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JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/9/13 11:18 p.m.

So, with this all complete, I was off to the auto-x. I was working 1st thing, which was nice, because it gets really hot at Turner Field. Unfortunately, as soon as I was getting ready to grid for my runs it started pouring rain. I had bet on it being dry for a while and was running my Hoosier R6s and it was pretty pathetic. I was posting the same times as well-prepared corvettes, but we were all just slipping everywhere and Bob Costas-footing it around the course feathering the throttle like crazy through the corners.

This wouldn't have been too terrible (I think it's good to get a setup dialed in for the rain), but it stopped raining after my first run and by my last run half of the course was totally dry. So, traction was so inconsistent it was really hard to learn much other than R6s don't work well in puddles. The car did feel more predictable and settled thanks to the new springs, lower ride height, and corner balancing, but I didn't really get the great shakedown I was hoping for.

Here are some pictures before I left at the end of the morning session (I'd already changed back to street wheels/tires). Of course it had totally dried out by then.

So, barring any disasters it will be up to AMP next Saturday for the car's first track time. Looking forward to it.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/12/13 4:07 p.m.

Stopped by the shop this evening and quickly cut out the radiator/cooling plate on the bandsaw from a piece of 0.050" aluminum.
As you can see, I used the plastic OEM part from a '95 as a template. It took all of 5 minutes to trace the OEM plate and cut out the new aluminum one by hand. I removed the upper bumper bolts and the hood latch and slipped the plate in under the bumper support tabs, then bolted everything back down.

Happy with the results and how easy this was. I'm hoping this (along with the fan wiring and maintenance that's been done) will help keep the engine temps where they should be while at the track.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/12/13 4:12 p.m.

I also received the adjustable brake proportioning valve today. It was $22.97 on ebay and comes with fittings and a little mounting plate.
I also ordered a bunch of brake unions for another $13.75 so that I could put everything together without cutting and flaring any lines, which is always a pain. If I have the time, I'll try to install this tomorrow or Friday, though I don't think it's really necessary for this first track day.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/12/13 4:19 p.m.

Finally, I scheduled an alignment at Gran Turismo East for this Friday afternoon. They're a great local performance alignment/tire shop and sponsor the Wreck Racing Team. They've done a great job with custom alignments for me in the past when I was setting up the RX-8 for auto-x.

I'm hoping to get the camber numbers to around 2.0 degress front and rear and I'll probably start with 0 toe front and a little toe in rear, but I'll talk with the guys there and see what they recommend based on what other similar cars (spec miata and such) are running.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/14/13 10:16 p.m.

Got the alignment out of the way today and got the DTC-60 pads bedded in this evening. Tires are on the truck and the GF and I will be rolling out with one or two other guys from the Wreck Racing team tomorrow morning. Hoping to spend most of the day up at AMP testing the WR miata and running my miata there too.

Here's the specs on my alignment. Got a bit more camber up front that I thought, which is a great surprise. My experience is limited to the A6, but they seem to like 2.5-3.0 degrees of camber and Hoosier recommends the same thing for the R6. Toe is close to zero all around with just a tad bit of toe in at the back for stability.

After helping with a few things at the WR shop this evening, I came home and pulled out the my miata to bed in the brakes. It was prety amazing. Those DTC-60s were throwing off a shower of sparks as they came up to temperature - really neat. I've seen it in videos before, but never 1st hand at night. Did a number of pulls on the empty highway up to 80 or so and back down to get them nice and toasty, then parked it to let everything cool. Should be all set for tomorrow.

LainfordExpress HalfDork
6/16/13 9:41 a.m.

This is a fantastic build thread. I'd like to do something like this, but a miata in that good of condition up here, I don't think you can find for $2000, much less $750... I need to start looking at more cars that "need an engine" I guess.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 11:41 a.m.

In reply to LainfordExpress:


As far as finding a better example of an old miata, it's just a waiting game. I look through the Atlanta CL ads every day when I get home and it took several months to find this one and I haven't seen a deal like this since.

I have a good friend here who picked up a '91 a couple years ago in better mechanical condition than my car for only $275. So, just keep your eyes out and ask around if you're really interested in finding one. The good deals come up once in a while.

But I agree with you on the typical price being $2000+. If I were to go out and buy the cheapest miata I could find tomorrow, it would probably be in that range.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 8:19 p.m.

So, got back from the track day last night and I'm happy to report that everything went as well as or better than I could have hoped (with my car anyway). But, before I launch into that, I should say a few things about my thoughts on the car up until then.

