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

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#41
Todd Lamb

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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

-contingency

-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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Full disclosure: SMAC chairman, my opinions do not reflect anything to do with the SMAC unless specifically stated.

Todd Lamb
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MX5 Cup Champion - Has won a Season in the MX5 Cup Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill NASA Champs Winner - NASA Champs Winner ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Series Champ - Won a points based series in a Spec Miata Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner Majors Winner - World Challenge Winner - World Challenge Winner

#42
powerss

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I'm assuming these are threaded steel bodies and a little shorter in length & travel than the Bils. Anybody know any of the technical?


Non threaded aluminum bodies. Better heat dissapation than steel and less expensive with coil over sleeves. Same sleeves we are using I believe.
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#43
EMatoy

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


It was indeed done in record time. I appreciate and applaud all of the work that went into this.
I am sure a lot of really smart people worked on it but sometimes even smart people make mistakes. I hope it wasn’t a rush to judgement to satisfy a deadline and the implementation and supply chain are all setup in time so this doesn’t get screwed up! I guess we will see next year if this was a good decision.
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#44
gerglmuff2

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#45
Ron Alan

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Ordered :)

 

I will just raise my rental prices ;)

 

Kidding aside... :clap: great job to everyone involved! How many cheated up bilsteins will get pulled off the shelf for next years regional races? :shame:


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#46
Mark McCallister

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The powerpoint was a long read but worth it.  Good job!  I did not miss the bit about SM8s on page 19.  The contingencies plan is excellent too. :thumbsup:


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#47
Mark McCallister

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And with the press embargo release on the 181hp ND2 this week, I'm overloaded on good Mazda news this week. :wub:


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#48
Tom Sager

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And this is exactly why people who actually know what they are doing and can afford the testing will have a huge advantage in the near future. The race is on...

 

Well, that's one advantage we have being up north in the cold.  With a season that doesn't start until April/May, some good setup info will be published or leaked by then from early adopters. 


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#49
Tom Sager

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:cheers:  Looks like good work by all that participated.  Thank you!

 

Did anyone see this in the Mazda announcement? 

 

"And on 30-minute to hour-long runs, where the current spec’s lap times slowed by three-plus seconds on the high-wear track surface, the Penskes never fell off to even two seconds compared to qualifying lap times."

 

Falling off 3-plus seconds after 30+ minute runs?  The only thing I concluded from this is that test driver Randy Pobst is over the hill :spin: .  Sorry Randy, luv ya. 


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#50
Dave D.

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So there are how many SMs in the US between NASA and SCCA? 2000 or so? Is is realistic to think Penske will have 8000 shocks built and ready to ship by November? And is it realistic to think all will get time on a shock dyno for verification? I'm sure there will be production variances, but will they be as bad as the Bilsteins(is Bilstein a larger production company with better QC?)? Maybe us up in the Northeast should wait for the feedback from Sebring and Homestead before going all in next season.



#51
Tom Sager

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The powerpoint was a long read but worth it.  Good job!  I did not miss the bit about SM8s on page 19.  The contingencies plan is excellent too. :thumbsup:

 

Yes we also need the SM8 assuming it offers longer competitive life.  Shocks may help, but the addition of a more cost effective tire will be welcomed also. 


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#52
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One of the many major problems with the Bilsteins is the massive variance in rebound forces. One of the mandates from the SMAC was to control the forces between shocks.
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#53
Todd Lamb

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The track was CMP....huge dropoff in speed on any tire on any car.  The benefit of testing there is that it accelerated tire degradation so we were able to see quite clearly that the Penske was being far more gentle on the tires (and thus the car/components).

 

To give you some idea of the wear, the Hoosier SM7 (on current shock) was almost out of rubber after three 20 minute sessions. Those tires usually don't wear out.

 

 

 

:cheers:  Looks like good work by all that participated.  Thank you!

 

Did anyone see this in the Mazda announcement? 

 

"And on 30-minute to hour-long runs, where the current spec’s lap times slowed by three-plus seconds on the high-wear track surface, the Penskes never fell off to even two seconds compared to qualifying lap times."

