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#1
Jamz14

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Ill start by saying that this is not a doom and gloom post. When you can recognize facts you can shape the direction of the future instead of letting it wash over you.

 

Its probably hard to see the inevitableness of SMs demise. Car counts are quite good in many areas including SOCAL where we have many new people coming in and some fantastic momentum going with junior drivers.But this speaks more to the fact that racing is healthy and as of this one brief moment in time, SM is still the best choice for new drivers. It is still the class that the best drivers in the country race in. Its not the quality of the cars or the drivers that will send SM to the rest home. What will send SM to the rest home is what sends everyone to the rest home or grave: age.

 

There are no new model years coming into SM. This is the equivalent to a community no longer producing children. Yes the community might be a buzz of activity, playing bingo and shuffle board before heading off to the early bird specials and a 7pm bedtime. But without children the community is dead.There is zero initiative that I see to integrate the NC and ultimately the ND into SM. No long term planning on how to do that. When we had the opportunity to do that, it received big push back from influential players in SM. There were logical reasons for that push back. Most had to do with money and some had to do with effort. But it wasn't because it was impossible to do. It was going to take some effort though. You all see the monumental effort it takes to get logical and needed changes to the class rules. Good luck trying to get a non hardtop path speced. That would save you $2400 and freight on a car build, plus a better handling car (handling, not faster ). But some technical genius but practical simpleton is going to want wind tunnel testing. How long did the 1.6 upgrade package take let alone the mental fatigue on everyones part? That experience on the 1.6 change probably influenced the relative speed of change to the NA1.8 compared to the 1.6 change. But I also think it had a negative influence as well. Once something like the NA1.8 package was changed, never is it to be addressed again. Its a win: speedy change and much reduced time and thought effort.

 

This is not a negative comment on my part to the organizations and individuals that put massive time into ALL things racing. This is a natural reaction in response to the people that this is a negative commentary on: Us Racers. And some of us racers may also be one of the committed and hard working individuals that part of the hard working organizations and groups that are reacting to us racers. We racers put these people in Whiney Little B*%?# hell. That we is me too. Here I am writing a Whiney Little B post. That's because that is what racing is about and requires. You MUST be a Whiney Little B to constantly push micro improvements against forces that are positioned in roles to resist your constant push for micro improvements; competitors, tech, class, organization. Of these it is the fellow competitor that is in the greatest opposition to our/your push for improvement. It has been helpful to me to embrace this logical nature of all parties. Instead of seeing the biggest of them all Whiney Little B, I see the person who is the most driven to be number one. You are still a Whiney Little B but you are also number 1 and you have my respect in the effort it took to succeed against an army of other Whiney Little Bs. But I digress.

 

Lets move to some facts and away from diatribe.

 

SM today and for any foreseeable future consist of the NA through NB chassis. Even though that reservoir of cars is quite large compared to the NC/ND chassis, it is still an older and finite reservoir. A solid case can be made that the reservoir might be finite but is vast enough to serve the need for many years to come. Ironically, I am of that opinion. But it is also a fact that every single part an aspect of keeping that reservoir on the track in tip top shape will increase in expense until such a time that that expense intersects the expense in running say........ Spec MX-5. We are incredibly close to that right now. A quick example using market cost for a top car. Forgive me if I am off a few thousand. Dragos own SM car sold out here in the west for I believe 45K or so. A series winning Spec MX-5 will cost you 45K to 55K . Moving away from the marketed top cars you have damn fine cars. A damn fine SM will go for 25K to 40K. But a damn fine Spec MX-5 can be had right now for around 30 to 35K. So IMO we are very very close to the intersection of SM and Spec MX-5 cost. There are going to be a million examples of how Spec MX-5 has much greater costs and those stories are true. And they will be accurate. However with it a fact of inevitable rising costs of SM it will intersect. And with ongoing work by all the parties that want to see Spec MX-5 succeed, it is probable that some of the current higher than needed costs of Spec MX-5 will reduce.