Before I bought this car, I had autocrossed many NA and NB miatas belonging to friends and novices. I'd ridden in track-prepped miatas on major road courses. I'd even borrowed them for a daily driver on occasion, and I'd thoroughly enjoyed several of those experiences. However, after buying this car, I was a little underwhelmed. I'm used to fairly light cars with very good suspension setups (our RX-8 for instance, or my old CRX si), and there wasn't anything that seemed special enough about this miata to warrant all the praise that they receive. I also haven't been all that thrilled with the car while working on it. With the rear caliper adjusters, the interior fuse box location, the idling issues, lack of rear suspension travel, etc, it just seemed like there were a fair number of things that bothered me and made me think "this car isn't really that great/special". Even on the autocross course, I found myself wishing I were back in the RX-8, which felt more planted, smooth and rewarding to drive quickly. I didn't regret my decision to purchase the car, but I just though it was really over-hyped. Well, my opinion has been improved a pretty decent amount after flogging it around the track for a day. It was a blast.

Here's a shot of the car sitting in pit lane at AMP and one of the GF and me getting ready to head out again after lunch.

grafmiata SuperDork
6/16/13 8:40 p.m.

Ooohh.... I only had my black hardtop on my smurf a couple of days, but it was long enough for someone to name it "Bruise".

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 9:29 p.m.

In reply to grafmiata:

Haha. I haven't gotten that one yet, probably only a matter of time though.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 9:48 p.m.

So, yeah. The car did really well on track. Obviously it's a momentum car, so it's definitely not fast on the straights, but boy could it carry speed through the corners. During the course of the day I managed to pass the following cars, and keep them behind me for the rest of the session: Ferrari F430, Nissan GT-R, Lotus Elise, a number of new Porsche 911's, and a Lamborghini (Gallardo, I think - I'm not a Lambo guy). Obviously, they didn't have great drivers and AMP is a moderately low-speed course, but still. Passing cars that cost well over 100x more than my car really put a grin on my face.

There was an Ariel Atom "Experience" event during the afternoon with maybe 10 Atoms. Those things were fast, and try as I might I couldn't run down any of those . Though I could almost keep up through the twisty bits.

More seriously though, the car had great feedback and was really predictable on track. With the setup I'm running (370/275 springs, OEM sway bars), the car definitely tends towards a little bit of oversteer, however it was very controllable. On several of the faster corners I could get the car to rotate with some trailbraking, the rear end would start to come out, then I could apply some light throttle to plant the rear end and roll on the throttle as I hit the apex. It was really rewarding.

I had no trouble cutting over the curbing and even through the dip at turn 11 I could clip the corner without any violent bottoming of the suspension, so very happy there. The brakes and tires both held up really well and were very consistent the whole day, which was nice. I was worried about how long the tires would last (they're pretty old and well-used Hoosier R6s), but they had only a small amount of wear after three or four sessions. I didn't get a chance to mess with the tire pressures much, but I was running around 28-30 psi cold and the feel and wear was very good.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to record any lap times during the day (hopefully I can borrow a TraqMate next time), but based on my tachometer, gearing and tire size, I was just hitting 100 mph on the straight, which is right around spec miata speed, so not too bad.

Here are a few shots of the car out on track near turn 6.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 9:56 p.m.

So, again, it was a great day for this car. I didn't have any overheating or oiling issues. In fact zero reliability issues of any kind (other than using up a little oil - and what do you expect with 250k on the engine).

I'm hoping to take it out to a few more HPDE type events this summer and get the GF some seat time too (she wasn't feeling well and only rode along this time).

Last time I was at the track I was talking through things with our instructor and really came to the conclusion that I wanted to get back into wheel-to-wheel. So, I've been thinking a lot about Chumpcar again. Maybe at some point I'll look into trading this car for a nice Chumpcar setup. We'll see...

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 10:07 p.m.

And now - the bonus feature of this build thread - an update on the Wreck Racing miata!

So, the reason I was actually up at AMP yesterday was to drive the Wreck Racing, supercharged V8 miata for some testing. Two of the other WR guys came up and we got the car going after some electrical issues early in the morning. Here's the car in pit lane.

And turn 6: The car is really awesome to drive. It's making around 350 bhp and 300 lb-ft of torque and sounds unbelievable with the supercharger whine. It felt really great out on track Sunday morning, was pulling hard and it grips like crazy, but we had some oil pressure issues on track and had to bring it in after just a couple laps. We'll be taking a look at it in the next week or so and hope to have it all well-sorted before the trip up to UTCC in July. Hopefully we'll see a bunch of you guys there!

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/16/13 10:51 p.m.

One more thing I wanted to post up - some product reviews.

