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Open Letter to Potential and Beginner Spec Miata Racers

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#41
Bruce Wilson

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What an awesome thread.  I agree with everything I've read.  Many racers come into SM hoping to be a quick success and leave when they find out what kind of commitment it really takes to be a top driver.  One of the biggest misnomers in racing is that you either have talent or you don't.  While in some rare cases that is true, I learned long ago that all it takes is persistence and a willing to be humble and ask questions...  Almost every front runner I've met (and I've met very many) are willing to share 98% of what they know about being fast.  All it takes is the commitment to get there.  I had good fortune to have friends that helped me get there, but I had to take the time to make it work.  Once I had a car that could keep up with anyone, it took me a while before I could keep up with the front group for a whole race, then one weekend I found myself leading a race full of some of the best drivers in the country, and there's no way I can describe how that feels!  With regards to motors?  Some of those fast guys I used to beat built their motors on there own (it might have taken them a few tries though :) ).  Moral of the story?  Don't use pro motors as an excuse to be disappointed with your progress.  Drive in every friggin race that you are able to, and like Kyle says double up  in other run groups.  You aren't going to be fast in this group until you are tiptoeing around every corner on the edge from turn-in ALL THE WAY TO exit!  The good part is that the journey is half the fun, and the winning?  Well, you'll just have to experience that for yourself!


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#42
Bad Rusty

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This thread should have a large button or tab on the main page that says "New or interested in spec miata? Read this first"
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#43
davew

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I have also heard repeated to me if you can drive a slow car fast you can drive a fast car at the limit which is why I chose a slow car to learn in. 

 

-Derrick

 

Are you calling a Spec Miata a "Fast Car" :optimist:  :optimist:  :optimist:

 

Dave


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#44
FTodaro

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What an awesome thread.  I agree with everything I've read.  Many racers come into SM hoping to be a quick success and leave when they find out what kind of commitment it really takes to be a top driver.  One of the biggest misnomers in racing is that you either have talent or you don't.  While in some rare cases that is true, I learned long ago that all it takes is persistence and a willing to be humble and ask questions...  Almost every front runner I've met (and I've met very many) are willing to share 98% of what they know about being fast.  All it takes is the commitment to get there.  I had good fortune to have friends that helped me get there, but I had to take the time to make it work.  Once I had a car that could keep up with anyone, it took me a while before I could keep up with the front group for a whole race, then one weekend I found myself leading a race full of some of the best drivers in the country, and there's no way I can describe how that feels!  With regards to motors?  Some of those fast guys I used to beat built their motors on there own (it might have taken them a few tries though :) ).  Moral of the story?  Don't use pro motors as an excuse to be disappointed with your progress.  Drive in every friggin race that you are able to, and like Kyle says double up  in other run groups.  You aren't going to be fast in this group until you are tiptoeing around every corner on the edge from turn-in ALL THE WAY TO exit!  The good part is that the journey is half the fun, and the winning?  Well, you'll just have to experience that for yourself!

This brings to mind, What you don't know, you don't know.

It takes time to figure things out. Separate the fact from the fiction and figure out what works for you. I feel dumber now then when i started.


Frank
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#45
tripplej93

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This brings to mind, What you don't know, you don't know.

It takes time to figure things out. Separate the fact from the fiction and figure out what works for you. I feel dumber now then when i started.

 

Brother Joe and I were early adopters, the first team to run Miatas in IMSA Endurance (1994).   By the time the series ended we had gotten pretty good (1998).   Move ahead 14 years and we started running Joey and Jahna in LeMons and then Spec Miata and we had forgotten everything, lol.   Hard work and slowly remembering have finally paid off (3+ years later) where we pretty consistently run towards the front.  So I completely and totally resemble the "I feel dumber now then when I started" line!


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#46
Bench Racer

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Move ahead 14 years and we started running Joey and Jahna in LeMons and then Spec Miata

Met Joey at the Runoffs last year. Heard about Jahna. Does she continue to race? 


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#47
Joe (dad) Jordan

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Met Joey at the Runoffs last year. Heard about Jahna. Does she continue to race? 

She has been away at college on a Field Hockey Scholarship, but is returning home soon. So she will be back racing next year.  She got her scca license a few years ago, but a Division 1 athlete takes a ton of commitment.  Excited to have her back close to home and back to racing....

 

Joey is starting his Jr year at UCSB after transfering from a JUCO He is a year younger than Jahna who is 21.


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#48
Keith Novak

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Jim's post pretty much checks the boxes with what I try to tell people. Drive what you have. Don't skip events because your tires are on the 8th heat cycle, and someone you've never seen before on the internet is telling you that you'll suck without sticker tires.

One thing that I feel really helped me (In addition to running a video camera, a lap timer, and plugging a faster driver in my car) was running 2 classes. SM and STL, for the extra seat time. At most events here, it's only an extra $150 or so, and I'll run the oldest, hardest tires I've got. I'll often pick one area I want to work on in my driving, such as altering a line getting onto a straight to try to carry more speed, or to try out different sway bar settings/tire pressures.

