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Author Topic: Can we make this Spec Miata again?
Jason Saini Verified Driver Series Champ
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After experiencing the parity of the MX-5 Cup over the last two seasons, it has made me yearn for that type of parity in SM again - like it was when there were only 1.6 cars. I have some ideas, and rather than simply writing my letter, I'd like to air them out here - so that once we all think this over, maybe all our letters will look a bit more similar and chances of this may become greater.

I'll start this by saying that I feel this is the best thing for the class - that there isn't a downside. If there are those that wouldn't like to give up their 'advantage' because of whatever car they have or whatever trick they have come up with - I ask you to think twice. You may eventually end up just being the only one out there - and we all know that's not what this class is about. It means something to beat others on equal footing - meaningless to do so with an known advantage. This list of ideas is designed to eliminate these advantages (purposeful or not,) and make this class into something great again.

1. Displacement. There's nothing different about the 1.6 and 1.8 chassis. Everyone with a 1.6 should be allowed to upgrade to a 1.8. There could be a 2-3 year grandfather agreement, where you could still run the 1.6, to allow everyone time to switch. Those who are more competitive can do it immediately. Pretty much everyone will be replacing their engine sometime in the next three years, so make it by Jan 1 of 2011, everyone needs to have made the switch. At that point, you can ditch the restrictor plate - making the class more fun for everyone. See #2 for ways to integrate this electronically.

2. It would be costly and difficult to have everyone swap over to a stock 1.8 harness and computer - so make a spec ECU (Megasquirt comes to mind) and have Topeka work with someone to come up with a spec Calibration. Any tech official with a laptop could check your fuel tables and know that it's right. The Megasquirt would work with the stock harness (with a couple adapters) because you can run on MAP instead of airflow meter. Then all 1.6 and 1.8 cars could lose their AFM's. Megasquirt ECU is around $750, plug and play. There are other choices in that price-range as well. (MBE comes to mind.) Some of these can even be locked, so the program can't be tampered with, making it even more spec. This should be implemented as soon as possible - it would cost everyone, but not much more than a set of tires!

3. Engine wiring harness. Ideally, there should be a spec wiring harness. Something simple, just all the sensors needed from the ECU. It wouldn't plug into the car (other than to get 12v) and would be a true standalone system. A harness like that could be produced for less than $600. Again, this could be teched easily (to make sure no resistors/etc have been added) because it's simple. Also, tech officials could have one on hand to give to cars if they suspect something. I think this should be implemented as soon as possible as well.

4. Diff and ratios. All cars should have the same differential and ratios. With the clutchpack diff going away, everyone should be allowed to go to the 4.3 Torsen (including '94-'95 cars.) It's a spec class, it should have spec gear ratios. Period. Again, give a time period to get this implemented, to let everyone catch up and do the swap at their pace. All 4.1 cars should have to do this immediately.

5. '99's. Once all the pre-'99 cars have converted to the 1.8, and 4.3 diff - then there's no more need for a restrictor plate. Allow the '99 subframes as well, so the older cars can keep up. Then, the choice to go to a '99 will become based on donor car availability and preference of how they look. The ECU program on everyone elses' car can be tuned so the power output matches the '99, and then everyone's restrictor plate can go in the garbage.

Then, we have SPEC MIATA again. I was talking with some SM racers about this over the past couple days, and they all loved the ideas. They were a mixture of 1.6 and 1.8 guys as well.

This allows everyone to compete at their own pace over the next couple seasons, and then slowly it makes it so that everyon'e cars are equal again. The motor builder will still make a difference, but with no AFM's and a spec ECU, it will make that difference less meaningful than it is now.

Please, I urge everyone to use this topic to debate the merits of the above ideas. Let's have an honest, open discussion on how to make this better - and try to keep the discussion both positive, and on-topic.

I love this class, and I'd love to see it get healthy again. I think these ideas can help do that, and I hope others agree!

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-Jason Saini :: Fort Worth, TX
-Team MER :: 2007 MX-5 Cup Champion
-2008 SPEED TC Rookie of the Year!
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Screw Obama/Billary.
Saini for President. [Smile]

Colin MacLean Verified Driver
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All excellent ideas! Although I'm all over the Megasquirt idea (working on getting one in my ITA car) probably more palatable/cost effective would be using the 1.6 harness and accessories on the 1.8 motor. Flyin Miata sells a 1.8 conversion kit for $190. You basically keep all the electronic items from the 1.6 and you can use the 1.8 with no drama at all. It's a very simple swap. Just add the weight, bigger brakes and you're a 1.8. That would avoid the expense of wiring harness and custom ECU.

It's refreshing to see people thinking outside the box [Smile]

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Colin MacLean
Flyin' MacLean Motorsports

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While I like what I read here and would love more parity in the class and agree the easiest way to ensure that would be all the same important parts, I'm going to play the devil's advocate here for a moment.

I see this method of parity as basically increasing the start-up cost for a new car. for everyone. National guys all the way down to the newbie that is just hearing about racing, sees the great racing in SM and just wants a way to get on track for low cost.

Were any of the driver you talked to regional-only mid-packers out there enjoying themselves and the competition (you know, that group that run in the meat of the bell curve for lap times on a given weekend, also makes up the largest % of SM drivers)

for National guys, maybe the $ isn't that much of a factor, but for the middle and other end of the spectrum...