Since I've been doing some instructing and testing for the WR guys, I decided to pick up some radio and intercom equipment. I already had a pair of Motorola CP200 radios (one in the middle): These are great; they have a long battery life and are easy to use and relatively cheap. The biggest downside is you need to send them in to a specialist to get the frequencies reprogrammed. This said, I didn't have a good pair of headsets. So, being super cheap, I picked these up on ebay from China:

Crew Headset

Driver's Earpiece and Mic
The total was just under $30 for both sets including shipping. They arrived in under a week IIRC, which was impressive. Both worked pretty well yesterday, though the driver's mic only has a little clip, so it's hard to get it attached to anything under the helmet. The volume was good in both and the clarity was decent. They're both push-to-talk (ptt) which is a little annoying, but the driver's setup has a remote ptt button which can be mounted on the wheel or dash, which is why I got that particular setup.

Overall, I give it one thumb up. You can't really beat it for the price IMO, and I like to treat these things as semi-disposable because the wires inevitably get caught on belts, doors, helmet straps, etc and tear.

I also picked up an intercom a couple months ago, which I've used a few times. It's a PMC-2 intercom.
It came with 2 headsets, designed to fit under a helmet and uses a live two-way feed between them when it's on, so the driver and passenger can talk back and forth without pressing any buttons or anything. The setup was $25 shipped from NewEgg, though I don't think they sell them anymore.

While it's worked pretty sell and the clarity is great, the max volume is too quiet for a car with open pipes. The quality of the headset wiring is poor and the intercom box feels really cheap. Again, I like to treat these as semi-disposable, so it works for me, and the cost is great, but due to the quality issues I'd probably give it one thumb down.

alfadriver PowerDork
6/17/13 1:02 p.m.

Looking back on the build- you've not done a 1.8l swap, right?

interesting comments about what you have concerns with- i had thought that the RX8 and the Miata were very close relations in terms of chassis. Mostly length being the difference. Perhaps you should see if you can get an NB rear subframe?? (dunno).

But it does remind me that I thought my '99 was better than my '95 the moment i got into it. So there may be something to that.

Great to see the project going so well!

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/17/13 1:21 p.m.
alfadriver wrote: Looking back on the build- you've not done a 1.8l swap, right?

That's right, engine and trans are the original, made in 1989, equipment.

As far as a comparison with the RX-8, I don't know if it was more in the chassis/suspension design or in the way I set it up, but it was more enjoyable on the autox course. I think I like the NA miata better on the track though (maybe just because I can really push it without worrying). The chassis in the RX-8 is pretty different from an NA/NB miata though. Although, it does share some components with the NC miatas.

nderwater UberDork
6/17/13 1:29 p.m.
JohnyHachi6 wrote:

Did you pay the $15 to get a ride in one of the Atoms? I wanted to drive up to AMP for the chance to do so, but my family is in the middle of moving and my wife wasn't about to let me out for three hours in the middle of a Saturday afternoon when there was work to be done.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
6/17/13 4:47 p.m.

I didn't, but Jonathan from Wreck Racing did (Bowenaero on this forum). He said it was neat, but the drivers weren't that great and they weren't unbeileiveably fast. I was almost keeping up with them in my miata except on the straights.

JohnyHachi6 HalfDork
7/15/13 11:33 a.m.

Got to turn some more laps at AMP on Saturday. Had a good time and the car was a ton of fun on the slicks. In the afternoon, I had to switch back to my street tires (the other WR guys with the truck were heading back to the shop and I don't have a trailer for my tires yet). I guess I'm getting spoiled by the slicks because the street tires felt so sloppy by comparison - still a lot of fun though.

There was rain in the forecast, but it stayed dry the whole day. Result was a really empty track but nice cool conditions. I spent at least a few hours driving and didn't get passed or run into anyone to pass the entire time.

Marnie, my long-time girlfriend also drove the car in the afternoon. She had her RX-8 out on track a month or two ago and I think it was hard for her to adjust to the track after years of exclusively driving in auto-x. She was much more comfortable in the car this time and did a great job and had a lot more fun.

The car ran great the whole time - no complaints. I even managed to get just over 20 mpg with 1/3 of the tank highway driving (heading up to the track) and the other 2/3 turning laps. Not bad!

Here are some pictures taken by one of the WR guys in the afternoon. Marnie is driving and I'm riding - you can see that the passenger's seat isn't set up that well - something to work on if I'm going to keep it installed long-term.

The beautiful Atlanta Motorsports Park:

JohnyHachi6 Dork
9/5/15 10:37 p.m.

Update time!!

It's for sale!


Had a lot of fun with this car - it's amazing on track and out on the back roads. But, I don't really have the time to track it much anymore and just have too much on my plate. Don't want it to sit.

Feel like I shouldn't keep the car from having fun, even if it can't be with me - you guys understand.

I have some updated pics of the carbon-kevlar dash insert and probably a few misc other things that I'll try to post tomorrow.

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