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#1
Ryan K

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Making my first post here! I’m in a bit of a dilemma about what to do with my car and I’m looking for some advice. I’m currently 15 and the owner of a completely stock 60k original mile, 1995 Miata. I have no track experience yet but I’m really liking the way SM races are run (bump drafting, close racing all the time). I heard many times that its better to by an already sorted car to start the work on getting my comp license and to start racing with. I’m assuming its cheaper and will perform better than one I’d build myself, (Especially since I’d be building my first SM!) So my problem is this, I don’t care right now to be up front all time. I want to just get into it, and run some races and have a good time. Maybe when I’m 30 and have more money and experience I can go for some race wins haha! So I’ve been looking at the Spec Miata In a Box from Advanced Autosports and I’m considering buying it along with a few other things to assemble my own car. But at the same time, everyone says to buy an already built car so I can get more seat time and track experience. Given my situation, what are some thoughts on which route I should take?

Thanks for reading my long post, and for this great community!

#2
chris haldeman

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Start by using your current car and participate in some hdpe events near you. This will allow you to spend nearly zero dollars and start your learning. Super low cost spec miatas are always available for purchase. Also they typically don’t lose any money when you decide to quit or build a new competitive car
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#3
Ron Alan

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If you are prepared to eliminate your low mile Miata from ever being a street car again...then go for it! You are at a time in your life were I assume you dont have a job to worry about, you have some source of funding, and you have a lot of free time! Creating something yourself at your age has so many life lessons! Your effort will be measured in a greater appreciation for the car and the care/caution you will take as you get on track and come up to pace/improve. 

 

Your scenario is almost identical to how my son started...same year and Mileage car! We drove the stock 57k motor for the 1st year and then had the head done for the next year! This was a nice power improvement! The motor lasted 6 years(not full time)and was competitive! 

 

The decision to build or buy is very personal. Every persons situation is different. 

 

What Chris said is also great advice even if you decide to build! I cant tell you how many times I've seen people jump in with both feet...buying a car, trailer and a tow rig, only to do 2 races and put it all up for sale. Doing HPDE or renting a race car for a day or 2 can be money well spent! It will stoke the fire or may very well put it out!

 

Good luck Ryan and Welcome!


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#4
chris haldeman

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Life is short live it up!!!
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#5
Ryan K

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Start by using your current car and participate in some hdpe events near you. This will allow you to spend nearly zero dollars and start your learning. Super low cost spec miatas are always available for purchase. Also they typically don’t lose any money when you decide to quit or build a new competitive car


Alright sounds good! Yeah this is my plan, I live right by Autobahn Country Club in Joliet so I’ll definitely be doing some track days soon! Maybe I will see you on the track some time in the future! Just realized that I didn’t quote this properly too lol

#6
Ryan K

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If you are prepared to eliminate your low mile Miata from ever being a street car again...then go for it! You are at a time in your life were I assume you dont have a job to worry about, you have some source of funding, and you have a lot of free time! Creating something yourself at your age has so many life lessons! Your effort will be measured in a greater appreciation for the car and the care/caution you will take as you get on track and come up to pace/improve.

Your scenario is almost identical to how my son started...same year and Mileage car! We drove the stock 57k motor for the 1st year and then had the head done for the next year! This was a nice power improvement! The motor lasted 6 years(not full time)and was competitive!

The decision to build or buy is very personal. Every persons situation is different.

What Chris said is also great advice even if you decide to build! I cant tell you how many times I've seen people jump in with both feet...buying a car, trailer and a tow rig, only to do 2 races and put it all up for sale. Doing HPDE or renting a race car for a day or 2 can be money well spent! It will stoke the fire or may very well put it out!

Good luck Ryan and Welcome!


Ok hopefully I quoted this one correctly! But yeah thats really smart advice and I think I’m gonna go with building my own! It’ll be a lot of work but I think I’m ready to accept anything bad that goes wrong and enjoy the things that go right. I would love to throw an East Street engine in it one day but from your post, it looks like I can just get the head and still be decently competitive! Of course not runoffs winning but it’ll definitely be fun! I’m thinking I’ll start with some track days this summer at my local track. (Autobahn County Club). Thanks for your time and maybe I’ll catch you at the track one day!