 

Falling off 3-plus seconds after 30+ minute runs?  The only thing I concluded from this is that test driver Randy Pobst is over the hill :spin: .  Sorry Randy, luv ya. 


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Full disclosure: SMAC chairman, my opinions do not reflect anything to do with the SMAC unless specifically stated.

Todd Lamb
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SpeedShift Transmissions - reliability and performance

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Spec MX-5 Challenge Series Director

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MX5 Cup Champion - Has won a Season in the MX5 Cup Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill - Survive the 25, NASA Thunderhill NASA Champs Winner - NASA Champs Winner ARRC Champion - Won the ARRC Race in a Spec Miata We have a Winnah! - Won their 1st race... Congratulations! Series Champ - Won a points based series in a Spec Miata Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver June Sprints winner  - June Sprints winner Majors Winner - World Challenge Winner - World Challenge Winner

#54
Jim Drago

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So there are how many SMs in the US between NASA and SCCA? 2000 or so? Is is realistic to think Penske will have 8000 shocks built and ready to ship by November? And is it realistic to think all will get time on a shock dyno for verification? I'm sure there will be production variances, but will they be as bad as the Bilsteins(is Bilstein a larger production company with better QC?)? Maybe us up in the Northeast should wait for the feedback from Sebring and Homestead before going all in next season.

The numbers at which they can produce these shocks.. literally shocked me. I dont see a production problem coming anytime soon


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#55
Andy Mitchell

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I know this sounds sort of sour and whiny (and we don't even race Spec Miata any more up here in the wilds of Canada, so I have no right to even have an opinion), but since the whole object of the class is to equalize the racing platform, why is it a great step forward for everybody to spend money on going faster? Looking on from the outside, It doesn't make sense to me. :help:


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#56
38bfast

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I know this sounds sort of sour and whiny (and we don't even race Spec Miata any more up here in the wilds of Canada, so I have no right to even have an opinion), but since the whole object of the class is to equalize the racing platform, why is it a great step forward for everybody to spend money on going faster? Looking on from the outside, It doesn't make sense to me. :help:



Going faster is a biproduct of having a shock matched for the purpose. For a Specish series consistency of shocks is a priority and the Bilsteins can’t offer that.
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#57
BNaumann

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I know this sounds sort of sour and whiny (and we don't even race Spec Miata any more up here in the wilds of Canada, so I have no right to even have an opinion), but since the whole object of the class is to equalize the racing platform, why is it a great step forward for everybody to spend money on going faster? Looking on from the outside, It doesn't make sense to me. :help:


I think once real setup information is disseminated the racing will be even tighter because these cars will be easier to drive.

#58
Martinracing98

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My impression is Mazda did a great job of taking a systematic approach to solve a problem. That excites me and gives me a lot of hope as a new driver this year to SM. But people do seam pretty optimistic about all the improvements that the shock will bring to the class. Improved bump stops, improved consistancy shock to shock are really two big improvements. Consistency over a race is a big bonus. The question is what is the unknown problems it causes. My 25 years of design experience has taught me there usually at least one. I think the ability to low the car is one that we should face head on and prevent. Otherwise I agree with Jim we will find these setting almost on the ground and dealing with the consequences that come with that.   



#59
Steve Scheifler

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You seem to think that the bump stops are “improved” in the sense of being an additional tuning factor, but what has twice been stated fairly clearly is that they were selected for just the opposite purpose. A hard bump stop that increases rate rapidly will discourage most from getting lower than some critical point. If you had ever run the original SM package too low you would understand. Get in too deep on any one shock and the car can suddenly go into push or loose mid-corner, and then switch abruptly the other way as you exit under throttle. Some, like the late great Harry Manning, just went down enough to use them all the time and drove a very skaty car, but it usually cost him by the end of a race. I’m not suggesting it is perfect or fool proof, someone with quick hands and mad car control skills will be out there flat tracking, but if the right parts are spec’d I don’t think there will be a lot of fast belly draggers.
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#60
LarryKing

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Just an observation - NASA and SCCA can work together on shocks. Why not get together on a spec tire?
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