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The future of Spec Miata - Off-Season Discussion

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#21
Tom Sager

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The sealed motor idea is interesting but the transition would be difficult. If cost reduction is the driving force, then we'd have to move the effective date out into the future 2-3 years so that current drivers can get the remaining useful life out of their current investment. That and we'd have to study the idea and determine what the true cost would be and does it really save money? My guess is a sealed motor program would be cheaper for some and more expensive for others. The SRF crowd would probably have a lot to say about the pluses and minuses. Tighter rules might mean more expensive cheats. I've heard some SRF stories that would cast doubt on us wanting a similar program. Cheaper motors might not be cheaper in the long run if they don't last. I got 4 seasons on a Sunbelt bottom end and just one head refresh over the same period. Paid a lot but overall I think the value (and the power) was very good.
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#22
Jim Drago

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For me as I spend more on the car, specifically the engine, the less I want to use it at a regional event. In effect it has made me an elitist to a degree that can't be bothered with regional events. I feel like I lost that grassroots connection to racing that I once had.

.

Bruce
I quoted this as I think this is important and more true than many probably imagine. I have the same sentiment. I race regionals when they are combined, even go to competitive regonals like Barber this year. But when thinking about enduros, I often think about doing the 13 hr or the ARRC 3 hour and often find myself saying, nah, I am not using my car for that. I would have NEVER had that opinion in 2005-2006, I think that is worth pointing out. Whether it is the money or using common sense I really don't know. But i know it wouldn't have mattered then.

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#23
ner88

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Several year ago a source at Enterprise said they could seal motors and get them all within 2-3 HP.
I would gladly spend 4-5K for a sealed motor, beats $7-10K for a pro-customer motor.

If the SGs or Dragos want to buy 10 or 100 motors to find the best one, go for it, a good driver can beat 3 hp.

I'd also be happy to buy their rejects at a reduced price! :spin:

#24
dmathias

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The other side of Bruce A's coin is I no longer race nationals. I don't have the money, time or talent to race on that level, and frankly people seem to smile more at regionals.

NASA's model works better at this aspect. There is no national/regional separation.
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#25
James York

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As this thread evolves we will see it is really easy to voice our concerns, but not that easy to suggest fixes. So I suggest that we all look at these concerns, and convert them to action points along with our suggestions on how to do it.

for instance

  • Stop changing the spec - try and get to a sensible spec quickly and hold it for at least a few years - regular spec rule changes are not good for the class
  • Close the gap between NASA and SCCA - find a middle ground on weight and restrictor size
  • Close the parity issue between 1.6 and 99 - this is really hard as it is SO TRACK DEPENDENT
  • Increase tech or the rampant cheating will escalate - I vote for returning the $10 tech compliance fee to tech NOT ONLY THE FRONT, but also RANDOM MID PACK racers


This is exactly spot on. I am in alignment.

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#26
5X Racing

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I hate to get involved in this, but Danny made me... None of my opinions are negative, just want to participate for the constructive aspect of the conversation.

I tend to write too much, so I'll add things in moderation. One of the things I believe we should ask ourselves is this:

Is the standard, acceptable price for a front running (national race winning) Spec Miata now $30,000+?

I've seen several cars for sale in the classifieds that are in this vicinity, and if this is true for a car with all of the fixin's, and I've heard it is, then SM5 is a great option for those looking for pure skills based competition who can afford a racecar with that kind price tag on it. You want to scare off somebody (the future racers, which are young people coming from auto-cross and track days) that's interested in starting in Spec Miata? Tell them it's gonna cost them $30k to build a car capable of winning a national race. I know when I started, I would have ran the other way if told this and stuck to track days with my Mustang street car. People join this class with hopes of success based on their driving skills, which is 90% of the factor, but that other 10% seems to take a hell of a lot of money. SM5 sounds great, but I know I can't afford it! The majority of SM racers or future SM racers can probably say the same. SM was the exception to the saying: "racing is a rich mans sport" when it began, kind of seems like it's falling into that category now though. Granted this is the case if you want to win in SM, which I imagine is the reason why most of us race. It is still entirely possible to do SM on the cheap, just gotta keep in mind that it is going to be "for fun" instead of "to win", and that's OK with a lot of racers out there keeping the class popular (thankfully!).

