three-plus cars for four days of
testing on three tires. It was epic. My
monkey-butt is still healing (TMI).
Each driver drove each setup on
all three versions of Spec Miatas: NA
1.6L, NB 1.8L, and NB VVTi (the 1.6L
handled best, the VVTi had the torque,
and the 1.8L split ‘em right down the
middle). The amazing crew swapped
shocks relentlessly. You have never seen
so much corner weighting! #respect.
The planning, the execution, the
mega-lapping; no, I never got tired of
it. I’m insatiable, and I think I speak for
my co-testers when I say they loved
it too. Except my bottom really hurt
by the wrap of day four. But it was
a constantly fascinating experience
to try so many shock setups back-to-back on fresh tires – and old tires,
too. We did it all. It was incredibly
thorough. Bravo, Mazda!
Fact is, every shock was far superior
to the current marshmallow setup.
Though I must admit, the current spec
we tried felt much better than most of
the SMs I’ve had the pleasure to drive in
the wild. Most felt a lot less controlled,
like maybe they were worn out. Or
perhaps it was the bump-stop effect.
“Imagine a Spec Miata with
proper control of those springs!
It was a revelation”
time you will be driving with far more
control on tires that hold their grip
longer. The proper competition damping
allows for the cars to be run up off
the bump stops, where that excellent
Miata suspension will be allowed to
work as designed, also reducing wear
and damage to components formerly
slammed by the bump stops.
Hitting bottom causes a sudden
great increase in the spring rate, and
a sudden loss of traction as a result.
The Penskes reduce or eliminate this
effect, making the car much easier
to drive quickly, and less sensitive to
setup. The average mid-pack and back
drivers (you know, like, 40th to 80th,
right, Spec Miata?) will benefit the
most from the greater control, while
all will appreciate the savings from the
longevity of all the suspension, and
the way the tires stay fast longer.
We’re shocking Spec Miata, and it’s
about time! You are going to love it.
ONE LESS BUMP
(ABOVE) Spec Miata
competitors will enjoy
and durability as
the class moves
to a race shock
package in 2019.
Led very effectively and with great
care by David Cook, we eliminated one
by one, an America’s Got Shocks damp-off. Preferences were surprisingly
consistent among us wheelmen.
Imagine a Spec Miata with proper
control of those springs! It was a
revelation. Suddenly, the springs
don’t feel squishy and dumb anymore.
There is support, “platform.” Yeah, I’m
excited. On these new options, the Spec
Miata felt, finally, like a real racecar. No
compromise. Yeah, we all accepted it
as part of the affordable price, but the
original setup always left me frustrated.
There were several choices that
were really effective, like picking
among Miss Americas or Thunder
From Down Under, but factors like cost,
supply, support, and value led to an
obvious winner: the Penske. This shock
was constantly at the top, under all
conditions and on all tires, and even in
the rain, which threatened constantly
but only doused us a couple of times
(the forecast was always dismal).
Yes, it costs more than your former
setup, but it’s worth four times more!
Being a real-deal race shock, it will last
twice as long or more, and the whole