2019 FAQ

Spec MX-5 Challenge Championship 2019

Frequently Asked Questions v2.1

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 is the racing schedule for each series?

We will set the 2019 tracks and dates later in 2018 when tracks and sanctioning bodies have finalized their schedules. In 2018, the series ran superior tracks like Road Atlanta, Circuit of The Americas, VIRginia International Raceway, NOLA, the National Corvette Museum and Monticello Motor Club. We anticipate that 2019 will be filled with tracks of this caliber again, while adding some new tracks to the plan.

There are multiple series within the Spec MX-5 Challenge. Different series will run different groups of tracks during their regular seasons, which are used to qualify for the national championship. Championship qualifiers will then run together at a combined championship event.

Each of the series will run a 5 event (10 race) regular season. The points leaders in each series will qualify for the championship (in 2018, the top 7 in each series qualified). Ideally, we will begin racing in February and run through the championship event in October or November.

Is Series racing organized regionally?

In 2019 we anticipate that we will run multiple series, loosely organized around tracks in sectors of the country. In 2018, for example, we had an Eastern Series and and Central Series. Our plan for 2019 is to add more series, depending on driver interest.

Note: 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. 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 SMX cars will be assigned an appropriate run group by the organizers and will have a split start from other classes.

What does the season cost?

The cost is estimated to be $48k for any of the Spec MX-5 arrive-and-drive pro series.

When are payments due?

Once drivers have signed the season contract, the payment schedule is likely to consist of 6 payments of $8000, starting on February 1 and continuing until July 1.

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).

When you say the Spec MX-5 Challenge is an arrive & drive pro series, what do you mean?

As a full arrive & drive series, the series provides your race car rental, race car prep, tech, transport, entry fees, setup, mechanical work/crew, tools, fluids, brakes and tires. This approach makes it easier to ensure that cars are identical. It also allows the driver to focus completely on driving — learning new tracks and improving driving skills.

We view Spec MX-5 Challenge as a pro series because it offers substantial prize money and is designed to feed into pro racing ladder systems.

What are the additional “hidden costs”?

Each driver is responsible for their personal travel, accommodations, racewear, and licensing. The driver may also wish to utilize a professional driving coach (book in advance through the series or bring your own).

Who is responsible for car damage?

The series covers the cost of basic mechanical breakage due to wear on component parts (e.g. brake pads, clutch assemblies, hubs). Each driver is responsible (on a no-fault basis) for the cost of damage to the car while on track, including over-revs. 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.

What happens if I do not qualify for the Series Championship?

In the event a driver does not qualify for the Series Championship event, a refund of $4,000 of pre-paid fees will be paid to the driver within 30 days of final qualification determination.

What prize money is offered?

The 2019 championship winner will receive a $100,000 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.

We intend to offer additional prize money for achievements by championship participants.

During the regular season Spec MX-5 Challenge will also offer other contingency prize money for individual series races or events.

How many drivers will be competing?

Our objective is to have 30 drivers or more competing in Spec MX-5 during 2019. Each series should have as many as 10 drivers competing in the regular season. Approximately 60% of regular season drivers should qualify for the championship. A portion of the season fees will be refunded to drivers who do not qualify for the championship.

How do I apply to be a driver in the series?

The process is simple. First, fill out the series application form. The form is pretty simple, so it should only take a few minutes to fill it out.  If there are more drivers than seats in a particular series, we will contact drivers who have indicated a willingness to drive in other locations to confirm. If there are still more drivers than seats, we will select drivers based on date of application, ability to meet the payment schedule, flexibility to run on different tracks, and support for a competitive field front-to-back.

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 (early application recommended).

What series would I complete in if I am from coming from the North or the West?

Any driver may choose to run in any series during regular season. It doesn’t matter where you live; so for example, someone from Maryland could choose to drive in a central series or someone from Illinois could choose to drive in a southern series. We also welcome international drivers, although the same licensing and qualification requirements will apply.

Can I run individual races?

The series is focused on drivers who wish to compete for the full season and aim to win the championship or other prizes. It may happen that a full-season driver cannot participate in an event due to last minute business or personal obligations. If this occurs, we will keep a waiting list of drivers to invite to participate for single events (two races).

What does the series do to ensure fair competition?

The series has built the race cars to an identical specification. The series mechanics are trained to prep and setup the cars identically. In addition, we put drivers in different cars for each event weekend so that any small car-car differences are balanced over the course of the season. Tire pressures will be adjusted to suit each driver’s feedback. In addition, a single set of tires will be used for qualifying and both races, so the way each driver manages tire wear and abuse may be a factor. The cars are outfitted with data and video for use by both the series and the drivers.

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.

Since drivers change cars every weekend, 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.

What are the specifications of the cars and how similar are the NC MX-5’s compared to the ND Global MX-5’s?

The cars are based on the NC generation Mazda MX-5. The current group of series cars are freshly rebuilt with new suspension, paint, graphics, data/camera systems, harnesses, steering wheels, seats, fire systems, and many other new components. They are similar, but not identical to the NC generation MX-5 Cup cars. They have about 160hp and weigh 2500lbs with driver, which makes their power-to-weight ratio similar to the current generation Global MX-5 Cup cars. Lap times are significantly lower than Spec Miata and somewhat higher than the Global MX-5 Cup cars.

What tires will be run?

The tires are a Yokohama race slick for dry weather. The rain tire is a deep tread performance street tire.

Will the cars run with a hardtop?

We are currently evaluating this element of the specification.

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, 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.

Are the rules published so that I can build a car to them?

Currently all cars for the 2019 Spec MX-5 Challenge will be built and prepped by the series. We will offer cars for sale; if you are interested in this, contact the series. We are evaluating ways to allow independent builders to assemble cars that are compliant.

Can I run my NC MX-5 Cup race car in the series? My T4 car?

As of summer 2018, we are investigating ways to have existing NC generation MX-5 Cup cars and NC generation Mazda MX-5 SCCA T4 cars modified for series use or invited to events either alongside the series or as separate events.

Can I buy a Spec MX-5 race car from a series-approved builder?

Yes, although it will still be part of the pool of cars that rotate between drivers if it is part of the Spec MX-5 Challenge. Unlike typical race car ownership, the series will pay owners a rental fee, which can of course be used to offset your racing costs. The objective is to offer a high-quality and highly standardized car that supports the series goal of true spec competition. A similar approach has been used by the SRO in partnership with Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA, and Mazda in the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich.