Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship 2019
Frequently Asked Questions v2.3
Why was the Spec MX-5 Challenge created?
The Spec MX-5 Challenge is a road racing championship that bridges between successful club classes like Spec Miata on one hand, and pro series like Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup sponsored by BF Goodrich on the other hand. We have worked hard to make the series affordable for drivers moving up from club racing, while retaining attractive prize money and diverse venues for those wishing to build their racing careers.
What are the specifications of the cars?
The Spec MX-5 race car is based on the NC-generation (2006-2014) Mazda MX-5. This is not the Spec Miata platform (which are NA and NB generation, 1990-2005 cars). Nor is it the current ND (2016-present) Global MX-5 Cup car. The NC platform has been selected because a) it allows a tightly-controlled spec series, b) it allows relatively low-cost cars to be built and run and c) the platform has significant development capability so that it can run in multiple classes.
The Spec MX-5 race car uses the renowned Mazda MZR engine, which has also been used in the Continental Sports Car Challenge and the IMSA Lites program. As currently tuned, the Spec MX-5 delivers about 160 hp. With the race suspension and tires used in the series, Spec MX-5 cars are significantly faster than Spec Miatas and just slightly slower than Global MX-5 Cup cars from 2016-2018. More information on purchasing a Spec MX-5 race car is available here.
The Spec MX-5 car is also similar in specification to the current SCCA T4 car, allowing T4 cars to race in Spec MX-5 Challenge events with simple modifications (e.g. removal of top, lower weight and use of series-approved tires). For more information on running T4 cars in Spec MX-5 Challenge visit the SCCA T4 FAQ.
In keeping with our desire to make Spec MX-5 racing popular in the long run, at both the club and pro level, Spec MX-5 and other industry officials have also developed a migration path for the car in future years. The objective is to have well-controlled specifications, relatively low build and run costs, and the ability to run in a variety of events. The intent is that Spec MX-5 racing will continue to be exciting while it is closely aligned with NASA and SCCA rules.
What is the racing schedule for each series?
West regular season (10 races organized into 5 events) is planned as follows:
- Circuit of The Americas, May 4-5 (NASA)
- Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, June 1-2 (SCCA)
- Sonoma Raceway, June 15-16 (NASA)
- Road America, August 17-18 (SCCA)
- Utah Motorsports Campus, October 5-6 (NASA)
East regular season (10 races organized into 5 events) is planned as follows:
- VIRginia International Raceway, March 9-10 (SCCA)
- Watkins Glen International, July 6-7 (SCCA)
- Road Atlanta, July 27-28 (SCCA)
- Sebring, Aug 31-Sept 2 (SCCA)
During each regular season series, participants will earn points. The highest scoring participants will be qualified for an invitation to the Championship event:
- Road Atlanta, Nov 2-3
Is Series racing organized regionally?
Yes and no. We have organized the tracks we run into two groups to help manage logistics for both drivers and crew. Note that while the tracks are organized around broad sections of the country, drivers are welcome to join series that are not near their places of residence. For example, we had drivers from California in the Central Series and drivers from the Midwest in the Eastern Series in 2018. We have also had interest for 2019 from international drivers, and we welcome that.
What will the weekend schedule be like?
The series will generally be 3-day events, with the first day being a track test day (usually 3-4 sessions on track), and the next two days following the standard regional weekend format of qualifying and a race each day. The cars running in the Challenge will be assigned an appropriate run group by the organizers and will have a split start from other classes.
What does the season cost and what do I get?
The cost for the regular season will depend on the service package selected by the driver.
- Arrive & Drive. Regular season costs are $45k for West or East Spec MX-5 Challenge with full arrive-and-drive services. The full arrive & drive package includes use of a series-owned car (i.e. race car rental), prep, maintenance, entry fees, tires, fuel, pads, transport, setup, trackside repairs and more.
Other lower-cost packages, with more services provided by the driver, are also being offered:
- Car Owner Services. If a driver owns a car and wants maintenance service a la carte, this package provides the rest of what is needed to run the regular season: prep, transport, entry fees, tires, fuel, pads, setup, trackside repairs and more.
- Basic. A driver may wish to do most of the work to prepare and run a race weekend himself or herself. In that case, this package provides the other elements needed to compete in the Challenge: tires (slick and rain), wheels, wear and spare parts availability, tech, series administration, driver publicity and entry fees.