Assuming a 1.6 donor car (disclaimer - I have no idea on actual costs, estimates only. and my math might be wrong)
ADD (just to be legal...)
Diff ~1200
Engine (junkyard -> crate) 200~1500
ECU ~750
harness ~500
99+ susp ~500
Brakes/hubs ~300
radiator?
clutch?
intake ~100

Adding it up thats approximately $3500-4700+ EXTRA start-up cost (thats a ~50% increase for most). Same numbers apply for anyone upgrading, although actual will be higher due to 1.6 specific parts purchased (suspension, comp diff).

move to pre-99 1.8 and you can take ~1.5-2k off of that for the motor, but the initial cost of the car is bit higher.

move to 99+ car and the extra cost goes down to ~1250 (ECU, harness), but initial car cost is much higher.


I can tell you right now that for 15K, there are more cost effective ways to go racing at the regional level and still have a lot of fun. I budgeted 10K to get my car on track, knowing I couldn't afford a motor/diff and some goodies the first year; that extra 4500 would have prevented me from being able to join this great crowd - I would have stayed in my 510 and built it into a killer prod car (instead, I built a sweet SM for less $).

blah blah blah, i know racing is expensive, but do we really want to potentially turn new guys or current racers away due to the increased cost of entry?

just thinking with the original class philosophy/intent box in my mind that got the participation #s as high as it is now...

I encourage people to think on the other side of the box that Saini has shown here. It may not sound like it, but I am.

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Ben Schaut
Schaut Speed Motorsports
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Great post, mean no harm to say it has been said in some form or another since before we called ourselves "National" or "Regional" drivers.

Glad you got the passion, that is really what SM racing is about!

D.B. Cutler Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I made similar suggestions to what Jason's put up here last year but it didn't get much of a response.

However, he's right on the money in that the best way to increase parity is to have all of the cars run the same parts. My feeling is that a great place to start is to get everyone running the same engine and get rid of the trick ECUs.

A few years ago, SRF switched from Renault engines to Ford engines over the course of a few years. I think we could do the same thing. The trick would be to give people a good long time to make the changes so that they can "use up" their current parts. That might help with the start up cost concepts which Ben has raised.

In the long run, the best thing for the class is to make the cars all the same. The only difference would be between the old bodies and the new bodies. You can get rid of that with a minimum weight high enough to cover both.

Chime in boys and girls, it's your class !!

Dwayne Hoover Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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SM was never the leader for entry cost. Obsolete IT cars were the cost leaders in Club Racing.

What SM brought to the table was the best parity per dollar, at an entry point $6-10K cheaper than the nearest "spec" alternative.

When Saini's basic arguments were previously suggested, the movers and shakers stated that SM never was a spec class, was never intended to be a spec class, and generally rejected the assertion that there was/is anything wrong with the current state of SM. I say they were wrong, but ... they wanted what they got and they got what they wanted.

At this point SM's future is to conquest drivers from classes with bigger expenses, bigger disparity, and smaller fields. The cheapskates and newbie growth with median incomes <$100K will divert to time trials, Solo, and IT.

Just the opinion of a guy whose first and only racecar was a Spec Miata, bought right after paying off the student loans [Wink]

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Mark McCallister Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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In 2007 I employed the same logic Mark, so here I am. First race completed last weekend in my '91 with 150+k stock motor. Make upgrading to a 1.8/etc. optional indefinitely and I like the plan. Just like for instance upgrading your exhaust, and makes it cheap for newbies and cheapskates like me to get in, but makes things more spec when we develop the skill and wallet to play with the big boys. That allows the class to grow at the bottom (because it's cheap to get in) and at the top (because it's great parity per dollar). But parity and cost control still have to be guiding principles of the ruleset, or else it goes the way of the Prod. classes.

Are the '90 - '05 chassis really identical? Curb weights are certainly different.

Brian Cates
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Guess I was preaching on the wrong post [Big Grin]

Don't know all the details but I love the idea of parity.

Yes, changing to 1.8l engines will raise costs some in the short run but it sounds like a reasonable solution if we want to make it more of a true spec series, which is what most likely draws most drivers to the class. The fact that SM is relatively affordable helps, but anyone who has raced for a while knows it's not so much how much it costs to get into racing, it's the tires, gas, entry fees and maintenance and crash damage costs that eat your budget up. (So who talked me into buying another 1.6 anyway!)

(Sure like the $150 range for tires in SM, over $300 a tire for the last Spec class I competed in, plus they lasted only half as long!) Talk about cost savings!

As a relatively newcomer to Spec Miata, but not road racing, I certainly agree there is a lot more performance difference between cars then one would think in a spec class. I most recently competed in NASA's Factory Five Challenge and while all cars were not equal, they were a lot closer then SM. What drew me to SM was the car count, the quality of drivers in the series and the thought of competing in a class where the driver and not the car typically determines the outcome of the race.

NASA recently changed the rules in the Factory Five Challenge to assure even more parity. Basically, they specified the motor, etc. and published max horspower and torque numbers, verified on a Dynojet with the same parameters and settings, as well as listed allowable "minor" modifications to equalize the performance difference between engines, transmissions, etc as they came from the factory. NASA can also use DA and dynos if available at the track to help single out non-comforming cars and they still have the option to tear into something if somebody appears to be out of line with everybody else.

Similar rules are in NASA's American Iron and Camaro Mustang Challenge. NASA's Super-Touring and Performance Touring classes also use a max power to weight rule set.

