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Spec Miata Penske Shocks Setup Tips

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#1
Johnny D

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Changing to the new Penske Racing Shocks for Spec Miata shouldn’t result in major setup changes with one exception: keep it off the bump stops!

 

Many Spec Miata drivers have heretofore preferred to have their car riding on the bump stops under compression. With the original spec shock – which was taken off the shelf and designed for street, not racing, use – not fully able to handle the weight and spring rates, riding on the bump stops provided a stiff and predictable, if skittish, platform. With the switch to the new Penske Racing Shocks setup that is approved for 2019 and mostly required for 2020 for both NASA and SCCA, setting the ride height to hit the stops – or not, based on driver preference – should be a thing of the past.

 

“We’ll still have the capabilities as far as ride height, but we’re showing what a good starting point is and how much deviation we want from that starting point – plus or minus a quarter-inch,” explains Mazda Motorsports Specialist for Technical Development Josh Smith. “The goal is to keep people from engaging the bumps. Where before our ride height changes were based on bump stop engagement, now we’ve got a little bit more throw due to the size and shape of the bump stop. We’re not changing ride height to engage or disengage the bumps based on the bumpiness and smoothness of the track. We’re going to find much less of a need to change ride heights for every particular place like there was in the past.”

 

Smith explains that the bump stops in the new package are designed as a last measure of protection to prevent damage to the shock or chassis. Not only will keeping the car from engaging the bump stops lead to more predictable handling, it should increase the longevity of suspension components and tires, Smith notes. Beyond ride height adjustment, little should change in the setup.

 

“Cross weights, toe, camber, all that stuff … racers are going to be able to use their current knowledge base. They can apply that to the new shock and be successful right out of the box,” says Smith.

 

The Penske shocks ship with detailed assembly instructions for the spherical top mounts and in what orientation to install the bump stops. Beyond that, installation should be pretty straightforward for anyone that’s ever done a Spec Miata shock swap. Smith does offer one piece of assembly advice, however.

 

“The only thing that’s going to be new from the past is we put an O-ring groove in the shock body to hold the coilover sleeve in place a little better. An installation tip would be to apply a little bit of silicone lube to the O-ring groove so the sleeve will slide over them easier and not roll them over inside the groove,” he says.

 

The first shipments of the new Penske Racing Shocks for Spec Miata are in the hands of customers who pre-ordered. More are on their way to Mazda Motorsports, ready to fill the demand. Call (800) 435-2508 to order your set if you haven’t already.


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#2
ChrisA

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The first shipments of the new Penske Racing Shocks for Spec Miata are in the hands of customers who pre-ordered

 

Hmm..., not so much  <_<


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Chris

 

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#3
Martinracing98

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Hmm..., not so much  <_<

 

Technically I got my pre-ordered shocks. Mounts, not so much :pessimist:



#4
38bfast

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From what I am told is there was a computer glitch at the Mazda distribution center. They said it should be fixed now and shipping should continue next week.

There is a big demand for the new Penskes. Not just the SM comunity wants them.
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#5
CDM

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Ordered mine today! They said the next batch should get out there around about the end of this month :)


Hey i mean it has one seat, it's basically a F1 car right?


#6
SHOP TEACHER

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Well I was #6 in the world to get mine and they came a in two shipments a week apart, last week.  I also found out that if you are building a new set and do not have the Fat Cat kit already, you do NOT have all you need.  The kit does not come with springs, collars, hats and the rubber spacer that goes under the spring.  Mazda is referring customers to 5X for the spacers that cost $18.00 each, since they do not carry them. Advance Auto Sports carries them too.



#7
Steve Scheifler

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Well I was #6 in the world to get mine and they came a in two shipments a week apart, last week. I also found out that if you are building a new set and do not have the Fat Cat kit already, you do NOT have all you need. The kit does not come with springs, collars, hats and the rubber spacer that goes under the spring.


That is as expected and previously stated, although the top hats are stock NB parts which can be bought from Mazda for NA cars, and the spacer (not rubber) goes on top of the spring not under it.
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#8
Ron Alan

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Got my shocks...still waiting on whatever else comes after 3 weeks :(

 

To clarify what Al and Steve said above. The kit you are buying is an "upgrade". You have to already have the existing set up to complete!

 

For reference...if someone is building new...is there a kit/part number that comes complete from Mazda that includes everything including the new Penske's and its pieces?


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#9
Johnny D

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5x currently has a few kits depending on how much you need with Bilstein, I would keep an eye out for an updated kit.

https://5xracing.com...=category:95122

 

J~


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#10
Keith Williamson

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I received my shocks and the mono-ball/bump stop kit on 11/30/18.  I decided to wait to install them and ordered a new set of 4 top hats and a set of rings/sleeves from Mazda.  That allowed me to drill the 15/16" hole in the top hats at home and take the partially assembled shock set to AMP where I store my car.  Installed them last Friday.  For the install, I put the rings and sleeves at the same height as my old rings were at, glued the rubber pads from my old shock top hats to the underside of the new top hats.  Car ride height was the same as it was before ….about 4-5/8" plus or minus on all 4 corners.  We had a spec miata/spec E30 race scheduled for last Sunday so I got to try them out.  After the warm up session I came in and checked the O-rings that I had put on the shock rods to check how close I was getting to the bump stops.  RF, LR & RR O-rings were all up against the bump stops.  The RF was about 3/16" below the bump stop.  I did 3 full rounds up and then went out for the first qual session.  Came in and the O-rings were the same except the RF was close to 1/2' below bump stop.  Did one more full round up on the rings and went out for 2nd qual and checked again.  Same for the 3 corners but RF was a touch more than 1/2" down from bump stop.  By this time the ride height on the car was up at about 5-1/2" at the pinch weld.  I thought; "Screw it, race what you got".  Car didn't seem to handle any different than before.  I did notice in the warm up that the car seemed to show 'bump steer' with minor bumps and was getting steering wheel deflection on minor bumps on track.  Didn't seem to notice that in the race but may have been a little too amp'd up to notice.  I have since gone back and taken 2 full rounds out (lower) on the rings.  My intend was to check to see if I stayed off the bump stops if I took T11 wide and slow.  T11 at AMP has huge compression and I think there is basically no way to stay off the bump stops on that corner.  Didn't get to check because someone had rented the track that day so I'll try again this Sunday or next weekend at the latest.


