Category: News

Teaser: Spec MX-5 Pro Series

Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks are partnering to create a new 2018 race series built around a new class called Spec MX-5. The objective is to build a race series that has some of the attractive elements of pro racing, like meaningful prize money and top drivers and high-quality tracks. At the same time, WRR and Speedwerks want to keep costs down so that more drivers can compete and more drivers can treat a Spec MX-5 season as a step on a racing career ladder.

The Program

There are still a few details to be worked out, but basically Spec MX-5 will operate like this:

  • Spec MX-5 will run two regional series during 2018, one in the southeastern part of the US, the other in the south central section.
  • Drivers will pay a fee for the season of slightly above $40,000
  • Season fees cover car rental, prep, entry, mechanics, tools, tires, fuel, and consumables
  • Drivers will compete for points and some prize money during the regular season
  • Each region will award a group of its top drivers with a full scholarship to the Spec MX-5 Championship at the end of 2018
  • Drivers in the Championship event will compete for a significant monetary prize that should enable them to take the next step on the pro ladder (i.e. Global MX-5 Cup)

The Philosophy

To keep competition as balanced and driver-focused as possible, all drivers will run in identically prepared cars owned and operated by Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks. The cars are based on the NC (3rd) generation Mazda MX-5, with full cages, fire systems, harnesses and other safety equipment required of any road racing car. The specs for the car limit the number of adjustments to less than a handful, and the WRR/Speedwerks mechanics are being trained on how to prep the cars identically. Drivers will be assigned to a different car each weekend. The series does want drivers to get some experience with providing feedback to the team, so tire pressures will be adjusted for each car/driver pairing.

The Pro Racing Cost Issue

As we discovered in a recent Winding Road reader survey, about 50% of drivers assume that a pro racing season starts in the $40k – $60k range. As of 2017, the reality is that the lowest cost pro road racing series, the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup series presented by BF Goodrich, costs about $100k or probably a little bit more for the season. Pro series rise in cost from there, so that a Pirelli World Challenge TC season costs about $150k, an IMSA GT3 Cup or Trans Am season gets close to $300k and PWC or IMSA series running SRO GT3 cars are well north of $500k.

Obviously, these numbers keep a lot of good, often young, drivers from ever attempting the “pro” game. Mazda in particular has worked hard to create a ladder system that helps these drivers get in the game, but the reality is that, for example, there is only one winner of the Mazda Road To 24 shootout. That lucky driver gets $100k to use toward a follow on season (in Global MX-5 Cup). From there, you have to keep winning to move up. Or get a big sponsorship deal. Very difficult.

Spec MX-5 moves the cost of a pro season down into the anticipated range of $40k-$60k that our survey showed most drivers imagine when they think about pro racing. Spec MX-5 is designed to couple that more accessible entry point with enough prize money that some drivers will be able to move on to the next step on the ladder.

The Driver Development Issue

The other issue with even entry level pro racing is that it is expensive enough that some drivers can’t afford to do it year after year so that they build their skill in the long run. Quite a few drivers can scrape together the funds to do one season (which sometimes ends midway because of optimistic cost estimates). But many of those drivers can’t run MX-5 Cup or PWC year after year. If you don’t peak right away, you may be done.

Spec MX-5 is designed to be inexpensive enough that many more drivers can run Spec MX-5 year after year. With the goal of attracting top drivers, Spec MX-5 should serve as an excellent driver development platform. Drivers get to compete against a tough field and measure themselves. Drivers get the trackside support needed to free them to work on data and video analysis and receive coaching if desired.

Available Seats

Winding Road Racing and Atlanta Speedwerks have the cars needed to accept 10 drivers for the south central series and 10 drivers for the south eastern series. The teams will bring spare parts and spare cars in an effort to maximize track time.

If you would like to stay in the loop for additional details about Spec MX-5 and/or you think you’d like to apply for one of the open Spec MX-5 seats, please contact Todd Lamb at specmx5@ATLspeedwerks.com.

PCA at VIR, TA2 Coaching

The Porsche Club Racing weekend at VIR was a huge success. Two race wins and three track records for our Spec Boxster. Topher Everett got the opportunity to pilot the #184 around the track during the enduro, setting some fast laps after taking the lead.

Todd Lamb setting the SPB track record in race 1, on board footage:

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In addition, Lamb was coaching a Trans Am driver and helping to setup the TA2 car. Here’s a lap around VIR just a little quicker than the Boxster:

Elgin Racing wins the 12hour Devil in the Dark

The Mustang Boss 302R of Elgin Racing won the 12 hour Devil in the Dark event at NJMP, with drivers Todd Lamb, David Jacobs, and Greg  Obadia.

This is the team’s third overall win in a row at the event, and a record of leading flag to flag.

Congrats to the entire team!

Here’s the press release from the Ford Racing website:

link to press release

 

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VIR Majors

Coaching client Tray Ayres won both races at VIR to capture the SE Conference championship in Spec Racer Ford Gen3 (SRF3).

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Road Atlanta Majors Recap

Great weather, great racing, and great results – what more can you ask for from a race weekend?

Ted Cahall blew away his personal best laptime not once, but TWICE during the weekend!