We are in the 21st century! There are tools readily available to check a car's performance potential!

Is there any reason why we would not want to specify the power limits in a "True Spec Class"? After all, that is the bottom line!

Seriously, we specify weight and use scales to check conformance, shouldn't we use dynos and DA as well to check power?

A car's potential performance is directly related to it's power to weight ratio, why check only half of the equation? [soapbox]

Mark Drennan Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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Seems like a really big expense for all current 1.6 owners and a pretty big expense for anyone building a new SM racer.

Is this something to be concerned about?
A) Reduce engine supply - the 1.6 engine represents nearly 1/2 of all miata engines made.
B) Increase engine demand - lots more 1.8's demanded to upgrade current 1.6 cars.

Forgive me for not already knowing why this is such a horrible idea (it's only my second season reading "parity" threads) but what about...

Parity = 1.6 vs 1.6 (SM1) and 1.8 vs 1.8 (SM2)?

-Mark

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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Drennan:
Seems like a really big expense for all current 1.6 owners and a pretty big expense for anyone building a new SM racer.

Exactly, unless the "new build" types want to just start with a '99 in the first place. ($$$)

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Crew Chief, 3D Racing #64, aka Team Scrappy 2.0
3rd place E2, 2009 25 Hours of Thunderhill

Crew Chief, EGR/Miller Motorsports #64, aka Team Scrappy
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Jason Saini Verified Driver Series Champ
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So, what if it were 5yrs for motors and ECU's, two years for differentials? Anyone building a new racecar would just get a newer donor... cost a bit more, but isn't parity worth it?

We all need to face the fact that the 1.6 is not, and cannot be the future of the class. But the future can have any chassis being competitive... There needs to be more modern thinking here.

What about making this optional indefinitely? Then it allows those who are competitive to upgrade, and those who are in it for the fun to keep things status quo. There's no way you can expect to have an $8k racecar and run up front - that is a false dream, SM never could have been this way.

My earlier request for those who oppose this due to an advantage they might lose to think twice also goes for those budget-minded racers who want everyone to race an $8k car. My ideas are designed to try and find some middle ground... have an open mind, and put out constructive ideas that might lead to that middle ground. If my plan is too ambitious or costly, what is a compromise you'd be willing to accept.

Keep the ideas flowing, don't let this just pass... now is the time to start hashing out thee ideas. If you want parity, but don't want to pay for it - than you don't deserve that parity. The goal should be to make that parity affordable and accessible to all those that see it's worth.

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-Jason Saini :: Fort Worth, TX
-Team MER :: 2007 MX-5 Cup Champion
-2008 SPEED TC Rookie of the Year!
-Based at Motorsport Ranch
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Pat Newton Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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quote:
Originally posted by Jason Saini:
My earlier request for those who oppose this due to an advantage they might lose to think twice also goes for those budget-minded racers who want everyone to race an $8k car.

Funny, I don't remember anybody ever saying "everyone" had to race an $8K car. But I don't want to be forced into spending thousands to update my car in the name of pulling the cows back into the barn. Your "optional indefinitely" idea seems to address that, if it can be made to work.

I was dead set against letting the #%&$&%^*$ '99s into the class, but now that they're here you say I don't deserve parity because I don't want to pay for it? I take strong exception to that.

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3rd place E2, 2009 25 Hours of Thunderhill

Crew Chief, EGR/Miller Motorsports #64, aka Team Scrappy
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Dusty Bottoms Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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Make the 99's switch to a 4.1 rear end, lower their weight to 2400, raise the 94-97 to 2375.

There are way too many differences to think that you can switch a 1.6 to a 1.8 economically. You'd be better off buying a 1.8 donor, cutting the cage out of the 1.6, putting the carpets/seats/suspension, etc of the 1.8 into the 1.6, putting the cage and suspension into your 1.8.

I like the sealed ECU idea (I've been proposing it for a while). I think it can be done for a lot less with the stock ECUs. You still have to worry about messing with the input sensors and harnesses, which is the only way the 99 guys can mess with their A/F. Seal the shocks too, hey, as long as we're looking 5 years ahead and switching everyone to 1.8's, why not switch everyone to SEALED 1.8's in 5 years? [Smile]

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"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

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quote:
Originally posted by Antonio Garza:
...hey, as long as we're looking 5 years ahead and switching everyone to 1.8's, why not switch everyone to SEALED 1.8's in 5 years? [Smile]

[thumbsup] [thumbsup]

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Ed

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I agree Antonio, why not buy a 1.8L donor and put your suspension, cage, and safety equipment in the new car. Forcing the 1.6s to upgrade to a 1.8 is not the answer to make them more competitive. I also don't think Megasquirt PNP ECUs are the answer for spec racing either -- I have 2, one for a 1.6 and one for a 1.8 and they are not robust enough, nor is the software robust enough yet for racing. Not to mention, you pretty much have to have a wideband to get it to run right, so thats another 300 bucks you have to factor in. And the tech support with the MSPNP is only supported via email right now -- like that would work at the race track. Their (DIYautotune) infrastructure would have to grow, and what if they don't want to grow their business that way?

As suggested, why not have a split class, SM1 and SM2? I'm starting my second season with a 1.6L car I built myself, that is finally getting sorted and turning into a pretty good car. Now you want to suggest I switch to a 1.8L motor, upgrade the brakes, add the subframe braces, get a new ECU, all just so I can run midpack again? Rrrright, I wasn't budgetting for that.

