sanctioning bodies. 


In case you haven't seen it, there's a long writeup on the entire testing and selection criteria available here: http://www.mazdamoto...ks-Evolving.pdf


The biggest issue for all of us was the cost of the Penske's relative to the current Bilstein. However, the VALUE was quite clearly there, and the price became less and less of a factor when you realize just how much more shock you're getting for your money.


Other factors we considered at great length:

-having a tamper proof (tech-able) shock

-serviceability by Penske only, and at a reasonable price


-ability to utilize as many of the existing SM parts as possible

-performance (curbing on/off, dropping wheels off track, rough pavement, bumps, tire degradation, long runs, rain, driver feel)

-reliability, which couples with getting cars off bump stops (the new bump stop kit does not lend itself to running low)

-a good partner company for long-term relations

-good across NA/NB1/NB2 platforms


All of these factors quickly led us to the conclusion that the Penske was the correct choice for the class.


I personally drove the Penske's and the improvement in handling is immediately noticeable, especially over curbing and in transitions. Also quite noticeable as weight transfers during braking and trailbraking. I believe these shocks will be much easier on the cars, leading to longer component life and less failures. 


This is a win for the entire class, across SCCA, NASA, and SVRA.


Thanks to everyone that contributed to this effort. This was done in perhaps record time for such a large change.

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#103565 The Runoffs put into Perspective

Posted by chris haldeman on 10-08-2017 10:35 AM

Dave sent me an update yesterday. Ann is improving!!! Here is a cut and paste from Dave

Saturday update. Very positive. Eating soft real food. Can keep a conversation. Eyes still bad but getting better. Hope to move closer to home next week for rehab
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#85984 Wishing all the best in 2016

Posted by Jim Drago on 12-31-2015 09:15 PM

Wishing a great 2016! It seems all I have spoken to are busy with new builds and many new individuals are building their own cars etc. 2016 is looking good in terms of Sm. 

Lets make 2016 the best year yet!


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#116387 Peston Pardus finishes top 10 in Xfiniti at Indy

Posted by Jim Drago on 07-04-2020 03:56 PM


Jim Drago
30 mins · 

Preston Pardus once again leading the field at Indy. This time in Xfiniti. Tremendous race, Preston managed a top ten finish on old tires ( 3 seconds slower than stickers) against the best in Xfiniti on stickers with multi million dollar budgets! Could not be prouder ! What a great race Preston! Congratulations to Preston, Dan ,Tony, Purkey and the rest of the team!

Additional Visual Settings
Click to enlarge

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#103193 2017 Runoffs SMACK talk thread

Posted by Preston Pardus on 10-02-2017 10:39 AM

First off, I am overwhelmed by all the congratulations and support I have received the past few days. It means a great deal to my family and I. I have been waiting to make a post because I thought I would be able to say more however that is not the case, I'm at a loss for words. As stated in my Facebook post, to win the Runoffs would NOT have been possible without the help everyone has given me the past few years. This feat would be impossible for me to reach if it wasn't for the amazing racing community we are apart of.

As many of you know, I was not in my car for the event as Jim stated previously. The boys at East Street Racing prepared an outstanding car for me to drive all week; Jim, York, Mike, Kyle, and Robert deserve all the credit for that. Whether it was getting on the scales after each session or the amazing teamwork they provided, I am lucky I was the nut behind the wheel. It was my first time being close to the ESR group and they made me feel right at home within minutes.


The SCCA workers, corner workers, and track staff were flawless all week. There were multiple instances where the race would of went under double yellow in multiple sessions but the staff executed perfectly. Everyone made this an unprecedented world-class event for grassroots motorsports. A major shoutout to Mazda and Hoosier Racing Tire for all they do to provide us drivers with an incredible platform to race.

The race was nervous racking to say the least with many lead changes happening through the race.. I could type for days but I'll make it easy by just posting the video.. It was awesome to race door to door with everyone. Congrats to Selin and Chris as well.

I couldn't do it without the great partners at 5x Racing, Best price Trailers, Daytona 1, MOMO, Special Forces Automotive.

I want to type more but I just can not find the words right now..



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#102705 SM motorsports art

Posted by LarryKing on 09-19-2017 06:19 PM

And now for something completely different, my latest painting, "Deb entering Carousel, Nelson Ledges", acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24", ©D. Mathias, 2017



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#109846 NASA Championships - CoTA Smack Thread

Posted by Danny Steyn on 09-17-2018 11:33 AM

WOW – what a weekend! Thank you NASA - Thank you TOYO


Rain was forecast at 70-90% for all the days, and yet the infamous COTA Micro-climate showed its miraculous hand each day. And we had just a few showers for the Q3 session that set the final grid.


For Q3, as the rain came down on the false grid, I was one of those that rushed back to change to RA-1’s. Fowler was on the radio with me and this is what I heard each lap

  • “you are on pole 7/10ths up”
  • “You are 5/10ths up”
  • “You are 4/10ths up”
  • “You are 9th”

OH SH!T I had to dig really deep on those rain tires and fortunately managed to pull out a decent lap that put me up to 4th place. The track was just getting faster and faster for guys on RR’s and had the last lap not been rained out, I am sure all of us on rains would have been even further back


When one of the guys was moved off ahead of me I ended up starting in 3rd spot behind Matthew Dirks who put his NA1.6 on the pole.


But I knew he would be a sitting duck on the start at that speed and with that hill ahead and I dived out immediately and past him, knocking his mirror back in the pass (neither of us was aware of it until we saw the video)


As you see I got to the early lead, but when Todd got ahead of me, it undermined our opportunity to break away as I as losing so much time in the braking zones, and that allowed Chris and Blake to catch up.


When Haldeman got past, he and Todd had a great run ahead of me, and I was hanging on by the skin on my teeth, helped by the battle up front and also by Henderson behind me, who was hanging on as well. I was making it up in the brakes, but not really able to challenge for the lead.


What Chris did this weekend was nothing short of legendary. Had at least 20 plus cars to take care of, was sick as a dog, and then qualified way back in the kill zone, and still made it to the front to win. And that big check could not have gone to a more deserving winner.


Lots of fast guys did not qualify well and that definitely affected their chances.


Proud to have been part of this race and to get my 3rd NASA Champs podium. One day, hopefully before my 90th birthday, I want to win one of these elusive damn things.

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