#7
Steve Scheifler

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Ok hopefully I quoted this one correctly! But yeah thats really smart advice and I think I’m gonna go with building my own! It’ll be a lot of work but I think I’m ready to accept anything bad that goes wrong and enjoy the things that go right. I would love to throw an East Street engine in it one day but from your post, it looks like I can just get the head and still be decently competitive! Of course not runoffs winning but it’ll definitely be fun! I’m thinking I’ll start with some track days this summer at my local track. (Autobahn County Club). Thanks for your time and maybe I’ll catch you at the track one day!


Further to this and your original post, when building a fresh car there is almost nothing other than the engine that will make a meaningful difference between your car and any other including the front runners in terms of potential lap times. This is very nearly a spec class with few options, and other than the cage and the head it’s all very straightforward bolt-on. That’s not to say it doesn’t take a lot of man hours, especially if you want everything nice and clean & shiny as well as correct & reliable, but there’s fundamentally very few real tricks and fewer still that aren’t offered freely by others.
Once built it’s important to hit the track with a good basic neutral setup and good tires from day one, and then learn to drive and to feel what the car does approaching the limits and how that translates to driver and setup changes. Less a few HP, good tires and the right setup, you will have a front-running car in search of a driver to get it there! That’s the real strength and beauty of this class, often lost or overwhelmed by the myth that you need a $35k car. For that you get a beautiful rotisserie stripped & painted masterpiece and lots of little things that are racing luxury but not related to lap times. Excellent if you can afford it, but far from necessary to be competitive.

One thing, do look closely at data options and when you can wedge that into your budget.
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#8
Bench Racer

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Ryan, contact someone at Autobahn referencing Spec Miata car building/racing. YOU need to learn before you start throwing money around, said with a smile and remembering how much money I had a 15 years of age. They had and maybe still do have their own Spec Miata in house series. Get out there whenever you can and do some learning about Spec Miata race cars as all Spec Miata owners will share their information if it be build, sit in cars and racecraft. Contact this site Member Tom Sager who has owned two-three different Spec Miata's. Another contact would be Craig Cunningham 2nd COO/General Manager at The Autobahn Country Club. I met Craig and his racing buddy back in the early 2000's at Gingerman Raceway when they were racing Open wheel Mazda cars. Craig is one of the original investors. We paddocked several times at different tracks. At the time I had a Spec7 (85 Mazda RX7 #14, since a 1990 Spec Miata #14, sold summer of 2020) Then a few years latter as I was crewing for a National Production car guy we talked at Autobahn as he had a home/garage there. We remet outside the tech building as I was looking at a maybe 1950's Harley Davidson with side shifter and side car totally rebuilt and out comes Craig and we reintroduced ourselves. He likely will not remember me, that's ok. Both Tom and Craig are stand up no BS guys.

 

Open this link/site SCCA General Competition Rules and learn the rules of Spec Miata. file:///C:/Users/David/Downloads/GCR%20-%20January%202021as.pdf

 

Auto Bahn likely has stuff going on year around. There are professional and driver owned garages at the track.

 

https://autobahncc.c...e-track-rental/


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#9
Tom Sager

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Ok hopefully I quoted this one correctly! But yeah thats really smart advice and I think I’m gonna go with building my own! It’ll be a lot of work but I think I’m ready to accept anything bad that goes wrong and enjoy the things that go right. I would love to throw an East Street engine in it one day but from your post, it looks like I can just get the head and still be decently competitive! Of course not runoffs winning but it’ll definitely be fun! I’m thinking I’ll start with some track days this summer at my local track. (Autobahn County Club). Thanks for your time and maybe I’ll catch you at the track one day!