 

But you say that Spec MX-5 doesn't have the car counts right now to have an impact of the popularity of SM. This is true. However that argument fails to see the power of exponential growth and decline. Fails to see the inevitability of the future and the cusp. There is a young driver out there right now making a decision on whether to go SM or SMX5. He has a bunch of old people telling him of the value of driving large fields of super talented drivers. And that the experience they get will be invaluable to the career. There will be some argument about costs and stuff, but this will sound like BLAH BLAH BLAH to the young driver. But yes, the support team might hear the financial cost. But to some, the financial difference, which is going to collapse over time, isn't an obstacle. But then they have someone else with another voice giving them a different path. A sexy path. Not only does sexy sell even when it is expensive, sexy captures attention. And what does a young talented driver need almost more than money, ATTENTION. So that one young driver where money isnt an obstacle decides on sexy attention and buys a SMX5. That is one driver that did not come to SM. That is a fact. But you might say that is one driver and meanwhile we had 3 other young SM drivers come in. Yeah, ok. But it wasn't just one driver. Even if it was, one turns into 2, 2 turns into 4, 4 into 8 because the cons vs the pros are going to inevitably decline as costs rise.

 

The cons will also decline as the field counts begin to grow in SMX5. The naysayers will say yeah but the car counts aren't there yet. True. I think that everyone says they want to drive with the best drivers in the largest fields. But there are a couple of reasons I actually think that is BS alot of the time and just plain bad advice to certain drivers. Its BS because there are so many of us, me included that are happy knowing that they will never be the MX5 cup champ. That are very and happy content in my old man world occasionally stepping onto my regional SM podium. You know what content old people have? Money. Money to experience youthful rushes of driving in sexier environments and occasionally stepping onto the sexy podium. That is one more driver that decided to buy a car that is close to cost intersection. It is bad advice because what a young driver looking to make his way up the ladder needs is attention. in a moderate field in an average region on any particular day the odds of winning even for the best driver might be something like 50/50 . And I think I am being very kind with those odds. But even if not, that is in an average region with a moderate field with an average mix of drivers. Not very attention getting. What sexy thing are the eyeballs that matter looking at right now? Yes those eyes might also be watching something like say the runoffs. A large field with the best drivers. What do you think the odds of winning are the even the very best driver? I give it 10%. Give it 25%. You have greater odds in disappointing the eyeballs looking than you do in pleasing. That is fantastic and something that is good about competitive competition. But realize that that represents the sport of racing and not the career of racing a car. Yes you should go to the runoffs and take a swing for the bleachers. But it is bad advice to say to a young driver that that is the only way. For a career, that is the least likely way. Young drivers do not have time for all the stars to align and fate hand them an opportunity. They have to create them and garner attention. So there are voices out there whispering to drivers; SMX5, the field is smaller and you have great odds in winning. (said in a soft dream like way). It is good advice. Young drivers need to win. Good advice is one that suggest improvements in their chances to win as quickly as possible before life collapses opportunity around them.

 

The point is that it is factual and logical that over time SM car counts will decline because the chassis are finite in supply with no effort to expand or modify the eligible chassis. Modify in either the model year or the spec around the current years. To modify in either way requires a lot of effort. And because of the effort, it is easiest to leave the eligible model years as is. SMX5 handles the newer years so no need to take that on. But now the arguments above kick in and we have a driver deciding to go that route. Nothing wrong with that. And if you realize that then everything is groovy. Accept the growing costs and that sometime in the future you will be racing against a smaller and smaller field with the people around you getting older and older.

 

It might say SpecMX5 on the door, but inside it is SM. What people said SM was. That is the future laid out. If you want something different, then we have to put in effort. We would have to act unlike we have. Quickly and without bringing our Whiney Little B side to the table. Be comfortable with making mistakes and the mistakes unintentionally benefiting others . Being adroit in rectifying those mistakes. Be prepared to grow and move instead of being content in homeostasis. Willing to let go of loved and cherished cars. Homeostasis right now is that SMX5 is separate from SM without any path to integration of the 2. I actually might be just fine with that. Its probable that it is better that way.

 

But for consideration: The integration of the NC chassis into SM. The planned mothballing of model years as they get to be unacceptably costly to keep in class our too difficult to balance performance from a cost/time benefit perspective. There will be responses to this post that will present all the specific reasons why it isn't happening. They will be experienced and accurate reasons. But they will not be able to say that it is impossible. Only that it isn't worth the effort. So is that right? Is it not worth the effort and we should accept the future as it is currently playing out? Probably. Probably better that we accept our children's arm as they walk us to the home. And I am being sincere. Probably have much more fun with people our own age that have the same experiences we do. Let the next generation have their own SM with a different name.

 

Maybe. Or maybe we have a long and bright future with the label SM being the moniker of the best drivers in the country.

 

A long post that will be criticized for at least its length. But at least its a post. Those have been rare these days. Have you noticed that? The central plaza hasn't been quite the same lately. I don't hear the quartet singing under the gazebo much. Maybe the battery has failed on my hearing aide and my glasses out of date.