If we want SM to continue to prosper and sustain a tough economy, we have to remember what made it popular to begin with. I've only been racing it for 5 years, but when I started it was still about affordable racing that somebody can be successful in if they had some chops behind the wheel.

So, here's a challenge for all of the big shots, casual readers, and especially the "first time posters" out there, list the reasons why YOU got involved in SM?

John Adamczyk
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#27
James York

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As for my two cents, I always have at least two cents. I selfishly would like to see the SCCA runoffs come back to Mid Ohio. the track is slower, lest danger and a challenge. If that wish cannot come true, I think they should move the runoffs to a new venue every other year at least. Having the event at any one track for two long always gives a home advantage. Plus Road am is a fast and sometimes dangerous track.


I would be willing to wager you'll be packing your bags and heading to Texas after the contract at Road American ends if you want to participate in the Runoffs.

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#28
JBlaisdell

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Here is my post, from Bruce's FB discussion:
1) Someone will always be better...perfect, that is "WHAT" SM is supposed to be ALL about...driver vs. driver...want to get better? than drive more and talk less.
2) Someone will always have better equipment...again perfect, those that are better prepared and give their car some TLC between races deserve the rewards that will earn them a couple of places...kinda like Boy Scouts "Be prepared"
3) Someone will always be willing to spend more...NOT PERFECT, this is the real problem...It has become a game of the "have's vs the have not's"...Danny S. warned all, about this and unfortunately his predictions are starting to ring true...This is what will cause the class to die off...$10K disposible engines, $2K worth of REM polishing, $750 Re-mapped ECU's etc etc etc.
I'm not stupid, I know that people will always cheat, regardless of whatever rule set exsists...go ahead and let them!!!
A simple HP cap and dyno cert program is all that is needed to stop the $$$ train from leaving the station with only a small handful of "have's" on board...the majority of this class is "have not's and have's" who are not having a great time spending their way to the front.
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#29
Danny Steyn

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John

thanks for jumping in. And to anyone lurking who has an opinion, lets hear it. I would love this thread to expose ALL of our concerns. Not just those of a select few. For the sake of the future of our class, I beleive that we will ALL benefit from hearing the myriad of concerns.

Guys like Drago and the others on the SMAC and CRB can only address the concerns that we voice. Some of these are going to be difficult to voice, but they need to be heard.

Danny
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#30
Jim Drago

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  • Stop changing the spec - try and get to a sensible spec quickly and hold it for at least a few years - regular spec rule changes are not good for the class


I agree, as I said above, I think 2012-2015 we will be on the same weights and plates, NASA and SCCA

  • Close the gap between NASA and SCCA - find a middle ground on weight and restrictor size

For all intents and purposes, this is done as well from 2012-2015

  • Close the parity issue between 1.6 and 99 - this is really hard as it is SO TRACK DEPENDENT

This will never be perfect, but I think the next and hopefully last adjustment will be as close as we can come with all things considered. If you are not happy with the rules or your current car within these rules, you should build a different one or realize the rules wont be changing

  • Increase tech or the rampant cheating will escalate - I vote for returning the $10 tech compliance fee to tech NOT ONLY THE FRONT, but also RANDOM MID PACK racers



We are trying to put together another compliance program, I am of the same opinion. Lots post here about the 30,000 cars and the cheating at the front, in my experience 90% of the cheating is done in the mid pack. The guys at the front expect technical inspections, so it keeps most in line. Most in the middle assume the guys at the front are cheating so they must as well to keep up.

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#31
Colin MacLean

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When I look back at SM over the years I ask what was it that created the 60+ fields every race weekend at every track (in my area). To me that's the only question we really need to ask.

