The Miata makes one feel like a realracecar driver, even when driving downto the grocery store in a stock one,which I daily drove back in 2014, too.
And, of course, Mazda’s powerfulsupport of racing, SCCA in particular,is another important factor in thecars being the most road raced ofany other brand. It’s also no surprisethat the beloved MX- 5 Miata isthe most-raced car in the world,including the pro training groundBattery Tender Global MX- 5 Cup.
The newest version, the ND, recentlyreceived an engine upgrade that I feltwas sorely needed, yearning for redlinelike a real sports car should. The ND1engine came nearly straight from thesedans and faded as the revs climbed,but the ND2 got a proper 7,500rpm,
181hp sporting powerplant that reallyheated up the personality of this star ofour SCCA world. After all, it is the SportsCar Club of America, and the Miatais one of the greatest of all time.
Stockers like me had to recalibrate.
After staying up all night prepping
the car for its first race at Roebling
Road in Savannah, Ga., I roared into
Turn 1 first lap and cranked the wheel,
promptly spinning and messing up
my careful alignment. Exactly a year
later, Van Cleef did exactly the same
thing. We front-drivers were in no
way expecting such response.
Another sign of the Miata’s potential
that weekend was that I could run
within a second of my wife Linda’s
Mitsubishi Eclipse Turbo in Showroom
Stock A. While it would horizon the
little roadster on the long front
straight, that handling balance would
reel the understeering Eclipse back in
through the never-ending sweepers
that make up the rest of the circuit,
surprisingly so. “We’re really on to
something here,” I recall thinking.
At Freedom Autosport, the NC
Miatas we ran in 2014 were killer cars.
Allowed the same size tires as most of
the competition and a race-prepped
engine, the Little Mazda That Could
took on Caymans and BMWs and
won a bunch of races – not on pure
speed, either, but because they did
“ I roared into Turn1 first lap and cranked
the wheel, promptly spinning and
messing up my careful alignment”
THE ANS WER
Spec Miata’s successis unprecedented inmodern SCCA ClubRacing, boastingpacked fields atRegional races,Majors, SuperTours (ABOVE),and the Runoffs.
not slow down. The lightweight andbalanced handling paid off at theend of a long run. While the teamgot sick and tired of hearing mecomplain about the oversteer in theirsetup, with the big tires and Andrew’scounter-steering talent, it worked.
Miatas today make up anastounding percentage of everySCCA grid because they have provento be such good cars on track, andbecause of the nationwide success ofthe Spec Miata class we know so well.Sure, they don’t have a lot of power,but don’t look down your nose untilyou’ve tried one. The Miata is incrediblyenjoyable and satisfying to race. Thatlight weight and reliability keep thecosts super low. And, with a low-mountracing seat, almost everyone fits.
I recently had the chance tocompete in a long stint at an endurancerace in a near-Spec Miata. It had beena while. It all came rushing back to mequickly, though. The instant steeringresponse, the feel of the front and rearworking in harmony, carving the linethrough the amazing rollercoasterride that is Oregon Raceway Park(don’t miss this gem). I loved the drive.