Double dipping may not always be the best thing.  Remember when I chased STL points all season?  I was so busy running around all weekend that I never had time between sessions to figure out what I was doing right or wrong.  I just kept driving a lot.  I've done better figuring out what I'm doing right and wrong between sessions and focusing on quality.  It doesn't mean seat time isn't important but dialing in bad driving habits can be problematic too.


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#49
MDixon

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This thread is so perfect for me, we were pitted right next to you guys last weekend at THill and my son blew up his motor on Friday. We are brand new to SM after a decade of racing karts so everything is so new but very much the same. 

We had to decide how to proceed, we heard it all get a junk yard motor no get a pro motor...

Well we picked up a fresh spare motor from a racer for a couple grand because we know how much we both have to learn, this thread has helped opened my eyes about tires and I will not play the sticker game until my boy has reached that point.

I totally agree about data, I too pour over the data on the laptop after each session. It is invaluable to finding time.

 

Look forward to the next years working our way forward.


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#50
Brandon

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For those of you running a Traqmate, if you're working out some new lines/ideas on being faster, when you select which types of laps to capture be sure and select "Qualifying" instead of "Laps".

This will set the TM to perform sector analysis and give you a better idea as you pass from sector to sector when you improved things.

 

If you're .4 faster through sector 1, the TM will display a "+.4" that at the bottom as you enter sector 2.  Then if you then lose time in sector two, after entering sector 3 it will show you "+.2" or whatever (you 'lost' .2 in the last sector).  Continuing, if you gain time in sector 3 then as you enter sector 4 it will show that improvement ("+.5").

 

It's not perfect, and I may be misreading the display & manual, but that's what gives me the data to figure out while I'm on-track where I need to focus my time.

 

Example: @Thompson, CT, I was +.4 leaving sector 1 yet by the time I completed sector 2 I was at net-0 ("+0") so I was effectively gaining then losing the same amount of time through sectors 1 & 2.

And don't get me started about sector 3...


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#51
manthony121

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What a terrific thread!  I have yet to turn my first lap in SM (or any car, for that matter).  The comments and advice all seem very sound.

 

I have just registered for the Last Chance Drivers School and Regional at WGI in October.  I'll be renting a car from Flatout, and driving (hopefully, if I get signed off) in SM and STL in the Regional.  I didn't sign up for the ProIT or Enduro race.  My biggest fear is being in the way of everyone else.  So, if you see me doing something really stupid, please don't be shy about pointing it out.  I firmly believe the old saying, "You have to learn from the mistakes of others; you won't have time to make them all yourself."

 

Hope to see some of you there!


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#52
Brandon

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Manthony,

I sent you a PM but we'll keep this thread going...

 

The best thing I can tell you is your concerns will be addressed at the school so you shouldn't be too worried.  Most schools are good for assuaging the students of their fears...

And considering the level of competition & niceness here in the NE, if you do end up doing something stupid you'll most likely hear about it but in the best way!!

 

Anyway, I'll be there myself so I'll at least come by and say "Hey".

 

Good luck!

Brandon


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#53
tripplej93

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If anyone here is running the NASA race this weekend at Pueblo, come by and say hey.   If you have never used data before, I should have an extra SoloDL you can borrow and I can walk you through some basics.   Tight schedule means it may be compressed but I am sure we can help you start learning.   Do me a favor and load Race Studio onto your laptop so you can take your data home.   We should be able to give you two other cars for comparison too.

 

Jim Jordan


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#54
Qik Nip

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In 2003 a fellow SM racer named Brian Post told me that it took five years of full season racing to develop effective racecraft skills. He was right. I raced a very tired 102 HP 147,000 mile, 10 psi oil pressure motor for two seasons and that paid off. I subsequently upgraded to a new crate motor, then a pro head and when I was regularly running in the top five, a pro motor. Along that same pathway, I graduated from a tire store alignment to professional corner balancing, better rubber, better exhaust, a data logger etc, etc. 

I suspect that if you took driver P20 and driver P1 and swapped them and thier cars, the P1 guy in the P20 car would finish about fifth and the P20 guy in  the P1 car would be about 15th.   

Rick


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#55
davew

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I suspect that if you took driver P20 and driver P1 and swapped them and thier cars, the P1 guy in the P20 car would finish about fifth and the P20 guy in  the P1 car would be about 15th.   

Rick

 

Not counting big Majors events where there are 20 top cars, I would put the P1 driver with a P20 car into 3rd place and the P20 driver in the P1 car would only move to 18th.

 

It is still a 75% driver skill and 25 percent car that wins races.

 

Dave


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Dave Wheeler
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Building Championship winning cars since 1995

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Back to Back June Sprints Spec Miata 1-2 finishes 2016 and 2017

5 time June Sprints winner in Mazda's

6 Time Northern Conference Champion Car Builder

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2014 Central Division Champion, ITS (Wheeler)

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Over 200 race wins and counting.
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