Where To Do Your Racing In 2019

Features, Racing I By Winding Road Staff I December 05, 2018

With the holiday season upon us, now is a good time to consider where to go racing in 2019. Here are a few thoughts to help you think clearly on the subject.

School Days

Perhaps you are a track day or HPDE who would like to take the plunge into wheel-wheel racing (you won't regret it!). You may need to attend a school, and many SCCA regions have one before their seasons start. If you are in NASA, you may be just about done (HPDE 4) and ready for your test. Or, contact Winding Road Academy about our group and private schools:

NASA Competition Licensing School

Spec Miata

Once you are licensed you need to decide what class to run. Spec Miata is the obvious choice, as you may have heard. But you may not know why or you may have your doubts about whether it is right for you. Take a look at our full article on the 10 Reasons Spec Miata Is The Best Racing Car, but check out this list to see if it's a fit for you:

1. Spec Miata can be run competitively in the largest number of racing events (NASA, SCCA and, with the right car, SVRA). Spec Miatas can also often be run in ChampCar, WRL, BMWCCA and PCA events though not always at the top of the class. At many NASA and SCCA events, Spec Miatas can be run in two different classes, giving you more racing per weekend than normal (again, sometimes you won't at the front of the field in some classes, but for practice this feature is great).

2. Spec Miata is pretty darn affordable as racing goes. No racing is inexpensive, but SM is toward the inexpensive end of the spectrum because the cars are reliable, the parts are pretty cheap and the consumables are relatively affordable.

3. There is a huge market of Spec Miata cars for sale. It is easy to get a car and used cars are pretty inexpensive ($10k and up). A new championship-capable car is under $40k from competent builders.

4. The field in Spec Miata is reliably the largest on any given amateur weekend and typically is over 20 cars. This means you will have a variety of driver skill levels represented and therefore as a novice and intermediate will almost certainly have someone to race against directly.

5. The competitor skills at the front of the pack are very high. This means you have a way to benchmark yourself that won't lull you into a false sense of security (making you think you are better than you are).

6. SM doesn't offer much opportunity to win with money. Even if someone could figure out how to spend $80k on a Spec Miata, which we doubt, a better driver with a $40k car would usually win.

7. To be fast in Spec Miata, you have to develop skills that transfer well to other classes. No class offers everything, of course (e.g. a non-aero car won't teach you aero brake modulation). But SM teaches you a lot about corner entry and car control and passing skills and starts and running in tight packs. That stuff is useful in every class.

8. The Spec Miata is a relatively stable car (especially NB generation cars), so it builds confidence around the limit. A key task in road racing is to be able to run at the limit, so a car that wants to bite you is either scary or wrecked, and thus not very helpful early on.

9. Spec Miatas are reliable as far as race cars go, which leads to more seat time. Seat time is critical for learning. This seat time benefit is compounded because you can generally race your Spec Miata in two classes, giving you up to 6 races in a weekend.

10. Spec Miatas are the best-supported cars in the country. Arrive and drive services? Easy. Spare parts? Easy. Tips on setup? Easy. Someone to build a car? Easy. SM to rent at a distant track? Easy.

Also, note point #10: some larger race shops can support you with full services ("arrive & drive") so that you just show up and race. You don't need mechanical skills, a truck, and trailer, or parts and tools.

Beyond Spec Miata

You may be in Spec Miata or think you'd like to start somewhere else. Here are some ideas about how to do that well:

The Best Alternatives To Spec Miata

Go Pro Racing On A Budget

If you have a few years (or more) of racing experience, including in karts, you might want to enter a driver development series. In a driver development series you get tight competition and have the chance to earn significant prize money. The lowest cost way to do this right now is in the Spec MX-5 Challenge, with over $100,000 in prizes and the chance to run pro tracks:


The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

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