Thank you to all of you who took the time to reply. The information all of you have provided is invaluable and really shows the great sense of community that SM has. I really appreciate it.
That being said, now I have a shit ton more questions...
According to the NASA website regarding SM, the only tires permitted are Toyo Proxes, yet Danny Steyn mentions using Hooziers. I'd have to assume that he's refering to SCCA sanctioned races (I can't seem to find their specific rule book online). Additionally, in watching numerous Youtube videos of SM, there is reference to different catagories such as ITR, ITS, FP, ITL, STA, etc. I guess what I'm trying to figure out is, how many catagories can you race a spec Miata in, and, are the cars easily interchangable between SCCA and NASA specs. Also, is one sanctioning body preferable to the other.
Secondly, I didn't see any mention of insurance in any of the replys. When I was at that track day in Monterey, I specifically purchased what was basically catastrophic insurance just in case I did something stupid and balled up my buddies GP. Is there such Insurance policies available for SM racers or are you just financialy responsible for your accidents? Also, any premium bumps or exclusions on health insurance? I'd hate to (God forbid) sustain some injury, and then find out all the medical bills are out of pocket.
Finally, and this is just more for curiosity, is there any prize money or sponsorships available? It would be nice to offset some of the costs if I ever find myself remotely competitive.
I'm heading out to High Plains Raceway (HPR) this weekend to troll the paddock for more info and advice as they're having a NASA event there. I'm hopeful that the folks there are at least as patient as everyone here and will answer more of my 'Noob' questions, but any info supplied on this thread is very much appreciated.
In SCCA, there are 'National' classes which are eligible for the annual (bi-annual in SCCA) race and 'Regional' classes which are not. National classes are managed by the national chapter of SCCA. SM is a national class (as is GT*, Prod, Formulas etc). IT* (Improved Touring) are Regional and managed by the local/regional chapters. No big show for these classes. Just the regulars from your area racing. The rules are sometimes different in these Regional classes to better support the needs of the local racers. In SFR for example, we have Sealed Spec Miata which puts a max HP cap on participants so we can avoid the costs of 'pro', big money motors. We also run tires that last longer than Hoosiers (RA1). Our SSM class runs on track at the same time as SM.
Many cars are eligible to double dip and run a second class. The Miata can run SM and Improved Touring so some people do - mostly for more track time and fun.
NASA also has a SM class and a Performance Touring class which is roughly equivalent to SCCA's Improved Touring. Miatas can double dip there also - or you can prep the car to PT rules instead of SM and not take part in SM. Same with IT. It's up to you.
Sanctioning body preference is like picking a pair of shoes - personal preference mostly. They are more similar than they are different but the sanctioning body ultimately is a collection of people. The people set the vibe and culture. Spend time with both yourself and figure out which of the local chapters you like better or just run them both.
There is no insurance beyond the social contract with your fellow competitors and using your better judgement to stay out of risky situations.
David Gran wrote a book called "Go Ahead Take the Wheel". Answers a lot of questions that you posed. He also has a web site which is very informative: http://goaheadtakethewheel.com/