Easy Autocross Prep | Garage Rescue Miata

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
May 6, 2021

Photography Credit: Dave Green

Step 1: Start with a Miata.

Step 2: Go autocross.

That's pretty much been our M.O. In fact, even when autocrossing our 1992 Mazda Miata 15 years ago, that was pretty much it–pack light and go run. Here’s a photo from BITD

Today, it’s the same story.

We start pre-event prep with the basics: checking fluids levels, torquing lugs, and setting tire pressures. Fluids were recently changed while the car was at BSI Racing

We clean the windshield. We also remove anything loose from the car, including our driver-side floor mat. Grab a helmet and magnetics. 

Pack a cooler with waters and a sammich, grab our Autoxpix mask, and we're good to go.

Fuel up as needed. We have a Sunoco nearby, so we can get some Top Tier gasoline

After a bit of a hiatus, our Miata just ran three autocross events–a “pointless” event with the Martin Sports Car Club at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center followed a week later by a two-day event with Central Florida Region SCCA on the Daytona International Speedway kart track.

In between, we participated in the Orlando Roadsters monthly meet at Ace Café Orlando.

We're running in the SCCA’s new Xtreme Street B class, basically an anything-goes class for cars on 200tw tires. We’re a bit outgunned regarding horsepower–turbo Miatas are the norm here–but we like the simplified rules. 

Some findings after those three events:

  • Everyone should autocross a Miata. 
  • Stiffening the front Konis helps increase traction in the rear.
  • Chassis feels composed, and the car looks good in the photos. 
  • Power, while not overwhelming, feels good–thank you, Ed Senf, for that tuning 20 years ago. 
  • Our Falken Azenis RT660 tires remain happy through all of our runs. 
  • Small clank from the rear, but that noise has been there for years. We’ll investigate.
  • Driver’s a little rusty.
  • Soon we’ll report from back in the garage. 

Photography Credit: Dave Green

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View comments on the GRM forums
thashane GRM+ Memberand New Reader
5/5/21 9:23 a.m.

*whispers* zoom zoom

hunter47 New Reader
5/5/21 9:48 a.m.

Nice! How many street miles on the RT660 and how many laps done? Any tire spraying in between runs? 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/5/21 10:14 a.m.

Good questions.

No spraying because that's extra work, no one else was doing it, and the tires didn't seem to need it. (Also, it was just one driver.) 

First event featured five 30-second runs.

Second event featured four 50-second runs.

Third event featured five 50-second runs.

All were on pavement. 

Since the car has been back on the road--and on the Falken RT660 tires--it as covered 348 miles. 

Front and rear tires currently measure between 7/32 and 8/32. They come molded at 8/32.


**Small edit: I got red-flagged during a run at Daytona, so maybe add in half a run. 

hunter47 New Reader
5/5/21 10:17 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

This is good, even though the car my RT660s are going on is definitely a half ton heavier, this gives me even more confidence that I made the right choice in tire in terms of longevity and grip. I'm doing the same "Easy Autocross Prep" with my WRX. Put stickies on, go autocrossing. 

alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/5/21 10:20 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

What did Ed Senf do 20 years ago?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/5/21 10:27 a.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

What did Ed Senf do 20 years ago?

Handled the head work and then tuned the Link ECU and cam gears. He's already asking what's next. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/5/21 10:28 a.m.

Dyno sheet from 2000 attached. 

alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/5/21 10:33 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Great improvements! 

In terms of "progress"- how is a car like that classed now?  20 years ago, assuming that the porting and parts fit, just the engine would have put the car in CSP...

For sure, a car that is a blast to autocross.  The Answer is the answer for a reason.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/5/21 10:39 a.m.

Back in the day, I think I mostly ran our local Street Mod class as CSP meant wide wheels, R-comps, etc. 

Today it almost fits in STR. I say "almost" because are those mirrors legal? STR allows a replacement ECU if older than 1995, so we're now legal there. I don't think the cam gears are okay for Street Touring, though. (I know I should know this, but I'm between editing right now.)

The 1.6L is outgunned for Xtreme Street, but I just like the simplified rules--same with CAM--so that's where I decided to run. Locally, looks like I'd fit into X Prepared, too, as other N/A Miatas are running there. 

Also, fresh numbers and class designations on the way, too. (Hope someone recognizes the font for the class letters, by the way.)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/5/21 10:40 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

And, yeah, Ed's the real deal. When he finished tuning the Link, I disconnected the keypad and put it in a box. And it's been sitting in that box ever since. The engine still pulls and pulls--no bobbles, no nothing. The idle is smooth. Soon we'll get it back on the dyno just so we can compare curves. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/5/21 10:48 a.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

The car also has a Kaaz clutch-type limited-slip diff. It's very nice. 

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