 


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#2
ChrisA

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Is there a CliffsNotes version.


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#3
Jamz14

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Is there a CliffsNotes version.

Sure, here it is.

 

Because we are too lazy or busy to even read, everyone's next car next car build should be an SMX5.


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#4
Jim Drago

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Jamz

the post was so long and so boring, I couldn't get through it.  I agree with the whiny litle B comment. :)  

Yes the class will die out some day, but we are no where near that day. 

 

Your figures on my car at 45k, was literally a two race old car that won the National Championship. There is/was NO comparable Spec Mx5 sold. The best Spec MX5 beat about 1/3 as many cars as the Sm you mentioned. The same one that beat you guys out there badly the following year with a rookie driver.  I sold what I believe to one of the best built Spec MX5 car in the country for 50k ( a loss for me, couldn't give that car away which is not a good sign to me. ) Do the math with Mazda's own spread sheet, actually change all the parts that we routinely change building a proper SM race car and you will be way above 50k, quickly! Well, unless you charge zero dollars for your time building it.  I would say "like to like" you will pay 15k more buying or building a Spec Mx5. The operation costs are substantially higher. Most common body parts are about twice as much as NB cars, look up some. Used NC parts are also very rare, most cars are auto and PRHT.  The transmissions and diffs are very fragile. Not sure if they allowed a new diff, there was talk. Its needed. They diffs don't last very long and in my experience and never very good even when new you get some wheel spin.  

 

 I will say that I don't see Spec Mx5 growing nearly as fast as most thought it would, I do not know the numbers, but it seems less popular this year than last? That even with crazy high contingencies being paid out trying to help grow the class.  Spec MX5, like all classes is not without its problems and I see some converting their cars back to T4.  The ones who planned this class out had the best of intentions but IMO they went wrong with several things. Maybe they may have been better served looking outside their very tight circle? The motors IMO should have been sealed 3500 crates, not what they have now. The Spec MX-5 specific parts IMO are too expensive for what they are. 

 

Spec Miata has dominated Spec MX5 in every way since its inception and will continue to dominate Spec MX5 for many years to come. IMO, the NB is a much better car than the NC.  IMO, it will not be Spec Mx5 that replaces SM. SM will never be " replaced", it is the best thing to ever happen to club racing. I think SM will shrink eventually, but certainly not in the next 6-10, maybe over the next 10-15 years and the people will spread into many other classes. Bspec has more traction and growth right now than Spec MX5.  The ND cars may be a nice reboot for SM, I think we should have just skipped the NC, by far my least favorite Ford, I mean Mazda :)

 

Spec Mx5 may be a good path for you though :)


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#5
38bfast

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I would be more concerned about Racing dying. SM will probably be the last strong hold. Fact is the pool of cars that can be turned into race cars is drastically shrinking. The majority of new cars are SUVs. Many of the new models that may be candidates are getting so complicated that they are very hard to make into race cars. The big push for EVs also presents big changes. Open Wheels numbers are horrible right now. Look around at the next race you're at and see what's racing. It looks more like vintage everyday. Many classes not even making a 3 car field. SRF is adopting a new sequential transmission anding even more cost to the class that just experienced a costly engine upgrade. I was told by on of the SRF prep shops that a brand new SRF with the new box is now in the 65k range.   

 

We also are fighting a cultural battle. The technical expertise to build and maintain a race car is shrinking. The number of people who can turn a wrench is shrinking. Society has deemed working with your hands a booby prize in life. 

 

B-Spec is on the rise do to a lack of options. It's the easiest and cheapest button to push right now. IMHO it's a very sad option of a car to race. 

 

We are also fighting a society that wants instant gratification. Well racing isn't that. It takes way too much work , effort and money. 

 

The next battle for racing will be the EPA or "climate change". How long do you think it will be tolerated for us to burn fossil fuels just for entertainment? 

 

Racing as a whole has much bigger challenges than SM IMHO. The direction of culture and society is our biggest hurdle to come. 


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Steve Scheifler

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WOW! I’m glad I sat on the sidelines for a bit on this one, I could not have matched that. Those were two of the best answers, coming at it from different angles, I’ve ever read to a question of this kind. Nicely done Jim and Ralph, spot on!
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Steve Scheifler

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That said, there are factors making it more difficult and sometimes more expensive to run SM, but that’s been true of other classes over the years and we are starting from a much larger base of original production and race conversions. It may be a bit painful and slower than you’d like at times but it will be managed.
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#8
Bench Racer

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There's always Fun Cup racing. A racer from Texas did this 25 hour race, James Rogerson #146 Stand Bridge Motor Sports. Interview at approx. 30:00.