Was there sealed motors? No.
Were their more rules? No.
More enforcement? No.
Better specifications (motor etc.) No.
Was SM a National class? No.
Did SM have a spec tire? No.

So what was it that brought everyone out? Well I can only speak for me and those guys around me that started when I did. It was the "race in a competitive environment with large fields for cheap with other like-minded guys who wanted the same thing."

That's no longer SM and that's why it's losing popularity, why guys are quitting and why new guys no longer want to be part of it.

My opinion is that your typical "weekend warrior" guy like me wants to run with like-minded folks. He doesn't want to show up at the track and race against guys in $40,000 professionally built cars or fleets of renters who float in, cause havoc, then float out 2 races later. They want to have friendly racing against a great bunch of guys, wrench on the cars together when they break and then have a beer afterwards.

That's EXACTLY how SM used to be. Can it be that again? Do we want it to be? Has that time come and gone and will never be that way again? I don't know. But what I do know is lots of the things that we're talking about here (enforcement, parity etc.) have precisely nothing to do with what made SM incredibly popular to begin with. Those items are only important to the small percentage of guys who race National and run high-stakes. I raced against plenty guys who were obviously running all kinds of weird and wacky parts I didn't care, we were out to have fun, not spend our weekends disassembling our damn cars so they could get DQ'd for the wrong shape heater box.

If I was the guy sitting on the iron throne with a giant staff in my hand I would point it at the SM rules and say "SM is 99+ only, Regional CM (club miata) is 90-97" The two types of cars go their own way. Stupid idea? Maybe but it would keep the high rollers out of the club ranks and keep the club guys from trying to impose their ideas on the guys who are laying it all down on National SM. They are two entirely different types of people in this class now and two very different types of car.
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#32
Danny Steyn

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Here is my post, from Bruce's FB discussion:
1) Someone will always be better...perfect, that is "WHAT" SM is supposed to be ALL about...driver vs. driver...want to get better? than drive more and talk less.
2) Someone will always have better equipment...again perfect, those that are better prepared and give their car some TLC between races deserve the rewards that will earn them a couple of places...kinda like Boy Scouts "Be prepared"
3) Someone will always be willing to spend more...NOT PERFECT, this is the real problem...It has become a game of the "have's vs the have not's"...Danny S. warned all, about this and unfortunately his predictions are starting to ring true...This is what will cause the class to die off...$10K disposible engines, $2K worth of REM polishing, $750 Re-mapped ECU's etc etc etc.
I'm not stupid, I know that people will always cheat, regardless of whatever rule set exsists...go ahead and let them!!!
A simple HP cap and dyno cert program is all that is needed to stop the $$$ train from leaving the station with only a small handful of "have's" on board...the majority of this class is "have not's and have's" who are not having a great time spending their way to the front.



Jim - I agree with most you have said. Two things I want to comment on
  • I suspect that ALL classes, at their origin, are perfect. Everyone is new, the cars are new, the knowledgbase is shallow and everyone is full of hope, naivete and enthusiasm. As the class matures, the people start to lean, find the holes in the spec, as well as the gray areas. People exploit the opportunities as they always will and the performance level increases, along with the cost of keeping up. Cannot see that changing in any class.
  • I am just not sure that a HP cap is something that is really doable. I understand the theory. I know my engine builder Mike Rossini is a big proponent of this and John A believes in this, but I can imagine many ways to game the system, so I am not sure it will work - but I am open to the idea

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#33
Alberto

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Alberto / Mike

on the Facebook thread, an insightful comment was made that echoes my experience in other sports - basically that the "tighter the box", (in other words, the more restricitve the specification, or sealed engines for that matter) the more expensive it becomes to get the gains. Happens in all forms of racing now. e.g. Buying lots of sealed engines to find the better sealed engine, etc.

A "tighter box" or sealed engine spec, seems to offer cheaper racing, but I somehow doubt it - As Drago said

... Someone will always be bettter, someone will always have better equipment and someone will always be willing to spend more.. Three constants!