If I want to own and run my own car, what are entry and related fees?
Entry fees per weekend, for season participants who want to compete for the championship, are $3000. This includes the one required/allowed set of coded sticker tires. Rain tires, scrub tires, mounting, transport and wheel rental are extra cost (the series can supply all tire and wheel sets needed to run a weekend). There is an annual tech fee for each car. Entry fee surcharges may apply for certain tracks.
Are there Spec MX-5 cars available for sale?
The series offers cars for sale; if you are interested in purchasing an existing car or having a new car built, contact the series. It is also possible to convert existing SCCA T4 cars to run in the Spec MX-5 Challenge. The modifications are relatively simple. Details and pricing of cars are available here.
Can I buy a Spec MX-5 race car from a series-approved builder?
Yes. The objective is for the series to build high-quality and highly standardized cars that fits with the technical migration path (2019-2022) we are working on with Mazda, SCCA and NASA. This supports the series goal of true spec competition, while holding down the costs of upgrades and making the car as future-proof as possible. For 2019, the series can build you a car that can then be upgraded to the future 2020 specification, protecting your investment. New car specifications and pricing are here.
Are the rules published so that I can build a car to them?
You can build an SCCA T4 car to run in the Spec MX-5 Challenge. The modifications to switch between T4 and Spec MX-5 are relatively simple and can be done between races on an event weekend. For more information visit the series’ SCCA T4 FAQ.
Can I run my NC MX-5 Cup race car in the series? My T4 car?
NC-generation Mazda MX-5 SCCA T4 cars can be modified for series use and are invited to run the full Spec MX-5 Challenge series (West or East). Adaptation of T4 cars is straightforward, mainly involving a change of tires, weight and removal of the T4-mandated top. For details visit the series’ SCCA T4 FAQ or contact the series.
We are investigating the conversion of NC-generation MX-5 Cup cars to Spec MX-5 trim. If you wish to have your car converted, contact the series.
What prize money is offered?
The series has allocated over $100,000 in scholarship prize money for the 2019 season. This prize money will be divided among the top three finishers in the championship.
The 2019 championship winner will receive a scholarship to run the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich in 2020. This scholarship should cover most of the costs of a Global MX-5 Cup season.
In addition, there will be contingency prizes for regular season races.
When are payments due?
Once drivers have signed the season contract, the payment schedule is likely to consist of 9 equal payments, starting on February 1 and continuing until September 1. For those renting a car, there is also a crash damage deposit required. Payments for repair of crash damage are due upon invoicing (sometimes it takes a few days or more after an event to assess the required repairs). Drivers running individual races will need to apply and pay 4 weeks prior to an event in which they wish to compete.
What happens if I do not qualify for the Series Championship?
In the event a driver does not qualify for the Series Championship event, that driver will not have to pay for the 6th and final round.
When you say the Spec MX-5 Challenge is a driver development pro series, what do you mean?
We view Spec MX-5 Challenge as a pro series because it offers substantial prize money, runs on “pro” tracks and is designed to feed into pro racing ladder systems. Specifically, Spec MX-5 Challenge is designed to help drivers move from entry level club racing, particularly Spec Miata, toward Global MX-5 Cup, Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA Continental Sports Car Challenge.
For driver development, the Spec MX-5 Challenge focuses on substantial fields (10 cars or more) running a tightly specified car (to make the driver the key variable), with talented drivers who are not yet experienced pros. We invite coaches to be involved with drivers, and the cars are specified with data systems to support data sharing and analysis.
We also provide significant publicity for drivers, with articles, videos and live streams to gain exposure within the racing community.
What are the additional “hidden costs”?
Each driver is responsible for their personal travel, accommodations, race wear, coaching and licensing. We encourage drivers to utilize a professional driving coach (book in advance through the series or bring your own). Drivers are also responsible for crash damage including abuse of the car (e.g. over-revs) that does not involve contact.
Who is responsible for car damage?
