Spec MX-5 Challenge Racing 2020
Frequently Asked Questions v1.2
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 and pro series like Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup sponsored by BF Goodrich. It is designed to be affordable for drivers in 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 v2 race car is based on the NC-generation (2006-2014) Mazda MX-5.
This is not the Spec Miata platform (which are based on NA and NB generation, 1990-2005 cars). Nor is it based on the current ND (2016-present) as is the 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 is capable of high performance which is a step above Spec Miata.
The Spec MX-5 race car uses the renowned Mazda MZR engine, with a Roush cylinder head and Mahle pistons. This provides an affordable, difficult-to-cheat package with about 40 hp over a Spec Miata engine. With a racing weight of 2500 lb., the Spec MX-5 fits nicely in several club racing classes.
With its race suspension, including Penske single-adjustable shocks, Eibach springs and the Toyo tires used in the series, Spec MX-5 cars are significantly faster than Spec Miatas and T4 NC racers, and just slightly slower than ND2 Global MX-5 Cup cars. The Spec MX-5 v2 will also be faster than the Spec MX-5 v1 that has been used in 2018 and 2019.
How much will a new Spec MX-5 Cup build cost?
Of course this will depend on several factors including optional equipment selected, cost of donor and region of the country where the car is being built. It also depends on whether any work is self-performed by the driver. But we estimate that a nationally competitive build, including street donor cost, with all work performed professionally, should be possible for under $40,000.
Certain race shops have announced plans and pricing for 2020 Spec MX-5s.
What parts do I need to turn a donor car into a Spec MX-5 v2?
Mazda will offer a complete kit of parts to build Spec MX-5s, including engine, suspension, cage, roof and more. Pre-orders for these parts start in summer 2019 and parts should begin shipping in October, 2019. In addition, WindingRoadRacing.com offers all of the other parts not offered by Mazda in the Spec MX-5 Parts Store.
How and where can I race a Spec MX-5?
The Spec MX-5 is intended to be the next great spec racing platform. It will be classified in SCCA and NASA for club racing, initially as part of existing classes. For example, the Spec MX-5 v2 will run in ST5 with NASA. It will also be classed in Champcar, AER and WRL for endurance racing. This will give racers hundreds of events each year in which to participate.
Mazda and Spec MX-5 are also organizing a variety of Spec MX-5 Challenge marquee events during 2020 which will make it easy for drivers and teams to figure out which events are likely to have the highest car count. These marquee events also feed into a national championship for Spec MX-5, with a minimum of $50,000 in prize money.
The marquee events host groups of drivers aimed at different needs:
- Regional Series. In East and West regions of the country, drivers will compete in 4 events (8 races) to earn Spec MX-5 National Championship points and prizes. Drivers can run their own cars or enlist a race shop to support them.
- Invitationals. Certain Spec MX-5 Challenge marquee events will feature Invitationals. Talented drivers will be nominated and selected to run single events together with Regional Series drivers. Invitationals are done on a full arrive and drive basis with support from designated pro race shops.
- National Series. Certain Spec MX-5 Challenge marquee events will bring National Series drivers to a group of the best tracks on the calendar. These talented drivers will run together with Regional Series drivers. The National Series are done on a full arrive and drive basis with support from designated pro race shops.
The Spec MX-5 Challenge National Championship will be held in the fall of 2020. It will bring together the top points qualifiers in the Spec MX-5 Regional Series, Shootouts, Invitationals and National Series. Each driver will carry over points from his or her qualifying races. Carryover points plus those scored in the Championship races will determine the 2020 season champion. Over $50,000 in prizes will be awarded and drivers will also be eligible to be selected by Mazda for the MRT24 Shootout.
What is the racing schedule for the series?
The regular season is expected to start in April and culminate in the Spec MX-5 National Championship in October or November. The exact schedule awaits event scheduling by Spec MX-5 partners SCCA and NASA.
