The Race To Race: Prepping the Cars of Spec MX-5

Five days. 1,340 miles. A race car relay race.

No, it’s not the newest episode of The Amazing Race. It’s actually the time and distance the crews of Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks will cover next week, between the Spec MX-5 Challenge Central Series’ second event at Circuit of the Americas and the East Series’ round at VIRginia International Raceway.

To make the Series work, and ensure that each driver has equal cars, seven of the NC Mazda MX-5s travel from series to series, with four each living in their home area – at least for now. But that means that those seven cars have to be in tip-top shape when the green flag drops.

How does that even happen?

At the conclusion of the Central Series’ Round 4 on Sunday, May 2, the Winding Road Racing crew (who have had the cars since their season opener at NCM Motorsports Park in late March) will make any repairs necessary, with the goal of shipping the cars back East in the same condition they received them.

Of course, it’s 988 miles, in the series’ truck and trailer, from Austin to Atlanta. Google Maps claims that’s a 15-hour drive, but we run this legally – so we’ll estimate 24 hours with breaks and sleeping.

Giving it the best-case scenario, those cars are probably ready for the Atlanta Speedwerks crew on Tuesday morning, May 8.

With the first four Atlanta Speedwerks-prepped cars ready to roll at the shop already, it’s time to thrash on the seven additional cars that the East Series drivers will need to get through their weekend at VIR, May 11-13.

With a full two days to finish prep, the Atlanta Speedwerks team will run through their checklist. Checking the Pagid brakes, fluids, oil changes, minor repairs, and other maintenance items will be inspected, changed and refreshed. Car numbers will be assigned for the East Series, at random, once it’s clear which of the 11 available cars will make the first cut of assignments for the nine pilots awaiting their chariot for this round at VIR.

With those items out of the way (even if it takes all night), Thursday morning becomes a load-up day, where the trailer (joined by two smaller trucks and trailers ready to haul the additional four cars, as well as all other race-weekend supplies) will make the 374-mile, six-hour drive to ViR.

Arriving at VIR late Thursday afternoon, the crew will again spring into action. Awning up and cars unloaded, the last-minute items come into play. Filling with fuel, adjusting seat positions for drivers, changing Yokohama tires on all 11 cars – all completed before the first test session Friday morning. Then, it’s just a typical race weekend (whatever that means!).

That tight timeline, of course, is just a part of the plan. And as we all know, things typically run exactly to the plan in racing. Right?

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