And let me add the 4th constant - there will always be someone willing to circumbent the spec - never going to change


I agree and that echoes my experiences racing other spec series. The difference is in the extent of the "gains" in engines. You aren't going to get a 120 or 130 HP sealed engine when San Francisco region adjusts and seals out of the box and regular street motors at ~113HP for a flat ~$300 fee. I would think that it really should NOT be that hard to implement something similar elsewhere...

Really it would only be more expensive for the guys looking to spend money regardless. They can go and buy 5 motors that chances are will be within a few HP of each other. The rest of the field would pay the fee to get sealed or buy one new sealed motor when their current sealed motor dies and be happy to compete with our buds in our region.
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#34
Alberto

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There are no significant rules changes coming for 2012 other than possibly allowing .25 mm overbore.

Jim



.25mm overbore?

The long ass thread we had discussed a .10 overbore. Scope creep. Sounds like it would be great for the shops and engine builders but terrible for the rest of us regional competitors.

Is SM a class for builders and national racers or for people that want close, SPEC racing with similar cars?
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#35
Jim Drago

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Here is my post, from Bruce's FB discussion:
1) Someone will always be better...perfect, that is "WHAT" SM is supposed to be ALL about...driver vs. driver...want to get better? than drive more and talk less.


While this may be "your opinion" of what the class should be,it may even be the right opinion, but the expectations and what they want from SM is NOT the same for everyone.

2) Someone will always have better equipment...again perfect, those that are better prepared and give their car some TLC between races deserve the rewards that will earn them a couple of places...kinda like Boy Scouts "Be prepared"


Agree


3) Someone will always be willing to spend more...NOT PERFECT, this is the real problem...It has become a game of the "have's vs the have not's"...Danny S. warned all, about this and unfortunately his predictions are starting to ring true...This is what will cause the class to die off...$10K disposible engines, $2K worth of REM polishing, $750 Re-mapped ECU's etc etc etc.
I'm not stupid, I know that people will always cheat, regardless of whatever rule set exsists...go ahead and let them!!!
A simple HP cap and dyno cert program is all that is needed to stop the $$$ train from leaving the station with only a small handful of "have's" on board...the majority of this class is "have not's and have's" who are not having a great time spending their way to the front.



There is a lot here...
First, People can and will spend whatever they like, while you may not agree, we can't legislate that.

I have never seen or even heard of a $10,000 engine, let alone being disposable? We also can't legislate how much people spend on illegal parts? I think you have to lump that in with cheating, not spending. If someone wants to spend money to build a very good legal car, they are certainly entitled to do so.


As far as a simple HP cap, if your intent is to keep cheaters out of the class ( which I feel is far less of a problem than most do) than this is a colossal waste of time and money. If someone's intent is to beat the system and has a minimal knowledge of these cars, they will beat the system. For everything that a dyno operator could think to check before running a car, someone could come up with at least two more ways of being compliant when dynoed. It happens now in HP capped classes. Sealed classes, OK, look at SRF dyno numbers, are they within 2-3? Look at negative numbers, even more interesting.

My opinion, while may not be popular with some, is this. You give the top 10-15% guys in the country whatever ruleset you want, ANY rules set, sealed motors, dyno caps, whatever.. The same guys are still in the top 10-15% I don't care what you spend on your car, how good your car is, at some point, you have to shut the door, shut the mouth, strap in and drive the #$$&^* car.

Jim

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#36
Jim Drago

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.25mm overbore?

The long ass thread we had discussed a .10 overbore. Scope creep. Sounds like it would be great for the shops and engine builders but terrible for the rest of us regional competitors.

Is SM a class for builders and national racers or for people that want close, SPEC racing with similar cars?



Alberto
How much HP did that sealed car in SF region have that everyone complained about? I think the thread was 6-7 pages long?