 


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#9
Ron Alan

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A long post that will be criticized for at least its length. But at least its a post. Those have been rare these days. Have you noticed that? The central plaza hasn't been quite the same lately. I don't hear the quartet singing under the gazebo much. Maybe the battery has failed on my hearing aide and my glasses out of date.

Ok...after the 3rd paragraph I skipped to the conclusion...I dont think it summarized or helped me but I had to chuckle! No doubt the banter on here has long stopped...the true characters are long gone...and the young fast kids are smart enough to stay away from this and just go out and win!

 

Jim maintains this site at a loss I'm sure but many still come here for info...can you tell I'm not on facebook?? Maybe thats where the conversation is these days? 

 

As hard as Mazda is pushing the NC...I TOO still think it will be awhile...if ever! Decent donor cars are still out of reach, the basic MANDATORY MAZDA parts you have to buy are more than a complete entry level SM car ready to race. There are far more kids and adults who dream of racing a car looking at how they can do it than those who will just write a check for a $100k+ to start a season.  Too Ralphs point(and Jim)...what current car is going to replace SM?? When SM dies...50/50 chance racing as we know it now will be dead :wacko:


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#10
38bfast

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There's always Fun Cup racing. A racer from Texas did this 25 hour race, James Rogerson #146 Stand Bridge Motor Sports. Interview at approx. 30:00.

 

Bench I think that's the best hope for the future. Purpose built race cars. The OEs just aren't building feasible / cost effective options like they did in the past. In the UK the fun cup cars are very popular as well as the Caterham series. 

 

in 20 years the 1.6 will be 51 years old. 


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#11
chris haldeman

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Great classes create themselves. Spec Miata was not created by Mazda, scca, or any other company. It was also not created with contingency money or corporate pressure. It was created organically by the racers when the 1990 model cars became too old to race in the SSC class. The miata (na, nb) was really the last sporty little car mass produced with manual trans and low cost. With less effort and less intrusion the nc had a chance via the T4 path. Numbers were growing steadily and the cars were real good in that class. Now the new vision of spec mx5 has caused the guys who were running T4 loyal to Mazda to do… new expensive engine, new suspension kit, new radiator and oil cooler, oil cooler adapter/lines, spec ecu, spec wheels, spec tires, mandated brake pads, hell even a spec oil filter.Throughout the past 11 years I have greatly appreciated the support Mazda provides to club racers!! I really hope something happens to restore club racing and continue its growth.
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#12
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I would be more concerned about Racing dying. SM will probably be the last strong hold. Fact is the pool of cars that can be turned into race cars is drastically shrinking. The majority of new cars are SUVs. Many of the new models that may be candidates are getting so complicated that they are very hard to make into race cars. The big push for EVs also presents big changes. Open Wheels numbers are horrible right now. Look around at the next race you're at and see what's racing. It looks more like vintage everyday. Many classes not even making a 3 car field. SRF is adopting a new sequential transmission anding even more cost to the class that just experienced a costly engine upgrade. I was told by on of the SRF prep shops that a brand new SRF with the new box is now in the 65k range.   

 

We also are fighting a cultural battle. The technical expertise to build and maintain a race car is shrinking. The number of people who can turn a wrench is shrinking. Society has deemed working with your hands a booby prize in life. 

 

B-Spec is on the rise do to a lack of options. It's the easiest and cheapest button to push right now. IMHO it's a very sad option of a car to race. 

 

We are also fighting a society that wants instant gratification. Well racing isn't that. It takes way too much work , effort and money. 

 

The next battle for racing will be the EPA or "climate change". How long do you think it will be tolerated for us to burn fossil fuels just for entertainment? 

 

Racing as a whole has much bigger challenges than SM IMHO. The direction of culture and society is our biggest hurdle to come. 

we need to figure out E-sprint racing. 

there are plenty of people interested in racing and high tech cars ... they are all just software nerds, computer and network guys, and they love teslas. but they show up to track days with 60k grand cars pretty regularly. thats more than 3 or 4 years of my racing budget. i like to say that teslas don't compete with other cars, they compete with other hobbies, hobbies that have been stealing people away from cars for a generation: phones, software, video games etc. teslas have a magic power to draw people back into cars, and away from other hobbies.  

the market is there, its just electric club racing. there are a lot issues with electric club racing, but i think in the next 5-10 years these will be sorted out. 

racing will never die. the first thing we did when we made the car was race it against the horse, and the first thing we did when we made an electric car, was racing it against an ICE car. racing will look and sound and feel different, but its all there, power, traction, grip, etc etc. 