I'd echo the track day recommendation.  Several clubs have track days at Autobahn and also Gingerman and Blackhawk which are close to Chicago.  Gingerman if you're not familiar is in Southwest Michigan, easy drive from Chicago if you avoid the I94 rush.   If Autobahn try to enter one that is on the North or South course only.  The full course is an awful lot to learn in a day.  I think you'd accomplish more in the beginning on one track or the other.  Below is a link to registration site that lists all the events at these and many other tracks.  Some won't be in the schedule yet since it's still February.  Many provide instruction with the entry fee.  A big bonus.  As the weather gets better some are evening events like SCCA Track Night in America. 

 

As for your car, if it's as nice as the miles are low you might think about keeping it a street car or selling it and getting one that is well suited as a donor.  One not as valuable.  Yours may be worth more than you think.  On the other hand if it's more important to you to keep that one and make it a race car then have at it.  You'll learn a ton building a car but it won't be without challenges and more hours and cost than anticipated and it's always good to have help at the ready.  Track days first make sense.  It won't be too much effort to make a street Miata ready for track days.  You may need a roll bar installed though. 

 

If you haven't been to any Spec Miata races do that and talk to some people at the track. 

 

https://www.motorsportreg.com/

 

https://www.tracknightinamerica.com/


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#10
Camaro67racer

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I echo those that are suggesting to get on track first at a track day or HPDE event. You might also look at renting an SM before you build or buy one. Talk to Advanced Autosports about that (I hear they now have a satellite shop at Autobhan). Some people find that wheel-to-wheel racing just isn't really their thing. I bought my first SM from a guy like that.

 

When/if you are ready to have your own SM, you might want to consider is the value of your stock 60k-mile '95. Low mileage, stock NAs keep going up in value. I totally understand if you want to make your current car into an SM, but if you aren't married to that idea, you'd probably be better off, financially speaking, if you can sell your '95 for $8-$10k (just throwing that out there since I don't know the condition). Now you add $10k of additional money to that sale price of your NA and you are now into a pretty decent used SM (NB) range that you can go racing with and it'll still be worth about what you paid for it. You wouldn't be able to build your NA SM for the same $10k that just came out of your pocket, it would be a lot more. Also, keep in mind that NA SMs sell for less on the used market. You stand to "lose" more money building an NA SM than an NB. So, if the time came where you wanted to step up to an NB and sell your NA SM, you wouldn't be recouping as much of your initial investment. Just something to think about. If you love your current '95 and want it to be apart of your journey, by all means, go for it. But, remember to have fun!


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#11
LarryKing

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Alternatively, take all the money you currently have to purchase a Spec Miata and instead buy a Roth IRA. Then, every time there is an event you would have liked to enter, take the money you would have spent on entry fees, fuel, tires, tow vehicles, food and lodging (easy rule of thumb $1,000 - $2,000 per event), and contribute it to said IRA.

 

In about 45 years drink a toast to my memory.

 

(I wouldn't have taken this advice when I was 15 either.  :burst: )


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#12
Ryan K

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Alternatively, take all the money you currently have to purchase a Spec Miata and instead buy a Roth IRA. Then, every time there is an event you would have liked to enter, take the money you would have spent on entry fees, fuel, tires, tow vehicles, food and lodging (easy rule of thumb $1,000 - $2,000 per event), and contribute it to said IRA.

In about 45 years drink a toast to my memory.

(I wouldn't have taken this advice when I was 15 either. :burst: )



Hahaha you probably have the best idea but I don’t think I can hold off on racing fun any longer

#13
Ryan K

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I echo those that are suggesting to get on track first at a track day or HPDE event. You might also look at renting an SM before you build or buy one. Talk to Advanced Autosports about that (I hear they now have a satellite shop at Autobhan). Some people find that wheel-to-wheel racing just isn't really their thing. I bought my first SM from a guy like that.