I think its really cool you're thinking outside the box to create more parity. But I think your suggestions are a little overkill, especially for the low budget racer like me. Granted I feel the class will eventually evolve into a class full of 1.8s, and thats fine. If I were starting a new build, it would definitely be a 1.8, probably a '99. But let it evolve. I'd adjust the rules and play more with weights, restrictors, seal the ECUs on the 99+. I also like the idea of the HP rule. As explained above, other classes are doing it and I think with good success.

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Drago Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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While I think the intentions are good, there are many holes in the plan. This is an expensive plan that may or may not achieve more parity at the front of the fields, the mid to back guys will certainly fall further behind. If mid pack guys don't want to blow what I estimate to be about 7500-10000 into there 1.6 cars to make these changes, to be competitive at the front of the field. The fact is, we are pretty close on parity at the front of the field now, So what we are doing is adding another 4-5k to a 30k build, in an attempt to achieve parity, I wonder if the cars at the front will be any closer? I can assure you that the guys at the front and the guys willing to spend the money will pull even further away from the guys who are running in this class for fun with a 10-15k car. We will encounter what we fear most, all of us with with 35k cars and programmable ecus and same motors and gears etc will have 4 cars to race with. We have a class that encompasses these changes now, ITA and ITS.
I do think the same gear is a good idea, I proposed it myself. But I disagree with Antonio, the gear needs to be a 4.3, it is a better gear, same as the 1.6 and by the end of this year, I imagine the number of 99's may outnumber the 94/97 cars? I don't think it would be that expensive either, as 94/97 guys would just have to buy a gear set and bearings.

I wonder how many 1.8 guys would go for the change in gear ratio? Poll perhaps?

--------------------
Jim Drago
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Dusty Bottoms Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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No, the 99+ need to change the gear because that is a better equalizer for the extra 200cc than adding weight or restrictors. You know what I'm talking about Drago, you've seen my spreadsheet. [Wink]

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"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

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My take is that while Jason's plan seems doable, why not spit the class and as an interum solution?

Allow the 1.6 cars to run in either SM1 or II and allow the gen two cars (sans restrictor plates and weight penalty) to run only in the II class?

It strikes me that this accomplished two goals. First, it gives a longer life to to the herd of 1.6 cars out there and allows the concept of low cost racing to continue - while preserving some value of the old cars. Second, it eliminates the limitation on the gen II car's performance - (that only exists to create parity)

In many regions SM class size is reaching the point of overwhelming track capacity. Where that's not at issue, the two groups can be tracked together but scored separately.

Looks like a win-win to me, but I'm guessing I may get an education as this thread continues, so please be kind to an ageing SM pilot.
Rick

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quote:
Originally posted by Antonio Garza:
No, the 99+ need to change the gear because that is a better equalizer for the extra 200cc than adding weight or restrictors. You know what I'm talking about Drago, you've seen my spreadsheet. [Wink]

Yup, Antonio is right on this one. I did some analysis independent of his work and came to the same conclusion. The issue with the 99's is the ECU and the extra 200CC. If you over lay the plots it is very clear that the 99 ECU does a much better job of managing the power across the band than the 1.8's. If you add the 4.1 gear to the 99's it really equalizes the cars. You can then lower the weight on the 99's to about 2400 as Antonio suggested and you are pretty close. If you do the analysis it is really compelling.

The other issue that should be addressed long term is a sealed ECU. If you do that you can help smooth the power on the 1.6's and the 1.8's to match the 99's.

If you combine the two above you end up with all the cars within 100#'s and very close on power at any point. I would say the 4.1 in the 99's gets you about 75% of the way to parity and the ECU another 15% or so.

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Z Brothers Racing / East Street Auto

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Ara Verified Driver Series Champ
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Sealed engine AND ECU combo would be the way to go if we can get momentum on this. Once you have that, the rest of the drivetrain and chassis can be spec'd to single part numbers (everyone on the same diff, subframe, etc). At that point, the differences between all the years can be brought down further and further. Whatever ECU choice is made, it needs to be "techable".

And Mark, I agree with you. That was what attracted me to SM back in 1999: best spec value (that plus I hate the SRF drivetrain, sorry...).

Ara

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IMHO (I'm not JD), Karl had the answer to this a long time ago. SM II.

SM I = only 1.6l cars.
SM II = 94+ cars.

There was never a good reason to allow the 94+ car into this class. There are plenty of 90-93 donors.

The 94+ cars need a sand box to play in. Let that be SM II. It's a win for everyone.

Requiring an engine swap just to get started (adding at least $4k to a budget build), will kill the class by limiting new builds.

Split the class and we'll still have two of the most well attended classes.

Want spec? Start with a spec donor.

-Kyle

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quote:
Originally posted by Qik Nip:
My take is that while Jason's plan seems doable, why not spit the class and as an interum solution?

If a plan like this goes forward, I believe the class will split itself. You'll see some (many?) 1.6 owners running to other sanctioning bodies that are willing to offer a class like the "SM1" described.

We already have a class up here in ICSCC (Conference) called Club Spec Miata that looks somewhat like SM1. I can't remember if CSM is 1.6-only, though. I haven't yet felt the need to run in CSM instead of SM, but if the SM rules change such that I have to make my car into a "'94-'97 with a July 89 build date" then I would take a serious look at it.

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Couple things... you can't use axle ratio to achieve parity - the difference in gearing makes the cars better on some tracks vs. others, and that's not spec. Weight, restrictor, etc. are the only way.

I understand those with a cost concern, and for that I say allow the following:

1. Never make the switch mandatory, people have the option of keeping their 1.6's. Make the 1.8 swap legal for those that want to save their chassis investment, and upgrade their car.

2. Still make the ECU mandatory (2-3 years), it can be used for parity (1.6's and 1.8's get a different program.) Give the 1.6's cams or something so they are around 130whp (1.8 unrestricted.)

3. The diff ratio needs to be mandatory, but the 1.6's can still use the clutch diff for let's say 5yrs until the supply runs out. People can upgrade to the Torsen whenever, and all first gen 1.8's need to go to 4.3's - (effective 2009.)

4. On the people concerned about new build cost, just start with a 1.8 donor. It adds some cost, but less than you think (typically less needs to be replaced on newer donors.) You'll only have to upgrade to the 4.3 diff and ECU - those would be the only two cost adders. Let's say $1k more for a 1.8 donor, $750 for the ECU and $1k for the torsen/4.3 swap. Is that extra $3k really a deal-breaker?

It all depends on your goals with the class... the bar has already been set for performance/cost/etc. I'm trying to bridge that gap. By having a spec ECU, the 5hp ECU's that are currently floating around out there are a thing of the past, and the $7k motor become less of a factor (5hp pro motor and 5hp ECU makes a 10+hp gap, this ECU idea cuts that gap in half for around a grand.)

Keep the ideas flowing - and Pat, I'm not here to offend anyone. I'm trying to help by proposing solutions, and getting the input of others... I hope you can see, I'm taking what you suggest to heart. Don't let you bitterness from what has happened prevent you from leaning toward a middle ground that's better for everyone.

As has been mentioned here, the bulk purchase of this ECU/Harness idea could cut costs down hugely for the swap. Also as has been suggested, maybe Megasquirt could create an ECU without the interface, or make an SCCA-only coded interface. People shouldn't fear electronics, they can help make this class better.

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Even if you split the class you will still not have parity within the two classes unless you make changes to "spec" parts better. I guarantee that my 1990 will not win because I only have 12k into it. I would need to do a lot of upgrading to challenge for a win in SM1. Isn't this the reason SSM was started? Better parity in motor performance.

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I've always enjoyed the Grassroots Motorsports magazine low-budget race challenges....where you document that you spent $2008 total on your car. May the best $2008 car win!

Along those lines, it would be fun, but complicated, to create a ruleset that dinged you time for all the individual high-dollar bits and pieces you've got on your car.

If you won with a high dollar car, you'd have to win by a time-margin that exceeded the time dings to keep your win.

This way, the big wallet guys can have their race and the low-budget guys can drive their cars to the best of their abilities. The guy/gal who crosses the finish line with the best driving skill to car cost ratio wins!

A half-baked idea...but maybe there's something there.

For me, I just want to race against back-markers and mid-packers, and attempt increasingly fast and consistent lap times. I think that the vast majority of SM racers are like me. I knew going into this that I wouldn't have the funding, experience, or dedication to run at the front.

I like SM because it is as cheap as racing a full-sized car can get, and Miatas are reliable and fun to drive.

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I think that a stable rule set that continues to make minor adjustments between years is still the best option.

I think that the more modifactaions we allow and the more complicated building a car becomes the fewer new racers we will get.

A lot of people get into this with the delusion that it will be cheap and easy, but then have soo much fun and get hooked on it that they stay and tolerate the higher costs.

Just my 2 cents.

Mike

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Come out and watch a So Pac region race. The spread in qualifying between 1st and 10th is about 2 tenths of a second. Thats pretty dang close. And of the "normal" top 5 we have 1 2001, 1 1999, 1 1994, and 2 1.6 cars. And the top 3 each race are never the same (most of the time the top 3 are 1.6 cars). The rules are fine. Well prepared legal setups for each car are very equal.

Now the illegal versions of the different years are another story. Seems the ideal cheater car is the 94-97, but the car only gets you so far....

With that said I have to agree that there is no reason that a 1.6L car should not be able to install a 1.8L engine and abide by the 94-97 rule set. The 1.6L cars are already allowed to use a lot of the components such as the 94+ braces, why not allow them to convert?

Same deal should apply for 2001+ cars to install the 1999-2000 engines without VVT if the owner would like. Seems like most the 2001 and later cars get a nice power drop in the high end and could benifit from the non VVT swap, but after they have been "developed" further im sure the pro motors will cure that [fight] [banghead]

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quote:
Originally posted by Chad L.:
I guarantee that my 1990 will not win because I only have 12k into it. I would need to do a lot of upgrading to challenge for a win in SM1.

Chad:
I don't know that's necessarily true. Admittedly, it may be I live in a less competitive area for SM, than you, but my '91 with a crate motor, and a total build cost of about $14k has two firsts, a second and has two thirds in the last two seasons.

Admittedly the first three years were a bit more lean with just one podium, but that to me reflects the learning side of accumulating racecraft skills and understanding SM set up.
Rick

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[ [/qb][/QUOTE]Chad:
I don't know that's necessarily true. Admittedly, it may be I live in a less competitive area for SM, than you, but my '91 with a crate motor, and a total build cost of about $14k has two firsts, a second and has two thirds in the last two seasons.