The driver is responsible for mechanical damage. If a driver is renting a car from the series, the series covers the cost of basic mechanical breakage due to wear on component parts (e.g. brake pads, clutch assemblies, hubs if due to normal wear and tear). Each driver is responsible (on a no-fault basis) for the cost of damage to the car while on track, including over-revs and missed shifts. This includes damage from contact with other cars, bump drafting, and power shifting, as well as contact with walls, guard rails and other track objects. Crash insurance is available through third party insurers.
How many drivers will be competing?
Our objective is to have 25 drivers or more competing in Spec MX-5 during 2019. Each series should have as many as 15 drivers competing in the regular season. Approximately 50% of regular season drivers should qualify for the championship.
How do I apply to be a driver in the series?
The process is easy. First, fill out the series application form. The form is pretty simple, so it should only take a few minutes to fill it out. The objective is to make sure that all drivers are qualified, the field has a good balance of talent and that the series has the appropriate personnel and equipment for each type of competitor (arrive & drive, car owner, basic, individual event).
What license(s) are required?
An SCCA and a NASA full competition license will be required for all drivers prior to the start of the season. If you have either of these licenses, obtaining the other is relatively straightforward. If you are not currently licensed, the series may be able to arrange a licensing school through our partners Level Up Racing (SCCA) and Winding Road Academy (NASA). Early application is recommended.
Can I run individual races?
The series is focused on drivers who wish to compete for the full season and aim to qualify for the championship. Drivers are welcome to run individual races, but they will not earn points. Drivers who wish to run individual races may rent a Spec MX-5 car from the series on a space-available basis. Drivers who own SCCA T4 cars may run them in individual events (or full season). For more information on T4, visit the series’ SCCA T4 FAQ.
What does the series do to ensure fair competition?
All cars run to a common rule set. The series has built many of the race cars identically and has worked with its partners to create a common specification for all cars running in the series. Cars from outside series ownership must comply with series rules and have a Balance of Performance adjustment made that is based on testing. The cars are outfitted with data and video for use by both the series and the drivers.
How close is the competition?
Drivers are recruited with the goal of having tight competition. In 2018, we had nine different winners in 22 races. The majority of the races in 2018 were decided by a few tenths of a second, including the championship, which was tied in points with only the final race to go, and that race was decided by 0.128 seconds!
We invite you to view some of the in-car videos from the 2018 season to see how close the competition is.
What are the marketing opportunities for my sponsors?
You may run sponsor logos on your car. The series will live stream from selected cars on most weekends, and drivers may also live stream each race from their cars. The series will post videos from selected cars after each race, and publish race news in various media outlets. As with most racing, the key is for you and your sponsors to leverage their support and your success. Drivers are encouraged to promote their involvement in the series as well. Note that to keep costs down, this is not a spectator series.
If I rent a car from the series, can I have sponsor logos on the car?
Absolutely! You’ll just need to bring new sponsor decals each weekend. Sponsor logos will incur a fee for application and removal if not done by the driver. We also suggest reflecting your sponsorship on your race suit and/or helmet.
How similar are the NC MX-5’s compared to the ND Global MX-5’s?
The Spec MX-5 race cars have about 160hp and weigh 2600lbs with driver, which makes their power-to-weight ratio similar to the current generation ND-based (2016-2018) Global MX-5 Cup cars. Lap times for Spec MX-5 cars are significantly lower than Spec Miata and somewhat higher than the 2016-2018 Global MX-5 Cup cars.The Spec MX-5 race cars are similar, but not identical, to the NC-generation (2006-2014) MX-5 Cup cars. The current group of Spec MX-5 series cars which drivers can rent are freshly rebuilt with new suspension parts, paint, graphics, data/camera systems, harnesses, steering wheels, seats, fire systems, and many other new components. The Spec MX-5 Challenge Series plans on testing championship-level SCCA T4 race cars in Spec MX-5 configuration to confirm competitive balance-of-performance.
What tires will be run?
The tires are a Yokohama race slick for dry weather. The rain tire is a Yokohama deep tread performance street tire.
Will the cars run with a hardtop?
In 2019 we will run with open tops, and we feel this brings several advantages.
What backup equipment will the series have?
The series will carry spare parts to cover the most common failures. The series will bring a spare car to each event, available for rental in case of major crash damage to a car or to cover a mechanical breakdown that can’t be addressed due to time or parts supply. The series will bring rain tires for each driver, and backup slick tires in case of a safety issue with a tire.