For the regular season marquee events, Spec MX-5 is targeting superior tracks including:
April: Summit Point Raceway (SCCA)
May: VIRginia International Raceway (SCCA)
June: Charlotte Motor Speedway (SCCA)
July: Watkins Glen International or Road America (SCCA, pending exact dates)
July: Road Atlanta (SCCA)
August: Sebring International (SCCA)
April: Thunderhill Raceway (NASA)
Summer: west coast track (TBD)
September: Sonoma Raceway (NASA)
October: Buttonwillow Raceway Park (NASA)
SPEC MX-5 CHALLENGE CHAMPIONSHIP
October/November: Road Atlanta (SCCA) or CoTA
What will the weekend schedule be like?
Each event is run with either SCCA or NASA on a club racing weekend. The series will generally run 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 a season will depend on the type of racing, tow distances and service package selected by the driver. The Spec MX-5 Series office will be available to direct you to race shops providing Spec MX-5 Services. In addition, we will provide a list of entry fees for the various options described above.
Detailed pricing is shown in a PDF spec sheet covering each of the services and car ownership options that will be offered in 2020: Download a detailed example price and services sheet here.
Are there Spec MX-5 cars available for sale?
Most drivers will commission their race shop to build a car for them.
Winding Road Racing is accepting commissions for build slots that begin in October. Contact Winding Road Racing for pricing and availability. Other shops are expected to announce soon.
In addition, 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 or NC Playboy Cup cars to run in the Spec MX-5 Challenge.
Or, you may wish to build your own car.
Can I buy a Spec MX-5 race car from a series-approved builder?
Yes. The series is building a list of experienced shops who will build Spec MX-5 v2 cars. The objective is to ensure high-quality and highly standardized cars that fit with the technical migration path (2019-2022) we have developed with Mazda, SCCA and NASA.
Are the rules published so that I can build a car to them?
The Spec MX-5 will run within NASA and SCCA rules and classes. These classifications should be available some time in August of 2019. Mazda will also offer a build sheet for the Spec MX-5 v2 in the summer of 2019.
Can I run my NC MX-5 Cup race car in the series? My T4 car?
Yes. 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. Adaptation of T4 cars is straightforward.
NC-generation MX-5 Cup cars (“Playboy Cup” cars) can be easily converted to Spec MX-5 legal trim.
When you say the Spec MX-5 Challenge is a driver development series, what do you mean?
We view Spec MX-5 Challenge as a driver development 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, World Challenge and IMSA Continental Sports Car Challenge.
The big difference from club racing is the way Spec MX-5 Challenge is organized for driver development. 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. The cars generally have data and video systems to support data sharing and analysis.
By creating national venues that draw top competitors, Spec MX-5 Challenge offers a simple way for drivers to benchmark themselves. This is often a critical first step in setting driver development goals. In addition, National Series participants are offered embedded coaching and data services, so that they get direct and immediate feedback on their driving practices from active participants in Spec MX-5 racing. This provides feedback from pro drivers running the same spec car on the same track under the same conditions, which makes data more relevant and easier to understand. This kind of feedback is crucial to moving up the learning curve. The embedded model also allows for lower cost coaching than private 1:1 approaches.
As a driver development series, Spec MX-5 Challenge also provide significant publicity for drivers, with articles, videos and live streams to gain exposure within the racing community.
How many drivers will be competing?
Our objective is to have more than 50 drivers competing in Spec MX-5 during 2019. Each event should have 10-20 participants, with more than 20 attending the National Championship.
What license(s) are required?
An SCCA or a NASA full competition license will be required for all drivers depending on the event. Note that 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?
Yes! We will have a set of Spec MX-5 Challenge Marquee events for drivers who want to do single events with strong competition. Or you can pick a personally convenient group of events and tracks to run with either SCCA or NASA.
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.
Will the cars run with a hardtop?
Yes. Both the OEM removable hardtop and an optional aftermarket hardtop will be legal in 2020.
Are the shocks adjustable?
The optional Penske shock is a single adjustable design. A non-adjustable shock package is also legal.
I have 7″ OEM wheels. Can I run those?
Yes. The 17 x 7″ OEM wheel that was offered on street NC MX-5s is legal. There is an optional 8″ wheel as well.
I have an early (2006-2009) car. Is that front bumper cover legal?
Yes. Any year and design of bumper cover that was available on the NC is legal for 2020.