Admittedly the first three years were a bit more lean with just one podium, but that to me reflects the learning side of accumulating racecraft skills and understanding SM set up.
Rick [/QB][/QUOTE]

Rick I can tell you that in the SFR region that it is pretty true. If any of the front running guys are brave they will tell you what they have in their cars.(never mind, wives may be watching this forum) [shame] [duck]

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I'm definately not in favor of splitting the class between SM1 and SM2. If that's the choice I'd rather that we keep working towards parity the way we are currently. The SCCA already has way too many classes.

My suggestion would be to have a common ECU and flywheel for the 1.8L along with a common rear end gear. You would have to adjust the weights between the 94-97 cars and the 99s since I think the 99 bodies are heavier. Then if we gave 1.6L guys the option of going to the 94-97 1.8L package when they need a new engine we'd be getting close. At least you would only have three packages to adjust relative to each other rather than five.

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When I first started dabbling in SM (back in '02) I was under the assumption it was a Spec class. I disagree with the idea of things that meet the letter of the law but not the spirit of the class. I didn't keep up with those guys' spending and while I'm a MUCH better driver than I was back then, my car is mid-pack at best these days.

That's frustrating.

I'm doing some engine shopping right now & on the best budget I'm going to spend $2k to have a used engine with a good head (and have to sell my motorcycle to finance it). I believe a very large part of our community is just like me and we race rather than bowl.

I love the idea of a true spec class. I love Miatas (I've played with them since '94). We're lucky that SRF's are so ugly & sound like tractors or more of us would start looking over there [Wink]

The parity in NASA's Spec E30 has been fun to watch; they are now where we were years ago.

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it seems to me that from everyone that has responded to Jason's initial post, we are all over the map when it comes to what should be done to make SM more of a spec class.

And there are also a LOT of different places/ways to race a Miata. SCCA National/regional, NASA, MidWest council SM/SMT to name the few that I am familiar with around my area. each has their own championship, but it seems that the 2 main 'big-little times' are SCCA National and NASA. The rest are sort of like feeder series (I do NOT mean to offend anyone with that comment, it comes from my view of what happens in the groups I've run and the significant cross-over between groups)

So I'd like to add a proposal for SCCA / NASA:
(Based on an the apparent greater performance potential for the 1.8L and 99+ cars):

SCCA National (and maybe NASA?) -gear towards 1.8L and ultimate parity.
Allow the 1.6 to swap up to the 1.8. Allow same subframes/susp/diff as the 99+. same weight, no restrictors, sealed ECU and whatever else is determined to be needed for parity would be required. note the engine/susp upgrades are not required, but sealed ECU for 1.8L should be. basically Jason's initial ideas, but optional (and a good idea if you want to be up front)

SCCA Regional/NASA/other clubs - keep the rules as they are today, allow the national cars to run with todays restrictors and the spec ECU, adjust weight up as necessary for Diff/susp changes to keep performance of the non 1.6L cars close to the 1.6s. idea would be to keep these cars with similar performance potential over a full race, so different weights/power/gearing/etc OK.

What do you all think? remember that there is already a tire diff between nat and reg and NASA and SMT and ..., so why not add these?...

it's sort of splitting into SM-N and SM-R, but both cars can still run in both 'series' a 1.6 may not be competitive in National and the 1.8s will be slower in Regional trim than National trim. keeps the door open for new guys to build cars with similar cost to today, and gives racers nice stepping stones to get up to national level.

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Nigel,

Good points all. That said, I built my 1.6 with the understanding that it "could" be competitive in a National. Any plan that obsoletes the 1.6's by making us replace motors that we have already bought or built is not a great idea IMHO. Besides, something as simple as making the 99's run a 4.1 and adding some weight to the 1.8's would be a huge increase in parity for much less cost. Sealed ECU's are a great idea BTW!

Maybe the writing really is on the wall for the 1.6. I hope not, but that may be the case.

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I agree with the same motor and diff rule. Why can't the rule go into effect in 2 years stating the 1.8 94-97 motor looses the rp. Anyone running up front will change over thier cars. There is no reason why the 1.6 and vvt cars cant switch to the same motor. Once you have switched the motor and gear you are allowed to take the rp off. You would also be allowed to run whatever weight is allowed for the new sm.

Guys running on a budget will just not be competative until they do the switch. There should never be a rule not allowing 1.6 or vvt motors with a rp. We don't want to shrink the amount of cars allowed. That being said there will be a lot of used 1.6 and vvt sunbelts for sale.haha - for the budget guys.

Also the crate motor rule is the best yet. That rule should go into effect around the same time stating that if you have a confirmed crate 1.8 from mazda you are allowed to drop say 50-100lbs? These rules should go into effect with no mandatory day. That way as stuff breaks you just put the new rule part on. If you want to run up front and you blow your pro motor you just spend your money on a quick, crate, rear end, wheight reduction.


Every SM driver should be made to bring one extra ecu with him to the race. All ecu's get taken out of the cars and swapped. Say 20 cars have a choice of 40 ecu's. That's the ecu you keep until the next race. Where the swap takes place again. Then the ecu's are numbered and you sign for it or something. They get brought and swapped at every race.

It would be a lot of work policing the different configurations but that would get easier over the years. Once we get rid of the pro motors prices for the cars will go down and more people would join. I personally don't care about the pro motors but it does suck that you can buy your way to the top that easily. Also, I think splitting into two classes would really suck. The field size and cost is what draws people. Thats why I'm here.

Once everyone has converted there would be flocks of 89-2005 miata's all running the same motor from mazdaspeed and rear gear. That would be sweet. The only way I would agree to race two SM races is if the field was so large that they had to split it into the top 40 and bottom 40.
Jake

Oh, and one more thought. I always thought it was boring when the family went to Malibu Grand Prix and I got too big of a lead. I would slow down and let my sister's and mom pass just to repass them a lap later. That was the fun part.

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quote:
Originally posted by Casey Z:
Nigel,

Good points all. That said, I built my 1.6 with the understanding that it "could" be competitive in a National. Any plan that obsoletes the 1.6's by making us replace motors that we have already bought or built is not a great idea IMHO. Besides, something as simple as making the 99's run a 4.1 and adding some weight to the 1.8's would be a huge increase in parity for much less cost. Sealed ECU's are a great idea BTW!

Maybe the writing really is on the wall for the 1.6. I hope not, but that may be the case.

Agree totally. I don't want to be legislated from the front and be "forced" to upgrade. I want to choose to upgrade at an appropriate time to the model year of my choosing.

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ok -- let's make the cars the same -- 1.6 spec [Smile]

I like that better as I will not have to change crap

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William Keeling a.k.a. Willie the Tard

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I think we have to keep the Regional and National rules the same. If you regulate somebody's car into being a just a "regional car" then you've ruined the value of that person's car. Just ask anybody who owns a CFF what their car is worth relative to a regular FF.

As an owner of a 1.6L car, I want to be able to run in either a National or a Regional and be competitive.

We have to be very careful about what we do with changes to the rules and keep everyone in mind since we all have money invested.

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I guess this is more of an opinion than hard facts but I’ve been racing SM for the past 6 years and it has changed from a regional quasi ITA and SSB class to a highly popular national class in SCCA. At the same time, it has also become very popular in NASA. The basic formula is very appealing and the reason why I joined but it has had and still having growing pains. The parity between the cars is close with the given rule set. Some years seem to favor certain track layouts more than others but each year is still good fun to drive. The primary issue, as I see it, is that it is difficult to tech all of the different flavors of a SM. Even though the pre ’99 cars look the same, some years have a trick that is not applicable to other years. If you take the “rule bender” out of the equation, then most of the issues just go away. But the “rule bender” will always be there in some form or another.

So both the easiest and hardest way to fix SM is to stringently enforce the current rules. Now the real dilemma, (a) most SM racers are just club racers out to have fun, getting your car torn down after the race is not fun. (b) most of the tech officials are volunteers and do not know the specific non-legal tricks and really do not want to mess with tearing down cars. (c) the regional and national events that I’ve attend, the tech officials did not have the correct tools to do any serious compliance checking, rather, they check weight and nomex socks. On a good day, tech checks the alternator to make sure it is really charging. Note that the cheating problem is not specific to SM, just seems to be getting more attention than the other classes.

Just because one shows up at the track does not guarantee that they will be competitive. There are many factors including set-up skill and driving skill. If one year is really superior to the others, then the class will slowly migrate to the better car. If one selects to maintain their less competitive model year (which I have done), then the reward is lower operating cost for a heck of a good time. And on rain days I usually do very well. The primary problem is that some assume that the only way to stay competitive is to bend the rules and push the gray area of the rules. And others out right cheat.

On a related topic, why is the guy caught cheating (even if a small thing like missing restrictor plate or slightly out of tolerance cam) is the victim and the guy who files the protest is the bad and mean person? Seems backwards to me but I digress.

In summary, IMHO, the primary problem in SM is people bending and breaking the rules. The solution is for the club leadership to have the balls to stringently enforce the current rules. (once again, NASA seems to be taking a proactive stance) If the word gets out that every top 10 car is check for things like gear ratios, coating on moving parts and exhaust parts, compression, cams, wiring harness, ECU, etc… then the racers and builders will clean up their act. The price that everyone will pay is that it will take some of the fun out of club racing. Oh, and the cost of cheating will go up which is a very good thing. The bad part is that some will still cheat.

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The front runners will always run up front though. If they are great drivers they will make it up there by themselfs in the worst car. If they have money they can pay to have the best set up money can buy ans have an advantage that way. Maybe they are a mix of both. I just think that 8k is really stupid for 20hp. What a waste of money. Wouldn't you rather save that money for a second car or more seat time? I just feel bad for some of you guys. I'm not saying don't spend it on racing just not 20hp. Hell, a $5 part from home depot will do that on my Mazdaspeed Miata!

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quote:
Originally posted by jacob300zx:
The front runners will always run up front though.

Maybe.

quote:

If they are great drivers they will make it up there by themselves in the worst car.

Not true. In a good car, maybe. But this brings up a very important point. The definition of a "good" car is constantly changing. Prep gets better, rules change, etc. We should be focused on minimizing the gap between well prepared cars from each model year, not the difference between the front runners and the worst car. Two totally separate issues in my mind. I think that is kind of the heart of the matter Jason was trying to address.

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I would say there are few drivers in SM that could overcome a 6-8 HP deficit and win a National race that was moderately attended.
Jim

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You could consider a return to Regional Forever.

