Not to Be Overlooked: Spec MX-5 Team Option Lowers Costs and Lap Times

For 2021, Spec MX-5 Challenge offers a new way to compete called the “Team Option”. Here are the basics:

What Is The Team Option?

• Two drivers compete with one car at Spec MX-5 Challenge Marquee events (Marquee events are all the events listed on the Spec MX-5 Challenge calendar — events where Spec MX-5s can run as a specific SMX class, not within another class)

• One driver runs in the SMX class, the other driver runs in the STL (SCCA events) or ST5 (NASA events) class

• Both drivers score points against other Spec MX-5 drivers

• The team’s points allow it to qualify for and compete in the Spec MX-5 Challenge National Championship

• At the National Championship, one driver runs the Saturday race, the other driver runs the Sunday race; combined Team carryover points plus Race 1 and Race 2 points determine the Team’s standing against all other drivers

There are different types of people attracted to the Team Option. Here are a few examples:

Car-Sharing: Why Would I Want To Compete That Way?

One profile of drivers who like the Team Option are those on a budget who would like to share the costs of the car, transport and mechanical work. The Team Option, if drivers split the costs reduces Spec MX-5 Challenge event costs by 30-50%. The car is half the cost, the tow is half the cost, entry costs are usually reduced, hotel costs may be half and the team needs fewer mechanics. Tires, fuel, crash and registration costs are reduced to a lesser degree. The costs may be split in any way between the two drivers, of course.

Driver Development: Why Would I Want To Compete That Way?

Another profile of the driver attracted to the Team Option is the driver who would like to run with his/her coach. By having the coach actually racing the car each weekend, the driver gets coaching data from his/her specific car, on that specific day at that specific time. This makes data coaching more accurate. In addition, not all coaches are equally expert on all tracks, so the Team Option provides a way for coaches to refresh their knowledge and use that for better feedback. It also provides video feedback from the coach’s car, which can be invaluable.

Coach Drake Kemper prepares for a race at Road America

The Thrill of the Team: Why Would I Want To Compete That Way?

Team Option drivers also can experience the fun of team competition. When you have a teammate who is running races each day and working to get qualy times down and discussing events of the day, the weekend can be even more fun than it normally is. 

Championship Run: Why Would I Want To Compete That Way?

Good drivers who want to gain every advantage might choose the Team Option to improve their chances of podiums and race wins. At the National Championship, designating the faster driver on that track to do qualifying gives both drivers the advantage of a good qualifying time. Having a second driver, whose style may fit a particular track, also improves the chances of coming away from a race weekend with a high points tally and therefore carryover points. 

Recruiting Coachees: Why Would I Want To Compete That Way?

Coaches who would enjoy driving in Spec MX-5 Challenge might wish to make prospective clients aware of the Team Option. This allows the coach to reduce or eliminate the cost of seat time, build his/her resume and potentially win some significant money. The client benefits from driver development as described above, and the Team Option may reduce coaching costs. 

Attracting Clients: Why Would I Want To Compete That Way?

Race shops may wish to use the Team Option to introduce clients to road racing or move them to road racing at a higher level. The Team Option provides a lot of flexibility for assembling teams including putting two complimentary drivers together, having the shop owner run with a client as the coach or putting a driver and a hired pro coach together. These services can be invaluable for drivers early in their racing careers. For drivers early in their careers, running on a team has the advantage of helping drivers learn about racing beyond lap times and race craft: career building, budget allocation, classes and sanctioning bodies, etiquette and networking are just a few of these benefits. 

For more on the Team Option visit the 2021 Spec MX-5 Challenge FAQ.

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