“Another personal best lap of 1:45.07 at Road Atlanta this morning. That is 8/10ths faster than my previous persona best set yesterday morning. Really want to thank East Street Racing, Jim Drago, Todd Lamb, and Brian Zellner for help with the motor, coaching, and car setup.” -Ted Cahall

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Trans Am series competitor Tom West brought his TA2 car to Road Atlanta for coaching in preparation for the upcoming Trans Am event. Tom won the GT2 class while spending each session working on developing a new driving style suited to high HP cars.

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SRF3 coaching client Tray Ayres continued his winning streak on Saturday, winning in dominating fashion.

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Mike Cottrell also returned to the track for his first race of the season.

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The next SCCA Majors event will be VIR, where Cahall, Ayres, and Lamb will be competing.

 

Sebring SCCA Majors Recap

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ATLspeedwerks clients had a great weekend at the SCCA Majors in Sebring. In his first Majors and first time at Sebring, Senter Smith (#67) rallied from 52nd to 33rd with an excellent run. Keith May (#5) was poised for a great weekend back in the car after a long hiatus but had to cut the weekend short due to a family emergency. Tray Ayres (SRF3 #7) held pole for both days but retired early from the weekend due to illness. Todd Lamb (#84) finished on the podium both days, racking up the most points on the weekend in Spec Miata and posting the fastest laptime in Sunday’s race.

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AiM LearnFast data acquisition seminars

On Oct 31 & Nov 1 ATLspeedwerks hosted two AiM LearnFast data acquisition seminars. Roger Caddell conducted the seminars, which covered both the practical side of data acquisition, and also advanced techniques (suspension analysis, driver analysis, vehicle health, etc). Attendees worked with real data and the latest AiM software to gain a solid understanding of data analysis.017ceb8a72b30eb46a20969f4161c74540a15cecca 01974da969406c900c80d4e471192352eb4072f88a 0107210fc7cc6c651c5a82cca3d5334438249acd44

Spec Boxster – new for 2016: Porsche/PCA racing

We’ve just received a Porsche donor car for a Spec Boxster build. This car will be built to PCA Club Racing rules, which restrict the modifications to the car much like Spec Miata. We will strip the car, cage it, install new suspension components and lots of extra coolers, and then it will be campaigned in the SPB (Spec Boxster) class at PCA/NASA events. It will also be able to run in SCCA and PBOC, so we expect plenty of track time for the car. The fields are upwards of 30 cars at some events. Cost will be around $45k for a full build. We plan to build 3 of these over the winter, so if you’re interested get your order in ASAP.

 

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Runoffs Recap from Todd Lamb

View from the stands

View from the stands

As I reflect on the last 12 days, there were a lot of highs and lows from the Runoffs at Daytona. We had clients that won National Championships and those that had nothing but bad luck all week. First off a huge thank you to my guys Brian Zellner and Blake Hughes at Atlanta Speedwerks for prepping cars to the very top level.

Coaching clients Brian Linn (1st in HP) and Tray Ayres (2nd in SRF3) were at the top of their game. Great fun to be on the radio with them both talking them through strategy on the last lap run to the stripe.

Brian Linn wins HP!

Brian Linn wins HP!

Tray Ayres 2nd in SRF3

Tray Ayres 2nd in SRF3

Huge props to Mazda for allowing us to race under the lights. Having run the Daytona 24 Hours as a Mazda ladder driver, I can say that all the SM drivers that took the green got to be a part of something special that in my mind was equal to the experience of running the 24 Hours (at least the first 14 laps of it!). Congrats to everyone for putting on a great show!

Mazda photo shoot

Mazda photo shoot

It was fun to work with several drivers new to Daytona, such as Brian Linn, Spencer Rutherford, Spencer Patterson, Mike Collins, Steve Sturm, and Jeff VanBendegom. Watching these guys get up to speed was very rewarding as a coach.

Our shop did a bunch of setups at the track for various drivers, and even did a motor swap for Michael Cottrell before the race.

I personally made a bad call on the tires for the race which kept me from joining the fun up front, but as a consolation prize I was able to set the fastest lap of the SM race, and got a little shoutout at the start of the race broadcast. That will have to do for now smile emoticon

I had a great time hanging out with the Meathead camp at Wing House for just about every meal during qualifying week. I swear I will never eat wings again…unless Alexis is serving them.

Thanks to East Street for taking care of the horses, Todd Buras for the donuts and drafting help, Ken Mersereau and Glenn Murphey for the help in the paddock, Sturm and Collins for the hospitality, and Becky Mishtawy+1 for showing us all the cool local hangouts after hours.

The Todd&Todd Show

The Todd&Todd Show

Congrats to the SM podium finishers Jonathan Goring, Andrew Carbonell, and Alex Bolanos.

Thank you to all of our customers and friends that were part of year one with Atlanta Speedwerks.

 

-TODD LAMB

Daytona Testing

We just got back from a very insightful weekend of testing at Daytona. We learned a lot about setup, drafting partners, and race strategy in preparation for the National Championship Runoffs coming up in September. Todd Lamb and Todd Buras teamed up for drafting in qualifying, with both of them tying for pole position to the nearest .001 second!

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Danielle Pardus got a great shot of the Todd & Todd Show in action.

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The new team race suits from OMP look great!