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#13
Chris Lefferdink

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I honestly don't think Spec MX5 is a threat to SM. It certainly isn't the biggest threat to SM. I don't think NA/NB chassis availability is the biggest threat, either, though the surge in used car prices is annoying. The biggest threats/pressures to SM (in no particular order) are:

  • Availability of some parts, like hard tops and engine harnesses
  • Issues with certain generations, like the VVT shutoff issue
  • Tire costs (tire cost has attracted a lot of drivers to B Spec)

The good news is none of these threats is insurmountable, but the primary focus of the class should be how does the car/class evolve to mitigate these threats over time. Logical changes have been met with resistance, such as the tire limiting rule, to the detriment of the class. The class needs to be more open to changes and evolution. The growth in B spec is evidence of the positive impact of reducing tire costs. If a reasonable tire budget can attract people to fwd clown cars, imagine what it could do for SM...


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#14
Tom Sager

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I honestly don't think Spec MX5 is a threat to SM. It certainly isn't the biggest threat to SM. I don't think NA/NB chassis availability is the biggest threat, either, though the surge in used car prices is annoying. The biggest threats/pressures to SM (in no particular order) are:

  • Availability of some parts, like hard tops and engine harnesses
  • Issues with certain generations, like the VVT shutoff issue
  • Tire costs (tire cost has attracted a lot of drivers to B Spec)

The good news is none of these threats is insurmountable, but the primary focus of the class should be how does the car/class evolve to mitigate these threats over time. Logical changes have been met with resistance, such as the tire limiting rule, to the detriment of the class. The class needs to be more open to changes and evolution. The growth in B spec is evidence of the positive impact of reducing tire costs. If a reasonable tire budget can attract people to fwd clown cars, imagine what it could do for SM...

Agree.  Tire cost and the VVT issues stand out to me.  Both should be solvable.  If there's an after market hard top that is cheaper and only a slight weight difference stands in the way, then that should be solvable as well.  Your 3 points getting addressed would improve the class.  :thumbsup:


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chris haldeman

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The hard top deal is ridiculous. Mazda sells an aftermarket low cost copy of the hardtop. Yes it is slightly lighter. Who cares. Yes it would slightly lower the center of gravity. Who cares? If anybody driving a spec Miata thinks they can tell the difference on track they need to wake up. Senna couldn’t why could they
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#17
Ernie Cole

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100% agree with those post from above. 

 

I think it would also be great to see a loosening of the rules around keeping all the non-functional stock stuff like the blinker stalks and HVAC controls and stuff. Get rid of the allusion of showroom stock. We are currently building a NA miata for champcar, and its so freeing removing the headlight buckets and gutting the under the dash. No real performance gain, but makes the car so much cleaner and easier to work on. Parked next to my SM, it just make me realize how much crap we have to leave in the cars to be legal.

 

There are tons of older cars still be raced, I think with smart rule changes, SM could stay a strong class for a long time (and hope it does). 


  • Keith Williamson likes this

#18
LarryKing

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I wish there was a low-cost (< $15,000), purpose built, SEALED, spec racer. Sort of a SRF-Legends hybrid that used widely available OEM crate motor/drivetrain/suspension/brakes, steel wheels, modular design with easy to repair corners. Probably can't be done, but I can dream.

 

Senna raced a Spec Miata - who knew?!


2017 - SMSE SEDiv ECR Champion
Donor - Made PayPal donation Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver

#19
Sphinx

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I'll say something controversial - I don't think SMX5 is going to replace SM.  It'll be the FRS/86/BRZ.

 

Honestly, the reason SM will go away is with electrification, which is an existential threat to motor racing.  Before long, we'll be "vintage" racing our SMs, as they age.



#20
Steve Scheifler

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I'll say something controversial - I don't think SMX5 is going to replace SM. It'll be the FRS/86/BRZ.

Honestly, the reason SM will go away is with electrification, which is an existential threat to motor racing. Before long, we'll be "vintage" racing our SMs, as they age.


When the FRS/BRZ collaboration was unveiled the first thing I thought was “this could be the next big spec class”. Then I learned who contributed the engine.

BTW, just me or does the 2022 FRS/BRZ look like a minor makeover of a 1994 Celica GT?
Bona fide - A bonafide Spec Miata driver



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