When/if you are ready to have your own SM, you might want to consider is the value of your stock 60k-mile '95. Low mileage, stock NAs keep going up in value. I totally understand if you want to make your current car into an SM, but if you aren't married to that idea, you'd probably be better off, financially speaking, if you can sell your '95 for $8-$10k (just throwing that out there since I don't know the condition). Now you add $10k of additional money to that sale price of your NA and you are now into a pretty decent used SM (NB) range that you can go racing with and it'll still be worth about what you paid for it. You wouldn't be able to build your NA SM for the same $10k that just came out of your pocket, it would be a lot more. Also, keep in mind that NA SMs sell for less on the used market. You stand to "lose" more money building an NA SM than an NB. So, if the time came where you wanted to step up to an NB and sell your NA SM, you wouldn't be recouping as much of your initial investment. Just something to think about. If you love your current '95 and want it to be apart of your journey, by all means, go for it. But, remember to have fun!


So I actually listed it a few months ago and got really good offers (better than what I expected) and then just couldn’t come to follow through with a sale. I guess it just took for me to actually be in the situation of selling it where I realized how much I wanted to keep it! So I’ll definitely be keeping it and using it for my SM. But yeah I’ll definitely take your advice on the track days and HPDE first and I’ll see where I can rent an SM for a day too!
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#14
Ryan K

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I'd echo the track day recommendation. Several clubs have track days at Autobahn and also Gingerman and Blackhawk which are close to Chicago. Gingerman if you're not familiar is in Southwest Michigan, easy drive from Chicago if you avoid the I94 rush. If Autobahn try to enter one that is on the North or South course only. The full course is an awful lot to learn in a day. I think you'd accomplish more in the beginning on one track or the other. Below is a link to registration site that lists all the events at these and many other tracks. Some won't be in the schedule yet since it's still February. Many provide instruction with the entry fee. A big bonus. As the weather gets better some are evening events like SCCA Track Night in America.

As for your car, if it's as nice as the miles are low you might think about keeping it a street car or selling it and getting one that is well suited as a donor. One not as valuable. Yours may be worth more than you think. On the other hand if it's more important to you to keep that one and make it a race car then have at it. You'll learn a ton building a car but it won't be without challenges and more hours and cost than anticipated and it's always good to have help at the ready. Track days first make sense. It won't be too much effort to make a street Miata ready for track days. You may need a roll bar installed though.

If you haven't been to any Spec Miata races do that and talk to some people at the track.

https://www.motorsportreg.com/

https://www.tracknightinamerica.com/


Thanks for your reply and knowledge! I didn’t even think about that about autobahn. I’ve been there twice before to watch gridlife and a TF Works drift event but both times they had the link between the courses coned off. I think if I use my current Miata as the SM build which is the most likely thing to happen, I want to save a lot of the interior parts and carpets etc. and store them properly so I can always put in the work to return the car back to stock if I really want to.... dreams of NA Miatas going for 15k one day... haha

#15
Tim Wright

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In the mean time, you could buy a set of wheels and tires and try auto crossing?


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#16
Tim Wright

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Also - some people find racing is too much trouble (time and money and chaos etc). And only realize it isn't for them, after investing in everything. Driving gear, club membership.

If you must start by getting on a road course, you might HPDE your street car. I bought the biggest pile of a race car for $2k (Spec Rx7) and a used driving suit. Then took every licensing school.  Good luck!


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Alberto

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Thanks for your reply and knowledge! I didn’t even think about that about autobahn. I’ve been there twice before to watch gridlife and a TF Works drift event but both times they had the link between the courses coned off. I think if I use my current Miata as the SM build which is the most likely thing to happen, I want to save a lot of the interior parts and carpets etc. and store them properly so I can always put in the work to return the car back to stock if I really want to.... dreams of NA Miatas going for 15k one day... haha

 

Racing is hard on a car.  Especially aesthetics.  Paint chips, dents, wrinkled fenders are all common on race cars.  you don't run up front in SM without something happening.  Very unlikely you'll ever convert an SM back to a stock car that is worth 15k.


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#18
Ryan K

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In the mean time, you could buy a set of wheels and tires and try auto crossing?


Yeah thats what I’m gonna do. Going to buy some Momo Podium wheels and a nice set of tires and a roll bar! That way if I decide to do SM I can just use the same set of wheels and get the Toyo RRs on them. (I think I will start in NASA) seems to be a bit less competitive in the regional races and a bit easier to learn in. Maybe I’m wrong though haha




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