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Bill,

Are you nuts ? And miss a chance to tow 18 hours to a regional track in the middle of the country during a cold rainy time of year for nearly two weeks ! Why would anyone want to miss out on THAT ? [rolling on floor laughin]

Sorry, sorry, couldn't help myself. Bassetts are famous for getting off their leads and biting people...

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Having just recently bought a 1.6L car all I can say is this is just, well, a bit depressing.....

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A story from the Karl Files:

Years ago the state wanted to increase revenue. They noticed that there were 200,000 people with personalized plates on their cars paying $50 extra a year. The state concluded that if they raised the price to $100, they would generate another $10,000,000 in revenue. Guess what happened?

Over half dropped their plates and the state's revenue went down.


Splitting the class will increase overall car counts for a number of reasons that have been discussed before.

I'm not running this year because I don't like the formula.


1600 owners:

Understand how SM started and repeat history. Pick a name....XSM, SM1600, SM16, etc. and write a rule set. You can run SCCA regionally until you have the numbers to apply for national status. Championship races and series can be organized easily enough. Interested? Someone create a new topic.

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quote:
Originally posted by Drago:
I would say there are few drivers in SM that could overcome a 6-8 HP deficit and win a National race that was moderately attended.
Jim

Exactly, if everyone runs crate motors the same guys will probably be up front because that would be the difference in crate motors. They would just have more competition for the spots. What I'm trying to get at is they would start spending their money on other parts to go fast. That won't help them near as much as a pro motor would but it would still help. Crate motors, equal weight, and same gearing would take a lot of excuses off the table and leave setup and driver talent as the main factor.

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl:


1600 owners:

Understand how SM started and repeat history. Pick a name....XSM, SM1600, SM16, etc. and write a rule set. You can run SCCA regionally until you have the numbers to apply for national status. Championship races and series can be organized easily enough. Interested? Someone create a new topic.

SCREW THAT ! We've already fought that battle and have worked just as hard as guys running 1.8L engines to make this a great class. You've got a lot of nerve to even suggest that !

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For the benefit of you guys advocating "upgrading" from a 1.6 to a "1.8 spec" (in my opinion, that would be a 99 spec), this is what you'd have to do:

Front shock absorber and coil spring suspension

* Reducing roll speed by improving damping force and setting suspension geometry appropriately by changing the tie rod end ball joint installation position of the front knuckle eliminate sudden over steering when approaching the cornering limit. In addition, cornering performance is obtained from low to high gravitational force range.

Crossmember

* The front crossbar has been modified, improving strength without increasing weight. Accordingly, shaking caused by radial force variation of tires during high speeds and trembling sensation caused by the road surface has been greatly reduced.
* In order to improve straight ahead stability by increasing the caster trail, the lower arm installation position has been moved forward 2.1mm and the upper arm installation has been moved backward 3mm.
* In order to reduce the amount of floating roll of the inner wheel by lowering the roll center height, the front lower arm installation position has been lowered 5.7mm
* When only the caster trail is enlarged to improve straight ahead steering stability, it is possible that steering response during turning may worsen. However, the steering gear mount on the new MX5 has been changed, eliminating poor steering response.


Rear crossmember
The rear crossbar has been modified in the same way as the front crossbar improving strength and substantially reducing shaking and trembling sensation

Driveline/axle features

* Modified front knuckle shape to restrain the toe variation. (tie-rod end installation point has been raised 7.1mm)
* Modified rear knuckle shape to widen the tread. (deeper by 5mm)
* Modified driveshaft length from 767.3-777.3mm to 772.6-782.6mm
* Revised Torque sensing LSD. (six thrust washers added to increase the bias in the coast direction)


Manual Transmission

* Shift pattern has been changed
* The 2nd and 3rd gears have been reconfigured to improve synchronization. (increased chamfer surface area contact on 2nd/3rd gear to hub sleeve)


Steering gear

* Clampling plate and rubber have been abolished for gear housing side
* A steering gear mounting part has been attached to the gear to increase the mounting rigidity and improve the wheel response to the operation of the steering wheel.


Body panels--improved torsional strength

* Tunnel side junction has been enlarged and its panels have been made thicker from 1.2mm to 2.3mm
* The tunnel gusset has been enlarged and its panels have been made thicker (1.2-->2.3mm)
* Front pillar reinforcement has been enlarged and its panels have been made thicker (1.0-->1.8mm)
* Cross section of the side sill reinforcement has been lengthened
* The panels of the hinge gusset have been made thicker (1.0--2.0mm)
* Side sill gusset has been added (2.3mm)

Note that those are just differences between 97 and 99 cars, I do not know for sure all the changes between the other years of cars.

It would be silly to try to upgrade...we already have a spec class...a 99 spec class. And the 4.3 vs. 4.1 rear ratio is worth 100lbs, not 50lbs. Drago. If you do think an upgrade is the way to go, you'll effectively split the class, because it doesn't make $ sense to spend that money to upgrade...people will just build a new car...where will the old 1.6's go? A new class...ITA...?

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"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

Casey Z Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
MegaModerator

Region: MidDiv
Car #: 13
Year : 92
Posts: 2873
Status: Offline
Icon 1 posted  Profile for Casey Z     Edit/Delete Post  Report this post to a Moderator

Hey Jim, looks like Antonio can do math too. [Big Grin]

And he is right. [Wink]

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Z Brothers Racing / East Street Auto

Casey Z - 1.6 Kettle
MidDiv National #13

 
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