2020 Spec MX-5 Challenge FAQ

Spec MX-5 Challenge Racing 2020

Frequently Asked Questions v1.6

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 (~170 wheel hp). With a racing weight of 2500 lb., the Spec MX-5 fits nicely in several club racing classes, specifically SCCA STL and NASA ST5.

With its race suspension, including Penske single-adjustable shocks, Eibach springs  and the Toyo RR race 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 basic build, including street donor cost, with all work performed professionally,  should be possible for under $40,000. With the range of options that nationally competitive drivers are accustomed to, builds should be in the $45,000 to $50,000 range.

A detailed build sheet is available here so that you can see what parts costs and estimated labor hours are. This build sheet is periodically updated, so check back for the latest version.

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 November, 2019. In addition, WindingRoadRacing.com offers most of the other parts needed that are not offered by Mazda in the Spec MX-5 Parts Store.

A complete build sheet is here.

SMX Build Sheet Preview

You may also purchase a completed race car, ready-to-run from one of the Spec MX-5 Challenge Preferred Race Shops.

More information on purchasing a built Spec MX-5 race car is available here.

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 and it will run in STL with the SCCA. 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. At the marquee events, Spec MX-5s will run in one run group for Championship points, and driver may “double dip” in STL or ST5 to get more seat time.

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 Marquee 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 may apply and be 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 November 2020 at Circuit of The Americas. It will bring together the top points qualifiers in the Spec MX-5 Regional Series, 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. An estimated $100,000 in prizes will be awarded and drivers will also be eligible to be selected by Mazda for the MRT24 Shootout.

What Prize and Support Money Can I Earn?

There is extensive support available for Spec MX-5 racers:

• Mazda offers discounts on parts through January 31, 2020

• Mazda offers a contingency program during the regular season:

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 8.56.49 AM

• Mazda offers ten $1000 scholarships for drivers in the Spec MX-5 Challenge Invitationals (application deadline January 27, 2020)

• Mazda offers one $5000 scholarship for the applicant selected for the Spec MX-5 Pentathlon

• Winding Road Racing offers discounts on safety parts and driver gear to those who join the Spec MX-5 Registry

• The Spec MX-5 Challenge presented by Toyo Tires will award up to $100,000 in prizes at the Championship event in November at Circuit of The Americas.

Prize Fund Article

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 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:

EAST

April 25-26: Summit Point Raceway (SCCA)

May 9-10: VIRginia International Raceway (SCCA)

June 6-7: Charlotte Motor Speedway (SCCA)

July 4-5: Watkins Glen International (SCCA)

July 25-26: Road Atlanta (SCCA)

September 5-6: Sebring International (SCCA)

WEST

March 21-22: Willow Springs International Raceway (NASA)

May 23-25: Thunderhill Raceway (SCCA)

August 29-30: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (SCCA)

October 10-11: Sonoma Raceway (NASA)

(West Regional drivers may also score points in ST5 on September 12-13 at Utah Motorsports Campus)

SPEC MX-5 CHALLENGE CHAMPIONSHIP

November: CoTA (SVRA)

What are the different ways to get to the Championship?

The Spec MX-5 Challenge Series has four competitions — East Regional Series, West Regional Series, National Series and Invitationals. Drivers from each type of event compete for points in their own series but are on track together:

marquee events

At the Championship, drivers from West, East, Invitational and the National Series bring the carryover points they’ve earned and then compete head-to-head for the Championship prizes. Additional details are here.

Is there an entrance path to race one to two of the scheduled Spec MX5 races?  Will I be allowed to run only one race before the championship?
You may enter as many or as few Spec MX-5 Challenge races as you like. You will be running those races as part of the East Regional Series or West Regional Series. With one race, you will be qualified for the Championship, if you register your points with Spec MX-5 Challenge. To maximize carryover points for the Championship you would want to run more races.
Can I enter only one race and pay that one entrance, or is there a minimum entrance cost that covers multiple races?
We distinguish between entry and registration. You will pay your entry fee to the sanctioning body for the weekend (SCCA, NASA, SVRA). You then would register your points with Spec MX-5 Challenge and pay a fee for administration and prizing. You may do both of these (entry and registration) one event at a time.
I read that there is a car owners registry.  How would I be entered onto that?
If you need to find the Registry later on, it is on www.specmx-5.com under the RACE CARS button; the drop down menu has an entry for REGISTRY.

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.

Contact the series for more details.

Are there Spec MX-5 cars available for sale?

Yes.

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. A list of preferred race shops and their services is here.

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 has 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.

Contact the series with questions here.

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

The Spec MX-5 will run in compliance with NASA and SCCA rules and classes. These classifications (STL for SCCA and ST5 for NASA) have published rules which can be found in the GCR of each organization. Mazda also offers detailed rules specific to the Spec MX-5 race car. Spec MX-5 Challenge publishes competition rules for the marquee events (East and West Regionals, National Series, Invitationals). See rules here.

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

Yes, with modifications. 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 2020. Each Marquee 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 Invitational 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 regionally.

What does the series do to ensure fair competition?

All cars run to a common rule set that has been carefully designed to generate fair competition. This rule set consists of SCCA rules for the STL class, NASA rules for the ST5 class, Mazda Motorsports technical rules for Spec MX-5 cars and Spec MX-5 Challenge rules for competition. For more information see the SCCA and NASA GCRs and this page for Spec MX-5 specific rules.

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 can be.

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.

What size tire is used?

The spec tire for Spec MX-5 racing is the Toyo Proxes RR 235/40ZR17. This is required for marquee and SCCA events and is preferred for NASA ST5. The rain tire is a Toyo Proxes RA1 235/40ZR17.

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.