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#11
Steve Scheifler

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It is very difficult to use the o-ring/zip-tie method for shock travel unless you have a reasonably smooth track and stay completely off any curbs/rumbles.
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#12
38bfast

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The O ring trick sounds great in theory but unfortunately the only thing it tells you is max travel. So someware on the track the shock moved to that position. The information you are looking for is what was the position of the shock everywhere on the track. When it comes to max travel (into the stops) the concern is the max time/distance the shock is in that position and under what condition that happened. Unfortunately the only way to know that is with shock pots connected to a data system. And it has to be recorded at +200 hrz to be telling data. I had pots on my SM and my P1 car. I find the data very useful. I believe Powers runs pots on their car as well.

Of course data is great to understand what is happening but the stop watch is king. So when your doing setup the end question is alway what’s fast in the end. I don’t care how it feels I care what’s fast.
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#13
Keith Williamson

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Steve, Ralph- Thanks for the response.  I understand what the O-ring is indicating and that it is pretty limited (indicates that the shock didn't hit the bump stop or that it hit the bump stop once.  Doesn't indicate max travel after hitting the stop or how many times it hit bump stop or where on track it hit the bump stop).   

I guess I'm guilty of listening to the power point briefing on the shocks where they said you didn't want to get on the bump stops if possible.  And further that at CMP they were able to be pretty aggressive with the curbs, jump the curbs without getting on the bump stops.  Jumping T3 at CMP flat out is quite an adventure from my experience.  Anyway, I know that the most sophisticated data system I'm going to have is going to be the o-ring.  Shock pots hooked up to a data system are not in my future:)  So that is why I raised the car twice to see if I could stay off the bump stops at the track.  NOPE.  I've re-lowered the car and will try to take certain areas of the track out of the equation (T11 at AMP).  If I'm still getting on the bumps, I'll take more things out until I get a feel for what it will handle.  I agree with you, the stop watch is still the ultimate measure.


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#14
Jim Drago

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For reference...if someone is building new...is there a kit/part number that comes complete from Mazda that includes everything including the new Penske's and its pieces?

uhh , not yet :)


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#15
Tom Sager

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Steve, Ralph- Thanks for the response.  I understand what the O-ring is indicating and that it is pretty limited (indicates that the shock didn't hit the bump stop or that it hit the bump stop once.  Doesn't indicate max travel after hitting the stop or how many times it hit bump stop or where on track it hit the bump stop).   

I guess I'm guilty of listening to the power point briefing on the shocks where they said you didn't want to get on the bump stops if possible.  And further that at CMP they were able to be pretty aggressive with the curbs, jump the curbs without getting on the bump stops.  Jumping T3 at CMP flat out is quite an adventure from my experience.  Anyway, I know that the most sophisticated data system I'm going to have is going to be the o-ring.  Shock pots hooked up to a data system are not in my future:)  So that is why I raised the car twice to see if I could stay off the bump stops at the track.  NOPE.  I've re-lowered the car and will try to take certain areas of the track out of the equation (T11 at AMP).  If I'm still getting on the bumps, I'll take more things out until I get a feel for what it will handle.  I agree with you, the stop watch is still the ultimate measure.

 

You might try temporarily mounting a camera or two in a position that would give you video of shock motion.  Could be a cheap solution. 


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#16
OrangeCrush86

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So if I have an NA with bilsteins do I need to order NB top hats? What is the part number?


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#17
Steve Scheifler

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If you have the fat cat setup, or even the optional configuration from before that (IIRC), then you already have the NB hats and simply need to increase the size of the center hole. The original NA tops are entirely different and easily identifiable as such.
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#18
OrangeCrush86

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I already have fat cats. I'll get my order in and see what happens.


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#19
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Posted by Mazda today:

 

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Mazda Motorsports Technical Bulletin #1: Penske Racing Shocks Installation

January 10, 2019

 

 

Installation: How to torque the Nyloc fastener, and how not to

 

Hold the shock’s shaft by hand while using a 3/8” or 1/4” impact driver to seat Nyloc. 

 

Do not grab the shock’s shaft with plyers or vice grips to hold while torqueing the Nyloc nut on the top as that amount of force is not required to adequately torque the Nyloc, and can score the shaft’s finish, creating a leak, ending the driver’s race session and requiring Penske Racing Shocks to fix it. 

 

Do not use Loctite on this Nyloc fastener as the fastener will be very difficult to remove. 

 

 

Reminder Article – “Penske Shocks Tested and Ready: Shaker Rig Test Information”

- now includes ser anuals:

https://www.mazdamotorsports.com/2018/11/28/penske-spec-miata-shocks-are-tested-and-ready/

 

 

We appreciate your support,

 

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#20
mdavis

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Note that I and a few others have had the incorrect nut come with the shocks.  Pitch is incorrect.


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