Also, take a look here on .25mm
http://www.worldwide...asurements.html
Jim

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#37
Glenn

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So, here's a challenge for all of the big shots, casual readers, and especially the "first time posters" out there, list the reasons why YOU got involved in SM?



1. STUPID Crashes! Un-necessary, destruction of cars, why with the talent in this class can we not seem to be able to race side by side for more than 1 corner without beating the fenders and doors off of the "other guy" Maybe the talent pool isnt as deep as I thought!

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#38
FTodaro

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My opinion is that your typical "weekend warrior" guy like me wants to run with like-minded folks. He doesn't want to show up at the track and race against guys in $40,000 professionally built cars or fleets of renters who float in, cause havoc, then float out 2 races later. They want to have friendly racing against a great bunch of guys, wrench on the cars together when they break and then have a beer afterwards.

That's EXACTLY how SM used to be.

I think you are describing the current state of regional racing. Its hard to be all things to all people. So in that regard i think the Regional/National program is attempting to do that. As a driver, as you get experience you change, and what you want may change. When I first started, finishing was good, Today where I finish is important. So for those who want a bit less competitive stress, then the regional fits the bill. For those board with the regional pace or seeing the same racers, the National program gives them a place to go. That's two more cents for those counting.

Danny wanted some solutions thrown in with our discussion of concerns. I think the best way to reduce, you will never eliminate, but reduce, cheating is to have a consistent but random compliance program. Consistent meaning that your always doing something to check compliance, but random, so as to not allow someone to be prepared for it. So doing Random Dyno testing or random head checks is the type of things that could keep folks on there toes.

Its difficult however to expect complete coverage on all the areas, as this is still a volunteer organization. You can only get so much out of the folks who give up so much of there time to make your weekend happen.

Costs: that is a difficult one to fix. I built my car from a doaner and even using a 92,000 street motor the first year after the build and safety equipment i think I was at or near 20,000.00 in total costs. Paying another 10 to 15 to get the cream of the crop does not bother me. But what do we do about it, other than a sealed motor program. That will only account for about 3,000.00 of costs, if you compare a pro motor to a new crate motor. That is the difficult one in my book.

I absolutely think that SM is the best thing going. It is smart to keep analyzing it to make changes for the good.

Frank
TnT Racing
SCCA Ohio Valley Region
Chairman, SCCA Great Lakes Divisional Series Committee.

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#39
5X Racing

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Stripped from Jim's post:

"Lots post here about the 30,000 cars and the cheating at the front, in my experience 90% of the cheating is done in the mid pack. The guys at the front expect technical inspections, so it keeps most in line. Most in the middle assume the guys at the front are cheating so they must as well to keep up."

I personally think the $30,000 is the going rate to build a legal Spec Miata capable of winning a national, not the cost to cheat up your mid-packer, correct me if I am wrong. In the real world, I can get 140HP easily from $2000 worth of machine/engine work out of a Miata engine to keep up with the $30,000 legal cars. This is what has happened, it's been building with the rampant development of the 99 that's turned into a load of cheated up cars with basically ITA motors in them so they can keep up without putting in the development dollars. And you know, why not? Whose really checking or is going to lodge a protest that costs $4500? Especially at a regional race. I am on board with the Horsepower Cap and certification concept Mike Rossini is campaigning at NASA Mid-Atlantic races. There's a lot of fine tuning that goes with this concept, but when tuned it should be pretty good for the masses. It just makes sense too, go ahead and let somebody spend an outrageous amount of money on a car, if it makes too much horsepower on the post race dyno checks then that racers loses his times for the session or gets disqualified, then it gets de-tuned on the spot using timing and fuel pressure (we all can do it) so it falls back within the limit, and that guy gets to race again and not have a weekend ruined by a teardown (never happen anyways) or be able to get away with cheating. This is also a good way to filter out the blatant cheaters, surely the fellow racers wouldn't look kindly upon somebody getting busted pulling 140HP on the dyno would they?

John Adamczyk
Owner/Driver - 5X Racing


#40
KentCarter

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